I’m nervous. It’s been a year and a half... What if she got fat?
I have a special talent: to believe my own fantasies. I am so good at it that sometimes they turn into reality. That talent was how I got into business school with a 3% admission rate. That talent was how I worked four hours a week at Shitty Sugar. That talent was what gave birth to la Chichona life. I dream, I hustle… and miracles happen.
Before the van life, I was living in the Canary Islands. Two weeks prior to my departure, I met Alicja. Chemistry hit us like lightning, grounded on the same dark humour and cultural references. We laughed often and were all the time teasing each other. Alicja was funny, smart, and hot. The sassiest doctor I ever met. I seduced her back then, and she planted a seed in my mind. That seed grew into another fantasy.
We kept in touch and planned to travel together someday. First it was February, then April, then she couldn’t come. When my luck turned in El Salvador, I pulled the trigger and wrote her a long message saying that I wanted to give our story a new beginning. She wanted it too, so we agreed to give it a go. Alicja had planned a trip with her friend to Mexico in November. They would land in Cancun… in three days.
We spent Sophia’s last days by the beach in Tulum. Travelling with Sophia was bonding and pleasant. I hadn’t had that much fun on the road since my days with Marco. Sophia knew about Alicja, and also about my delusional tendencies. After compiling all the facts, she warned me to be careful. It had been a year and a half indeed, and Sophia did not share my hopeless romanticism.
While waiting for Alicja in Tulum I met Lawrie, a British designer. One conversation led to another and I told him about Alicja. Lawrie had a similar story with his Portuguese girlfriend. They had met while travelling in South East Asia and had an instant crush. Six months later, they reunited in Spain to give it a shot, and were together since.
Lawrie’s story was an inspiration, a breath of hope. Alicja would be flying for 18 hours to get to Cancun, and her hostel was in Tulum, two hours away. Lawrie said I'd win extra points if I surprised her at the airport and drove her back to Tulum. He even offered to lend me two large sombreros as welcoming gifts for her and her friend. I liked the idea. Chivalry wasn’t dead.
I rushed to find a car rental before the closing hours. I braved a tropical storm, in a tiny olive Chevrolet Spark, and arrived at the airport an hour earlier. Her plane was expected for 10:30pm. I walked toward the terminal with two huge sombreros under my arm. How can I do it? Will she be shocked? Confused? Jump in my arms? Cry out of joy?
Security guards and metal barriers blocked the access to the terminal. Standing next to the crowd of taxi drivers, I noticed that people were coming out from halls. One exit went around a fence. It was for passengers with reserved transportation. The exits were 300m apart. Shit what if I miss her? She was late. I was nervous.
I approached the security guard to let me through but he didn't budge. Then I tried with an older one. The old man was bored and willing to listen. I told him the whole backstory with Alicja, the details, and the stakes. I praised Mexico as my choice of reunion, for its beauty, for its tacos, for its people. I overplayed and exaggerated everything, showing off the sombreros for additional credibility. He realized he had the power to make a hopeless romantic find his Guadalupe. It touched him. He performed a security check and let me through. Mexicans love Telenovelas.
I walked inside, hid behind the corner and peaked at the people coming out of the hallway. Then I saw them, two petite blondies walking slowly, burdened like mules with backpacks too large for them. Alicja looked exactly like she had been travelling for 18 hours. I hid my face under the sombrero and stood in the center of the hallway, ready for the surprise.
My heart was pounding.