Part II: Yemanja
I was just literally finishing the last sentence of my previous post (see: Confessions of a female mind), when Xander called me. Time for lunch. We’d try a place close to our pousada: a small restaurant, just across the corner, with a single big table under the thick shadow of a red-blossom tree.
I didn’t notice her from the beginning. How is this possible? After all, it’s not everyday you get to meet a goddess. I must have been annoyed by the heat and the flies. Once I settled down in the shadow with a cool mango juice, the first thing my senses registered about her was her smell. A deep, musky, flowery smell. My pheromones tingled. I raised my eyes from the menu and this time I saw her properly.
Alexia, the owner and cook of the tiny restaurant, was an impressive figure. A tall Brazilian mulatta, with a strong elegant body and a warm smile on her beautiful freckled face. Dark long curly hair, black friendly eyes and a pair of lips to die for. And, wonder of wonders, she turned out to speak perfectly decent English too! Hurray, we were no longer incommunicado!
The initial tentative politeness soon gave way to a heartfelt discussion; we started chatting with her about the island, tourism and her new shop. We invited her at our table and she sat between me and Xander; it was already past lunchtime and there were no other customers at the restaurant.
The discussion wandered off and we ended up talking for hours on Alexia’s porch. About her life in the States and her passion with organic food. About her half-Italian roots and how Italian men flirt. And about the love of her life with whom she only recently got together with after decades of separate paths. She was a natural storyteller, interspersing her stories with laughter and the occasional pause to find the right word.
Xander, who has a talent to get straight to the essence of things with people, was telling her about our own story and the improbable set of circumstances that brought us together, when I felt a strange urge.
– “When did you get this tattoo, Alexia?”, I ran my finger over the maze of the green hibiscus on her forearm. Her skin reacted to my touch but she didn’t pull back her arm.
-“Only last week”, she said looking at me straight in the eyes.
I turned to Xander.
–”Shall we ask her over at our place for a drink?“, I asked him silently with the eyes.
He must have noticed the electricity in the air!
I longed to feel Alexia’s dark skin, let my fingers run through her hair. Bury my head between her shoulder blades. Feel her sweaty weight on me.
– “How very inappropriate of you, Aliki.”, I heard a little voice inside my head. Still… if she excited me so much, what effect must she have had on Xander, I wondered and turned again to touch base with him.
I don’t know whether he understood the unspoken question or not. What I do know is what he would have replied. Your game, your rules, your decision. Xander knows me well.
Damn, I had hesitated just too long! The moment had passed. When we finally said goodbye, she squeezed us both tight and gave us a kiss on the cheek. Was it me or did she linger just a bit longer on me?
-“Alexia, just one last question”, Xander paused before leaving. “All over the island we noticed this depiction of a woman with a flower crown holding sea shells in her hands. Who is it? Aliki thought it might be a sort of Madonna.”
-“You mean Yemanja”, she replied, “the African goddess of the ocean and protector of women and creation. The Afrocubans have merged her with the image of Virgin Mary during slavery and their descendants still worship her.”
If she looked anything like you, of course they do, girl. Luckily, though, you have an email and Facebook account.