German and I decided we would test the nightlife of Natal our first full day in. After dinner, the rest of our group headed back to the apartment to shake off what remained of the jet lag that gripped most of them.
German and I met for the 1st time in South Korea and have remained travel buddies since. We are both utterly fascinated by the webs the world can weave. We walk up and down the beachside bars and restaurants like a college pub crawl. We would stop, grab a beer, talk to whoever would listen and then depart for the next. The glowing lights, multiple languages spoken all at once like some sort of linguistic menagerie, the smell of foreign foods wafting out of the restaurants and streetside vendors, the uneven cobblestones trying at each step to trip you up and make their mark on you. It is this overload of the senses that continues to call to me like the sirens in Homer's Iliad. We continued.
We decided that since our apartment was about a mile away from the beach and uphill the entire way, our best bet would be to traverse the side streets and explore. We found that there is an entire neighborhood just off the beach filled with hostels and nightime only bars and restuarants. This can only mean the juicy, tender underbelly of humanity. We were correct.
As we made our way up and down the streets the sounds of live music, laughter and yelling poured out. People were in the streets, the very dark streets lit only with colored lamps, sitting and talking. Some whispering, some stopping their conversations altogether, as we passed. Some would raise their glasses to us and belt out an indistinguishable vocal acknowledgement, we would gesture the same in return. We stepped into a bar which was dark and dank, the music loud and fast. We made our way inside and were overcome by a crowd made up of shadowy, faceless figures. The atmosphere was very aggressive so we decided to grab our obligatory drink and depart. Back onto the street we approached the corner and headed left, up the hill. On our right we saw a place with an open air balconey/bar and laughter. Our kind of hangout, we entered. On the patio this evening are 2 young men wearing US national team jerseys sharing drinks with a couple of what seemed to be local girls. One is having a normal conversation without issue, rather reserved and without animation. The other however was a completely different story.
This kid had to be barely 21, bright eyed and ready "to party". He is dancing with one of the girls but it's rather dark so we don't really get a good look at her upon first glance. The music is lively but local so it is nothing I recognize, but it lends itself to the type of up close and personal dancing they are doing so nothing seems out of the ordinary. German and I take a seat on the edge of "the dance floor" and begin to talk about our impressions of the dungeon we just walked out of. We are looking around our new hangout when the dance begins turning into a striptease. However it isn't the girl doing the stripping and it isnt the guy taking off his close. The girl is trying to remove the young mans shirt and he, being somewhat taken off guard, is fighting to keep it on. It's like a train wreck, I just can not look away. The struggle goes on for nearly 2 full minutes. She coo's something into his ear and lifts his shirt up one side. He struggles to keep his drink from spilling, staying in step and pushing his shirt back down. So she changes to a tactic that would make any handsy 16 year old boy proud, she tries pulling up his shirt on his drink hand side. He is obviously confused by what's happening because he doesn't want to stop dancing with this girl but he's not sure how to respond to being on this side of mating game. His laugh seems uneasy but he continues. She becomes slightly more aggessive now using both hands on his shirt and trying to pull it up over his head. He steps back and steadies his glass, takes another drink and moves back in to grind some more. She says something to him that is inaudible to us but he laughs and responds with something along the lines of, "what are you talking about? haha Oh man, haha that's some awesome!". The dance continues.
As this curious little ritual continues I begin to notice that these young lady's aren't what they seem at first glance. I have had a few beers at this point myself but I am pretty sure my eyes are seeing through the facade. The song ends and the girls depart to the bathroom to maybe powder their noses. The brash young travelers rendezvous back at the bar near our newfound perch and the young dancer says, "Man! this chick is totally into me dude! She can't keep her hands off me man, Were you seeing this?!" At this point I feel it imperative to step in and inform them that, and I may be wrong, these two girls that are "all over you"...you will be paying for that score in more ways than one. "Wait! What! You mean...?" Silence...the realization begins to set in and there appears to be a frantic need to find escape before they return and the music is faced.
"We are ready to keep moving, you boys are welcome to tag along". They join us, seeming rather releived- we talk about the world for a couple blocks and someone disappeared into the darkness. Who it was, depends on who you ask.