It’s somewhere between 10:00pm and midnight. The sun appears to be thinking about the possibility that it might drop down below the horizon for a few hours. Jimmie starts to yawn, tries to stifle it, gives up and lets it go. His jaw makes a popping sound, and we grab the edges of the table as if the force of his inhalation is going to suck us from our seats. After a remarkably long time, Jimmie’s face reforms into a sheepish smile. "Sorry," he says, "It’s Sean’s fault, you know." Jimmie switches to his Marvin the Martian voice. "I’m feeling very sleepy. Very sleepy indeed!"

Sean raises an eyebrow, then shrugs cheerfully. "That sky!" he says. "So amazing! A high cloud deck, sun painting it from below, over the green and yellow fields! I’m going to have such awesome stuff!" He taps his camera bag fondly. We’d already come back from a tour, then Sean insisted that we had time to take a taxi trip to see the geothermals at Seltún. It had been amazing to see, a riot of colors, like we’d been transported to Mars, which had led to Jimmie’s Marvin routine. It was our first sunny day, and the landscape was transformed. We’d had to stop for Sean to take more photos several times on the way back. It made for a very long day, and Sean was the only one young enough not to be completely worn out. “Doctor Salaya and Doctor Sharma are going to be sooo jealous!” Sean’s medical friends continued on the cruise ship, and he misses being able to geek out with them about lenses and so forth.

We’re shouting a bit to be heard, the bar is crowded and boisterous. Another cruise ship is in port, and has flooded the town with Germans, or Dutchmen, or something similar. Our group has developed an easy camaraderie that makes it acceptable to lean drunkenly into one another's faces. I remind Sean that he owes us copies of the group photo we took today, and he does a little seated bow in acknowledgement. His gesture accidentally taps the beer glass of one of the maybe-Germans. The affronted gentleman, a young man with the build of an athlete, looks down at Sean and then frowns at his "Love is Love" t-shirt. He says something I can’t hear to Sean, and the smile drops from Sean's face. Sean makes a placating gesture, but the other man's not having it. He makes another remark and Sean's eyes roll. Sean looks at us and tips his head in the direction of the door.

Jimmie nods and stands up casually, but the European man turns as if threatened. Two wingmen coalesce from the crowd around him. Jimmie smiles, and says something about offering them the table. The rest of us stand up as well, and Liz shouts across the table that she'll buy them a round. It looks like the moment has passed. Then one of the wingmen hooks a thumb at Liz and says something to Jimmie. His pals guffaw.

Time seems to slow down. Jimmie turns more squarely towards the men and gives his head a little tilt to the right that men must learn from action movies, which means, it's time to fight. Sean reads the body language, hesitates, and hands his camera bag across the table to me. Scott makes a resigned face and steps clear of the table to flank the troublemakers. Then quite suddenly a short, bald, and very muscular man materializes out of the crowd. He says something stern and authoritative, but so quietly that I can’t hear him. There’s a moment's hesitation, and the bald man's eyes narrow slightly. The young men glance at each other and a consensus emerges. They step back, and then head for the door. They brush roughly past Jimmie, and there's a minor collision, but nothing develops. The bald bouncer apologizes to Liz, who smiles and waves it off. Jimmie and the bouncer confer, they shake hands, and the bouncer puts his phone to his ear. Jimmie herds us towards the door. “A cab’s been called,” he tells us. This seems a bit frivolous, as nobody’s that drunk, but the bouncer comes out with us to the street, and I see that the belligerent young men haven't gone far–they're having a smoke across the street. Tight smiles are exchanged. The same Hreyfill taxi van we’d used for the Seltún trip pulls up a minute later, and we’re off to the hotel. We crowd together in the back in relief, and collapse in a heap, with Jimmie and Scott on the bottom and the rest of us in their laps. Sean somehow manages to get his camera out and take a quick shot of our tormentors. I’m not sure that’s wise, but it makes Jimmie laugh, and a moment later we all dissolve into hysterics, a big giddy mob. Love is love, indeed.

fight ... quest ... flight

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