by Kate McCahill
All day it’s been hot; you can’t walk from the market to your room—just three blocks in total—without needing a shower at the end of it. Why isn’t anyone else dripping with sweat, you wonder as you walk as slowly as you can down the shady side of the street. You imagine that the black and white tiled sidewalks might feel cool if your feet were bare, and by mid-afternoon you are feeling slightly nauseous, your muscles weak, despite the bottles of water you’ve been scrupulous about drinking throughout the day.
You lie down on your bed in your darkened, rented room and you wait for the whirring fan to cool you down, but it’s too hot to sleep, and when you rise again your throat is dry once more, and it’s so hard to find cold water here, here in the city of Granada. Even the huge Lake Nicaragua isn’t sending any breezes our way, and so the city chokes in dusty heat.
But when you step out onto the streets once more, just when the bells of the churches are announcing five o’clock, you know that it’s finally cooling down. The clouds above you are moving again, and the sun is almost down. And you’re lucky; your month-long visit has coincided with Nicaraguan Festival of Poets, held right in Granada, and so in the plaza the booksellers are still showcasing their collections under big white tents. White plastic chairs are strewn all around beneath the mango trees, and people are sitting and talking, reading, smoking, drinking, feeding their babies. One man plays his guitar and sings.
You run into the Chilean man you met at last night’s reading; he’s wearing the same scarf around his neck, and his bones hold that same delicate grace that they did the evening before, under the lights. He smiles at you, remembers your name, kisses your cheek. The rain begins to fall, lightly. You watch it drop on his skin, on your skin, and you can feel the air growing cooler. The Chilean tells you he’s wandered all over the city today; he’s seen churches, markets, schools, beggars, galleries. He’s fallen in love, he tells you, and you can see in his eyes that it’s true. You can tell by the way he walks away from you after your conversation that, if he could, he would wander these streets forever.
The scent of the rain is everywhere now: on the streets, in the walls of the rose and gold-colored buildings, in the leaves of the trees. On the people. It’s a scent like earthworms, like the lake, like moss, and it is cooling your body down. You walk and walk, slowly, slowly, down one street and up another, past ladies sitting out in the street in rocking chairs, past kids playing soccer in the dirt, past horse-drawn carts, past baskets of bananas, past stacks of apples.
You round a corner and there is the Church, the Church of San Francisco, and it’s a massive white façade, plain white and so simple, so lovely. You think that you’ve never seen a building more beautiful, but maybe it’s just because of this evening light, and the way the setting sun has made pink cracks in the clouds, so that everything, this church included, seems to glow. You are certain that you’ve never stood beneath a sky like this one. The scent of the rain, the wet streets, the drops on your skin and in your hair. These churches, these poets, and pineapple juice on your fingers. As you turn, finally, to walk towards home, you look up once more, up to the honey-colored clouds, the final glints of sun, and you realize that you, too, have fallen in love.