[using Google translate (Serbian, Vietnamese, Georgian, then back to English) on an old paragraph about a friend and I wandering Peru — then later expanding and editing]
After we finished eating, Maria and I searched the city for a hookah bar. Along the cobblestoned streets, we saw a woman pulling from a pipe on a ninth floor balcony. Maria shouted at her in Spanish and English until the woman turned inside out. On the high building we noted no inscription, so we didn’t know which abode to locate. Is it a home? We shouted above. Are we allowed? We eventually found an open door on the first floor, which led to a closed-off market. All the cloth and souvenirs were covered with tarp and rope.
As we climbed the stairs, we stared at the many paintings for sale impaled along the walls. Ancient rulers atop lost ruins. Local street sweepers, rainbow-based landscape paintings. We passed a miniature health care store and Maria adored a few products. I focused on an image on the wall – a tall man blurred so strongly that I wanted to take him home and paint him over. Really clean him up. Instead, we continued to climb.
We passed a glass shop where a robot sculpture advertised nasty tattoos. We reached the source of the hookah smoke, nine floors up, and quickly realized we were not exclusive enough. A man in a tan overcoat holding what looked like a leaf blower approached us. He turned on the blower and apologized with a whisper that somehow lifted over the wind. It was all the more poised than we expected.
The man in the tan overcoat told us that the space was a reserved event, a closed-off party for a group of forty warlords. He told us to come back the next night, where, he said, hookah would personally be willing to speak with everyone one-on-one. But we were leaving the next morning and we would never return.