Through the thin walls of my Baños hotel room, I reluctantly followed a courtship from start to finish. She was American, very young, and thought Ecuador was, like, amazing. His deep mumble was harder to place—he talked less, for one thing—but after many hours I was fairly sure he was Australian.

They had met on the gringo bus from Quito, and they started the evening in separate rooms. Doors squeaked and there were coy giggles across the corridor as they planned a night out. Drinking piña coladas without fake ID here was sooooo fucking cool.

At four a.m. they came back, bumping the walls and fumbling with the key. The giggles were louder now. Cigarette filters make good earplugs; I wished I smoked. For two hours they rutted, vigorously and inexpertly, inches from my headboard. I lay awake, cross, and wondered if the final Valley Girl shriek would be
´Like, oh God.´

Young flesh triumphs over piña coladas and lack of sleep. By 8.30 am she was chattering again and begging, as far as I was concerned, for a sound slap. Or maybe a pillow over her face.
   ´So, like, I couldn’t believe it when the doctor turns around, toe-dully casual, and goes, ‘Oh yeah, like, by the way, your cervix is twisted.’ And I’m going ‘What? What are you talking about? My cervix is twisted? What does that mean? Am I in-fur-dul?´

The Aussie mumble grew perceptibly less enthusiastic as she chirruped on. He was probably stealthily chewing his arm off at the shoulder, coyote-style. I would have.
   ’I mean, can you believe she just drops that a pretty important piece of my body is twisted out of shape, like it’s no big deal? I was so freaked out. I was looking up ‘cervix’ on the innernet to find out what shape it was supposed to be…’

Some day, when I know more than I know now, I’ll write an update of The Rules™, a how-to-deal-with-men guide for women who are not diamond-hungry, blow-dried freaks. And somewhere in there, very specifically, I’ll instruct girls like my neighbor in Hostal Pedregal.
   ´Sweetheart, if you ever want to see him again, skip the vagina monologues the morning after. And give the poor lad more than two hours sleep. Your neighbors will thank you, too.’

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