Andrés is an asshole. You can tell by his tattered t-shirts and the way he smokes his cigarettes. He lives alone because he likes it that way. Or maybe because people stopped forgiving him.
He is the owner of the biological marine station in Ecuador. He is an immigrant who says his mother saved him from growing up in Germany. He refuses to speak Spanish to us because he says we won’t understand. The only thing we don’t comprehend is the hostility.
He walks us through a small city populated by afro-ecuatorianos. People come to their windows and stare at us, leaning up against their six-speaker stereo systems underneath thatched roofs. I feel like a freak. Andrés thinks nothing of it. He carries the confidence of a comfortable outsider.
He gives us the city background using sweeping generalizations. All of the men here cheat on their wives. All of the women cheat on their men to get revenge. Almost no one goes to school because there are no jobs. I wonder what he would tell his friends about us if he had any. They are completely incompetent and spoiled. They are easily tired and full of complaints. They don’t appreciate anything that is not American.
When half of us get food poisoning he tells us we shouldn’t have been drinking. We tell him we haven’t been drinking and he says we must have drank the water. We tell him we didn’t drink the water and he says we must have drank from an unclean glass. The blame takes up the space where the compassion might have been.
He sits alone on the beach, sighing between smokey exhales. He likes it that way.