My high school girlfriend’s father was a man of the 1970s. This meant that he could stroll around town wearing platform shoes without fear of having his masculinity questioned. It also meant that he imbibed various substances during many long, lost weekends.
One of his maxims was “when it doubt, it is best to puke.” I thought about this as I circled our WC and regurgitated the several bowls full of gofio and lechera I had consumed only hours before.
The cause of this sudden illness? Perhaps the gray weather that set in on Sunday, or, even more compelling, our family’s visit to the Faro Maspalomas shopping center where we were treated to the overcommercialized underbelly of Gran Canaria tourist civilization. If you are in Spain and they are advertising bratwurst mit sempf, you may find yourself stricken with nausea.
All Sunday night I floated on a sea of post-vomitory relief as my aching stomach soothed itself. My children have also been afflicted. We actually think it’s the local water, consumed accidentally while brushing teeth, that is the culprit. Why is it that wherever Spanish is spoken the local water gives outsiders the shits?
Monday was better. The glowing orb of the sun returned, prompting expeditions to Arguineguin and Puerto Rico. In Arguineguin, a salty port dominated by a mix of locals and Norwegian pensioners, the captain Manuel returned to talk with Epp. I let them reminisce by themselves as I scarfed down my first post-gofio meal, spaghetti aglio e oglio. According to Manuel, he really gave the bag and its prized journal to Vello, who is refered to by Spaniards as “Vejo”. Epp returned with a look of confusion on her face: who to believe, the Canarian sea captain or the Estonian prophet?
We walked the promenade and bathed in the salty, clear ocean waters. Here too, I was surrounded by the occassionaly nude bather and bratwurst peddler, but I retained my constitution. I began to secretly hope that my illness had passed.
Later, we returned to Rico to find Vello. Again, I let Epp conduct her interrogations without me near. Vello insists that Manuel offered the bag to him, but he said no, and that Manuel threw it away. Epp is even more confused. I began to wish that the bag had a secret tracking devices sewn into its seams. Who knows where it is? Lost in Vello’s secret Puerto Rico stash? Buried in Manuel’s basement? Degrading in the local dump?
After market hours, we sat with Vedelik as he expounded on possible solutions for the crisis in the Middle East. Vedelik is a strong supporter of Israel and is irritated about how Hamas fighters fire rockets into Israel and then take refuge among the civilian population of Gaza. I asked him for his opinion of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, but he said he had none. “Ma ei tea mitte midagi eestist!” he said, pushing the thoughts away. “Mitte midagi!”
Vedelik then launched into his theories about how the ancient Estonians were kin to the Etruscans and local Guanche people who settled the Canary Islands. He supposedly is able to tell the tribal origin of a person merely by looking at their face. “But what about him?” said Epp, gesturing at me. “What does he look like?” Vedelik paused to think. “This is a hard one,” he said, studying me. Finally, it came to him. “Jah, jah, nüüd ma tean!” Vedelik exclaimed. “Tema on pärslane!”
“Pärslane?” I said to Epp. I had never heard the term. “He said you look Persian,” she said. “I do?” I said, trying to imagine Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a relative. “Well, he has been to Iran,” shrugged Epp. “So maybe he knows what he’s talking about.”