I see the other American tourists here in Santiago. They stomp loudly into restaurants waiting to be seated like fools!
I, on the other hand, breeze right in—neon, South-American-y Missoni for Target dress blowing behind me and High Sierra backpack worn in front, barely noticeable. I feel my belt wallet flapping safely against my stomach.
I wave the waiter over with an expert flick of the wrist. He puts a menu in Spanish (!) in front of me. I smile to myself as I secure my backpack to the base of my chair. I fish out my aloe gel to spread on my heat rash as I survey the menu.
Ceviche or ceviche? That is the question.
I scoff as I hear the American women next to me excitedly discussing the waiter’s man bun. Ladies, he’s not going to fall for the basic American likes of you while I’m sitting right here!
The waiter comes back to take my order.
“Quierrro ceviche,” I purr and raise an eyebrow.
“Ok, one ceviche coming right up,” he responds in English.
Haha! He’s fun and must stop flirting!
I mouth the words to Shakira’s “Clandestino,” further cementing my knowledge of local art and culture.
I pat my stomach, ensuring my belt wallet is tightly secured. Ready for ceviche.
When it’s time to pay, I masterfully reach into my dress and fish out cash from my belt wallet. My meal is $6,500 pesos and I have the exact amount and a little extra 10% tip, as is expected in South America—a little known fact I doubt the gals at the next table know.
The waiter returns and I hand him my pesos, “quedar el cambio,” I say with a wink (to keep the change).
The waiter grins. I’ve done it again, hook, line, and sinker.
His sultry lips part and I prepare myself for what I know is coming. I will, of course, go dancing with him.
“You give me six hundred and fifty pesos, your check says six thousand five hundred.”
A slight hiccup and a mistake that even locals must make.
I dip my hand back into my belt wallet with difficulty and eventually unbuckle it, drawing the belt out of my dress (seductively, one can only hope), understanding that this may make me more of a target to potential pickpockets.
Without breaking eye contact, I hand my waiter the right amount of change, stuff the belt wallet into my dress, hoist my backpack over one shoulder, and gracefully depart. Where might a local go next?