While Owe was sitting in the Wyndham for over two hours, trying to read and becoming increasingly concerned that I’d been abducted, (interesting- d’yall think my next adventure will be deportation again, or will I move to something more hardcore like abduction?) he was entertaining himself by watching the prostitutes. When Panama was in the control of America, that hotel was the locus for GI’s picking up working girls, and the whole area around his apartment is still a hotbed for prostitution.
Between last night and this morning I’ve had some suspicions about his motives for having me here confirmed, and they aren’t as altruistic as they seem on the surface. I think he wants me here because 1. I protect him from being propositioned every ten feet when he’s walking down the street and 2. When I’m firmly ensconced on his couch and he’s at his desk working, he can talk to me instead of to the cockroaches. (And MAN the cockroaches are impressive here! More like small dogs than bugs!)
“Oh, you wouldn’t believe it! It’s just assumed that because I’m walking down this street, I’m looking for company. They can’t figure out why else I would be there. Every couple of feet there’s a Columbian girl or a Venezualan girl desperately trying to get into my pants. If you hadn’t come I think I was going to have to hire a prostitute, not for sex, mind you, but to keep the other girls off me! No, when I was waiting for you, in there, I was looking up at the casino part, and there’s this row of slot machines and at the end of every row there’s a girl, and there were more in the lobby, circling.”
We stayed up far too late last night- first eating dinner and a few beers, which in Panama time took a few hours. (We both blind ordered from the menu- he got two very nice fried porkchops and some plantain chips. I got a very nice Ceviche that it turned out my stomach didn’t want, like, at ALL, ((poor tummy- weak at the best of times and travel and heat and stress really do it in. All three at once? I may never eat again.)) and a plate of chops with mushroom sauce that Owe pronounced “Tastes exactly like Christmas dinner! In a homeless shelter!”) then we tried to get a last beer somewhere, but everywhere was closing. It was going on two, by this point, so I suppose that’s reasonable so we went to the all night market for a bottle of rum to have a nightcap at home before turning in.
On the way we walked down the street he’s come to avoid so I could see the sights, (no open bodegas, but there was a 24 hour pawn shop!) and lots of girls hanging out on the streets. We passed a nightclub pouring out blue neon light and thumk-thunk music, with a few girls hanging out desultorily in the doorway, and some men sitting outside in classic macho pasture- slouched in chair, legs WIDE open, arms crossed.
“We could have a nightcap there. It looks kind of charmingly awful.”
“I don’t think you’d mix well with the other ladies, there, Sarah. You might actually bother them while they’re working. ”
“Is there any corner of this place that isn’t lousy with paid sex?”
“At three in the morning? are you crazy?”
When crossing the street to get to his house we passed a girl who was hissing.
“See that?” I looked over and saw a car swing around and stopped, and a young lady hopped in. “He was looking for a girl, but didn’t see her cause she was in the shadows and she hissed at him to get his attention.”
“That’s how they do it, eh?”
“Yeah, on a busy night you’ll see a car stop, and then another, and before you know it traffic’s blocked up for blocks, people are leaning on their horns…”
“And right like that, in the middle of traffic, they just pick up their girls?”
“Just like that.”
“Out in the open, in full view of lots of angry drivers.”
“Well, it’s nice to know I’ve got easy options if the teaching thing doesn’t pan out.”
“Let’s put that plan on the back burner for a week, all the same.”