"Let's get started," I said, at 2:03, in my not-fucking-around teacher voice, the one designed to cut through whispers and giggles and make sleepy students wince. "But Miss," they replied, like people making a clear and obvious argument, "Not everyone is here."
Back home, I probably would have shot back, "Well that's unfortunate for them; we've got things to do." I didn't, though, because even on the first day, I was seeing that things work differently here. This isn't disrespect, this is Asunción telling me espera.
So I did. I do. We start class when we start class, and that's OK.
The entire cycle of life here tells me espera. The evening meal doesn't happen here until well after my stomach has begun demanding it. But Asunción says espera, and I do. At first it was about being polite; I didn't want to ask the restaurant to readjust its schedule, to ask the whole damn country to readjust its schedule for one insignificant and spoiled white lady whose stomach is on Missouri time. Instead, I sat in my room, checking the clock and struggling to ignore my rumbling belly.
Five or so days in, my stomach gave up, got with the program, and stopped whining, and I realized that the time I had between work and dinner was a blessing, a chance to unwind and watch the city do the same from my balcony.
So I wait. Yo espero. And as it turns out, I don't starve.
|It's now, and I'm here.|
On the way back to my hotel, I stopped and looked at the Monumento a los Heroes. I'd walked past it a dozen times, but I'd never seen it after dark, all lit up. I stood on the corner and watched while the lights faded from red to purple to blue and back again.
A little old couple strolled past holding hands, and kids played on the stairs, and I felt like I was part of it. And Asunción stopped telling me espera, and instead it told me ¿Qué ves? Ahora.