‘Let’s sit down for a while and have a drink.’

Bueno!’ She says and snuggles next to me.

Dulce is a single mother who works in a small boutique on Calle Florida, the city’s most popular pedestrian shopping zone. The job barely pays for her living expenses. She doesn’t walk the streets to make ends meet, instead frequents high end places like Hippopotamus in the ritzy and popular tourist district of Ricoleta as well as five star hotel bars. I like it that she is in no hurry and we’re able to talk. I appreciate what I perceive to be her honesty.

But taking her back to my hotel room is no longer an option for me. Not that I have never been out with one of them, but a couple of times that I did was at the end of the long nights of eating and drinking and with a friend or two having wandered out kind. I don’t regret those outings, mainly because those women and the experiences were pleasant. But as a matter of not even some moral principal – but the sheer fact that I am very romantic at heart, I just wouldn’t/couldn’t bring myself to forge such a liaison.

I am being honest and I tell her how very much I like her and was even falling for her charms and the sincerity, but taking home a profi wasn’t something I did.

Pero soy buena!’ She urges. ‘But I am good!’ Even sounding like a saleswoman in a boutique.

Lo siento!’ ‘I am sorry!’ She doesn’t say anything to it, just scoots closer to me, takes my hand in hers and lets her head fall on my shoulder. It feels good that she feels at ease doing that. That perhaps in my small way I am a comfort to her as she is to me.

‘But I can still drop you off if you want?’

I get out of the cab in front of her home to see her off and press into her fist a $50.- bill.

‘It’s not much, but…Gracias!’

Gracias.’ She echoes, and gives me a quick hug. I watch her opening the front door and disappear inside her building.

© Haresh Shah

Illustration: Celia Rose Marks

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Next Friday, March 14, 2014

IN THE DEPTH OF HIS EYES

Up until my first trip to Spain in the fall of 1978, I only had a vague knowledge of the Spanish Civil War and how Franco ruled the country for almost forty years with his ruthless iron fist. In fact it was the dictator’s death that would make possible even to think of bringing any western publication in to the country, let alone a local edition of Playboy. A poignant personal account.

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