Los Sures, Part 13: Rio Grande, Mi Manantial

Everything looked like chocolate back then.

When Papi appeared from the dark of the inside of the airport I knew it was him by his walk and the shape of his head first. It was like his face was the face of a stranger for a second, and then it turned into my father’s face. My sister and me yelled “Papi! Papi!” but Fever didn’t say anything.

I think Papi was happy to be home. He shook Poco Loco’s hand and kissed Titi and Mami on the cheek. He never did that at home.

The Skipper went with Titi and Tio to their car. Mami came with us as Papi drove up in a small red rented car. For us, it was like we got a whole brand new car, different from the station wagon our father drove in Brooklyn. And all of us were together in it. It was like a whole new life.

My brother and sister and I were squeezed in the back. Evie in the middle tried to scooch forward to understand Mami and Papi’s conversation with the Skipper in Spanish. She tried to tell him about the lizard we saw, but he kept talking in Spanish. My brother smiled, I think because he liked the new car.

Papi followed Tio Poco Loco to a restaurant on the side of the road. When we got out, we saw that the restaurant was on the edge of a cliff high over a chocolate-colored river. The adults got drinks and talked to each other in Spanish. They gave us juice and soda. Fever and I found a window where we could look down and see the river. The river was way, way down, and I thought about jumping down into it but I was afraid of the water. Even though it looked like chocolate.

Even though I wanted the watch the water like I want to watch cartoons, I still kept turning turning around to look at Papi, to make sure he was really there. Evie seemed to have the same idea, because she never walked more than five feet from our father the entire time. Though I did not think he saw her there.

My brother said the river would be nice to swim in. He said he bet the fish down there were bigger than the ones in the river Mami said was a pool. He said there was probably sharks in there and crocodiles. We wanted to ask Papi because he would know. But he was busy. Fever said he wondered how far down it really was, and if he could dive off and live.

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