My two Argentinian friends. Esteban and Santiago. Even now their names are like honey in my mouth. I meet them one day by the store near the pista, the main road. They are carting home Maguey logs to make drums to sell on the street. Today they will hollow out the wood. Tomorrow they will slaughter a goat for the skin to stretch over the drums.
They invite me to come. The tingling. The excitement. The rush of words and that sparkling static in the air. I know right away that I am interested in one of them. I’m just not sure which one.
They live near me. Renting a cabin with an outdoor fire pit from the great grandmother who runs the store. Our neighborhood is a pokey ramshackle of different dwellings rising up from the road, cutting into the mountainside. Chickens, ducks, the most adorable squealing piglets. An orphanage for boys. An ayahuasca center run by a man named Gringo Ricardo and staffed by three shapebo grandmothers, all sisters. Me staying at a place called Kusi Wasi, the House of Joy, run by an independently wealthy woman who lets in whoever tickles her fancy, and whoever might be doing social projects she believes in.
They are best friends, Santiago and Esteban, Esteban and Santiago. Even after seeing them play drums at our friend’s night club and visiting them in their rustic shack of a home, warmed with Columbian friends and a bottle of wine around the fire, I still can’t figure out which one of them I want to sleep with. This postpones the process quite a bit.
They are perfect archetypal opposites. Santiago, lanky and solemn. Moody. Highly intelligent, critical of society. A chain-smoker. Argentine lips purple from too much wine and perpetual coca. He lounges his skinny body languidly in tender silence, then comes alive, either purring with soft, existential poetry or spitting violent declarations of critical theory. His sunken chest calls me forward, beckons me to place the full flatness of my palm, my cheek, my lips to that warm flesh with all the charms of my womanhood.
Then, Esteban. Bronze and golden. Broad shouldered and good-natured. Big hands. Quiet during political conversations. Loving always. We can him caballito, little horse. We go on treks through the mountain range. The three of us and whoever is rolling through their place at the time. Me with a pocket full of mushrooms and a rattle shaped like a puma’s head. Santiago with a small woven rainbow bag, carrying his mini moleskein notebook and coca leaves. Esteban shouldering the heavy camping pack. Trudging along our tent and sleeping bags, our cooking pot and safety knife. It is Esteban who gathers the wood and makes the evening fire while me and Santiago talk intensely about literature and modern life.
I gaze at the fine bones of Santiago’s face as if my eyes are finger tips. Then at Esteban, the aquiline angles of his nose, the slight, sweet scruff of beard. Humming as he stirs the pot of quinoa soup. It is Esteban who hugs me hello when I see them at the trail head and makes sure I got home alright. But it is Santiago who reads us a poem he wrote before we bed down for the night and whose rare smile makes my heart leap with joy. What’s a girl to do?
At night I lie between the two of them listening to my body, asking,
‘To who? To who?’
I lean in towards Santiago, his sharp mind and longing that makes mine feel so much less alone. Then back towards Esteban, salivating at the thought of his big hands compressing me into ecstasy and relaxation. Strange fantasies of him building me a house shaped like a drum, then competently playing it. My body cat curled inside, vibrating. The rhythm bringing me to slow, steady climax.
One night, in the safety of my own candle lit cabin, nestled in the rich rolling earth and wildflowers of the sacred valley, I have a dream that they both turn towards me. They engulf me in the two toned textures of their touch. One animal. Four tongues, seven dicks, worlds of skin, and a mouth that devours me completely. The next camping trip I am lying between them praying to my body.
‘If you want them both, lead the way and show me how to make it happen.’ Again we sleep like siblings.
I leave for the weekend to lobby for the Disabled People’s Association in Pisaq and when I come back there are two French girls visiting the wild house of ever-changing travelers where they live. They are both gorgeous and one of them especially: perfect baby doll lips, uncombed blonde hair, big sorrowful eyes and an over-sized sweater on a petite body. Her and Santiago are in the corner sharing whispers and meaningful silences. Yes, I register. This is exactly the kind of girl Santiago would want to be with. The realization spreads slowly through my fragile, self-absorbed little ego. Just as I was having trouble deciding about them, maybe they were still deciding about me.
The crew at Kusi Wasi has taken on a project preparing mescaline, extracting the potent white crystals from the inner ridges of the cacti. A British man in a fedora has come with money in hand and us do-gooders and artists are taking advantage of the funds to fuel our personal projects of being and becoming. Esteban and Santiago had asked me for some to try. Seeing as how Santiago is occupied, I invite Esteban to walk back with me to my cabin to pick it up. We are giddy under the half blood moon, laughing at random sounds and silences.
I make him tea. Ginger, chamomile and yerba buena picked from the weeds in my yard. The tea is gross and bitter, over-steeped. The delicate chamomile flowers boiled to death. I ask him about his ex-s. A common pick-up topic for me. I love knowing people’s history in love. Getting to feel just a little bit into that world of intimacy that only opens when we open our bodies and heart to someone. He answers in kind. Yes, there was a girl, yes it was love, yes it hurt and it’s over now. I share my own heartbreaks and this helps me feel closer to him. This large Argentinian man in my room. This stranger.
By the time I move on to asking about his family, another great pick-up conversation of mine, the urge to lick his chest, to bite his earlobes, to hold and to be held, is so strong I can’t do my withholding thing anymore. I stretch over and lie down next to him right in the middle of him talking about his sister.
He lifts up my chin with a golden paw and looks into my eyes. Like an animal making sure. Then he pounces, instantly hard and huge. He pulls me on top of him, taking off both our shirts, allowing me the sublime pleasure of touching the rippling bones and muscles of his torso. He is like the statue of David, but warm. Caramel brown and pumping blood. The experience of his skin bolts through me. Jumpstarting me with surprising electricity before my mind can get in the way. I am dripping wet, succulently open and ready for all of him.
He takes me in his hands and mauls my body. Twisting me in cross current spirals. The heat staying where he’s grabbed a handful of me even after he’s going in for another. He moves in a pattern that delights me. Pulling me on top of him, letting me move. And then, then, then he will pounce on me, moving my limbs into place, holding them down and roiling his large build into me. His eyes roll up in ecstasy. My hips instinctively buck up to receive him. I want it all. I take it to the hilt, deep, deep inside.
“Aye linda,” he murmurs and grinds in slowly. Down and around, scrapping out full delicious circles inside me. He spirals his hips around, gathering speed and intensity. An unmediated wellspring of pleasure overtakes me. A pure passion I have never known. I let my voice fly free, screaming my unearthly pleasure to the unpopulated country dark. Sumptuous, consuming, immediate.
He pauses to keep from climaxing and again pulls me on top of him, allowing me to cum in my own motion. I shiver and release. Lie down. Let my head rest on his neck, lick at the rivulets of sweat. I am about to doze off in contentment, but he lowers me down to my back. Sucks on my nipples, my belly, takes my whole clit in his mouth and nurses it, slow and steady. He expands out into longer, rhythmic licks that bring me to a second, more sustained climax. We lie together like this for a while. His head still burrowed between my legs. His ear on my thigh. Eyes closed breathing in my scent.
My body shakes for a long time, integrating the explosive, orgasmic energy. My breath returns in soft moans. Satisfied flowers drinking in the sun. My inner landscape as calm and nourished as a meadow after a hard summer rain. My fingers mindlessly, happily, stroking through the fine, curly filaments of his hair. When faced with two options, the benefits of making a decision are not small.
Oh Esteban. You and your email address lost in the Mutande Magazine you gave me as a parting gift so long ago. Esteban. I have always wanted to write you a letter in my most sultry Spanish and thank you for that night and the nights that followed. I have always wanted to tell you how sometimes, I will be in the middle of a very challenging kundalini yoga set, or waiting for the bus when I don’t want to be, and I will think of you. Your body falquito, thin on your big frame after months of gypsy living, but sana, strong and healthy, glowing copper coffee candy in the sun as we luxuriated for hours over a naked breakfast picnic in the overgrown yard. I will think of you, how you looked when you stood up and stretched in the shinning afternoon light; glorious. How you looked when you came back down and pinned me to the picnic blanket exactly the way you wanted me. Sometimes Esteban, I will think of you, of you, and it will always get me through.