I’m picking up the thread of the Gawan story again, which I dropped after the last post here. I think the main reason why I left it for so long is because it took time for me to process everything that happened. But now that I’ve booked the flights for my next visit with him, I need to get this story told.
When I woke up again in the mid-afternoon, we went out into the city to locate some food. We ran across a little Mexican fast food place where we ate some amazing nachos (I may have been biased: hunger is the best sauce), and boozy margaritas dispensed from a slush machine. Whether it was objectively good or not, it was deeply satisfying and I was likely grinning the whole time.
We wandered around the city centre, mostly just to see it, but I also did a spot of shopping. We were out for some time, the overcast skies darkened from sunset and thickening clouds, and although the timing was a little awkward (not long after our last meal, but a last and necessary opportunity for food for the evening) we decided to eat again.
First choice, despite the fact that it was now raining rather heavily, was an outdoor restaurant at the water’s edge. They had an indoor space so it seemed feasible. A stylish and almost certainly gay waiter, protected incongruously by a clear plastic rain poncho that looked like a garbage bag with a hood, turned us away apologetically: the restaurant simply couldn’t operate in this weather.
Second choice was a restaurant at a nearby landmark, looking out over the water from indoors, but by this point it was dark and pissing down rain so the ordinarily charming view was barely visible, and we were seated at a prep station well away from the windows. I watched a woman delicately assemble some kind of salad with artisanal slowness. Her kit included a small multi-chambered plastic box — the sort of thing I would expect to contain beads or other jewelry findings. In it were tiny nasturtium leaves and little white flowers (possibly nasturtium too, but I didn’t recognize them), which were plucked out and carefully placed with kitchen tweezers. Kitchen. Tweezers. I would have paid even more attention to the whole process if I’d realized that this was my salad. I wasn’t expecting a sort of performance art as part of the dining experience.
It was bucketing down when we were done, so we made our way as far as we could under awnings in search of a cab.
Back at the hotel, it was getting late and I was getting tired so we dealt with the practicalities of sleep. I prefer to sleep alone and, as I discovered during our first date, Gawan much prefers to share a bed. I’d been anticipating that this issue would come up again, especially since I had the sense that on our first date (where the room was equipped with two single beds and we slept separately) we’d arrived at a standoff rather than a truce. He advocated for sharing the double bed but eventually agreed that — for tonight — we could each have our own.
The next morning when I woke, I invited him into my bed to cuddle. We weren’t early waking up, or getting up, or getting packed. The phone rang just as we were making our exit about 20 minutes after what I presume was checkout time. I figured it was the front desk calling to pester us out.
It was raining again. We dashed down the street to a little restaurant where we had a very late breakfast masquerading as lunch. Our table was outdoors behind the restaurant in a little courtyard of pale painted brick walls, and we struggled to get ourselves and our bags under the umbrella that sheltered the light metal table and chairs. As we were finishing up, so did the rain, and we thought it a good time to make a break for the train station down the block. A few minutes later as we approached our platform in the darkened station, the rain started up again, eventually pelting down impressively, like hail, on the train’s metal roof.
I took the window seat, he the aisle, with our luggage perched on the seats facing us. I watched the foreign landscape and flora move past the train’s windows, sometimes wet with rain, as we trundled companionably toward his home during our first full day together.