The days I don’t fly are days I am just here. I take my laptop to the bar beside the paragliding school and write. There is internet and air conditioning and the most adorable little boy, named Luka, with hair so blonde it’s more of a story than a color, but I don’t know how to describe it yet. Super blonde. Lightning white.
The summer is technically the off-season for paragliding in Algodonales. It’s too goddamn hot, the sun is so bright it gouges. The tourists leave the flying in unbearable heat to the local pilots. And we leave the flying until late afternoon when it starts to cool down. It’s a dry heat, which means it’s bearable in the shade, inside our dark houses, and after the sun goes down. Late into the night, people pull the rocking chairs and dining room chairs from inside their houses and set up an outdoor living room on the narrow sidewalks to take in the breeze.
Castejon was entirely occupied with local men when I arrived today. And, just like in Vilaseca, the man sitting on the stool I usually sit on, got up to let me have it. But I wanted the table. I pulled the chairs away and tucked in. Noemi brought my cafe con leche in an America-style mug, which feels like a novelty and a comfort at the same time. Then she joined me, setting up her laptop while Luka bounced his ball to me.
“Erin!” He’d say when my attention would wander. When I looked up, he’d toss the ball up and behind him, down and kick it, sideways, and under.
I’d catch it and tease him, “Are you ready?” He’d nod. “Are you sure?” he’d nod. “Here goes.” and finally I’d bounce it back to him, he’d flap his arms, miss the ball, chase it around and fill the whole place with his shrieking giggles.
Everyone with their drinks would laugh with him, then go back to their drinks. Back to our computer screens. Back to trying to describe Luka's hair to myself. Fairy tale silk strands. The kind you could weave into gold if you got cursed and had to such a thing. The brightness of the searing Algodonales sun.
(p.s. the text on the big mug my coffee is in that you can see in the corner of the photo very appropriately says, "sé feliz. La vida está llena de momentos de felicidad”)