Every weekend here usually yields at least one random story or situation, and the last two have been no exception. However, what follows all took place on a Thursday, which down here is the beginning of the weekend, in a way. People treat Thursday like it's Friday, Friday like it's Saturday, and Saturday like it's the last day in Rome. Sunday is a somber day for sleeping and dragging your drunk ass to the beach front to catch rays and pass out, only to wake up to a khaki-clad woman prodding you with a stick, extending her hand, and offering you a beer. It's not free, but it's also not expensive, so you say fuck it while you grab that frosty brew and down it like Popeye with a can of Spinach. I'm spiraling into an unpredictable tangent; let's steer out of here. So, Thursday we decided to travel into the decadent area that is downtown Lima to get a few drinks and have our penultimate moment—which, in reality, was our final "intimate friendship" moment as a group—with our friend Maria before she departed to Argentina for the next two years. Maria is a fantastic person who may be the most genuinely generous individual I have met in the last decade or so; a congenial spirit that acts without hesitation, whether it's to help a friend or to party like it's 1999. There's this old regal hotel that stands proudly above the San Martin Plaza in all its antique-white splendor, whose bar serves a special type of Pisco Sour named The Pisco Sour Catedral. For those who are wondering what the hell Pisco is, it is a transparent brandy derived from grapes in a manner similar to wine, but with a completely different distillation process, which, in turn, produces a strong and sweet-tasting liquor. A Pisco Sour Catedral has more than double the amount of liquor that you would typically find in a 15 sole Pisco sour, making this swanky hotel bar one of our favorite watering holes. After a slew of miscommunications—or complete lack of any communication—the six of us finally met up and ordered a round of Pisco Sour Catedrals. The hotel staff treated us like a group of lepers, especially after we began to steal chairs from the other tables with the goal of having enough seating for all of us. It still perplexes me as to why this seemingly insignificant act turned our waiter into a brooding asshole, but I'm sure we didn't help things when we asked to be moved to a different table, which, fortunately for us, included a different waiter.
After our first round of drinks began to shallow and we could see through to the glass bottom, I motioned the waiter to bring us another round. He swiftly dragged his hand across his neck, inferring that the place was about to close. I looked down at my watch telling me it was only midnight, to which I responded with an angry "are you fucking kidding me?". We had a close friend leaving us and we were not prepared to stop our send-off anytime soon, so we made our way to a strange karaoke bar on the other side of the plaza. After being unnecessarily frisked by a long-haired caveman in a security shirt, I stepped into the dark interior and was suddenly taken aback by all the American and European media memorabilia that hung upon the four walls of the place. My eyes darted to each poster and canvas, recognizing the various scenes; Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Mulholland Drive—which brought a personal elation—The Dark Knight, Psycho, The Maltese Falcon, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Hendrix, Zeppelin; there was more, but my mind can't reproduce them all right now—too damn early. A frosty round of beers arrived at the table, which promptly started a contest between us as to who was going to sing first. It was during this time that we noticed a younger man, probably around 21, who looked like he belonged in a science lab—square-rimmed glasses, plaid button down, and this absent, yet shy, look on his face that seemed to scream "I've never been with a woman"—stumbling his way through some American tune that seems to slip my mind. It was a spectacle in and of itself, with all of his off-key yelps and sweaty jolting about the stage. When the guy finished, the three girls in our party sprung up from the table in pure excitement as they hustled to the stage with elated grins painted on their faces. The music started to play and suddenly a wave of recognition came over everyone in the bar; Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way". We stood up proudly and cheered them on as if we were at a real concert while they struggled to hold it all together; they butchered the entire thing, but that's the strange goal of Karaoke—to see who can mangle a tune the most while laughing proudly along with the audience. After several more rounds of drinks, we mustered up the courage to drag ourselves to the stage and completely wreck one of the greatest songs ever written—Queen's operatic epic, "Bohemian Rhapsody". I'm sure it was like watching a car-accident in progress; the shock and awe of something once so complete and alive coming to an untimely demise in a fiery blaze. Despite the obviously predictable pissing we did to such a classic, it was great fun, and the audience had a blast singing along.
Soon after, the bar began to close and we made our way back to the outside world where throngs of people hurried themselves to and from each bar, hoping that one would be open all night—a common occurrence down here that completely shocked me the first time I witnessed it. As we stumbled about on the sidewalk shrieking and shouting nonsense, the nerdy looking guy from earlier pulled up in a small dark VW Jetta to the edge where we were standing and beckoned at us to get in. He claimed to know of a bar closer to our house called Bacteria that was open till six in the morning. So, let me put this into perspective for you: a strange man is urging four wasted tourists and one inebriated native to cram into his tiny car so that he may pilot us to an all-night bar called Bacteria, which I'm guessing will turn out to be quite a fitting name, especially for a place that caters to drunkards at all times of the night. Wisdom wasn't a strong suit that night, and we decided to take the risk and go with this complete stranger to Bacteria. Luckily, the guy turned out to be a really "cool dude" who just wanted to have a good time getting to know new people. We eventually arrived safely at the bar, excited to continue our night. But, typical underwhelming moment—the bar was closed, so we decided to call it a night and hail down a cab. We each made it home safely by about four in the morning. When I got back to my flat, I sat down on the couch, thought for a couple minutes about having to teach that same morning, then turned on Step Brothers and tried to fade out to the hijinks of John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell.