Salsa with Santos
Julie took me to her favorite spot in Marseille ... the Quartre de Creatres, or the Quarter of Creators, the pulsing artistic square where all of the magic happens. I loved it the second we walked up the steps. There was so much creativity, expression, and life everywhere. Bright greens and yellows and reds were painted right on the stones of the street or walls; men sang regae in the streets and beat on drums and guitars; children danced around firecrackers; laughter bellowed out with young enthusiasts as they stumbled out of bars and danced to the music by the fountains.
Julie and I sat outside on the patio. We had a few beers, and shared a few secrets, and then decided to wander the streets and find another place to sit. We walked down the side streets, and I was enamored by it all - the music, the crowds, the passion that drummed through everyone I passed.
Enter Santos ....
Acrobat. Kite Surfer, Jungle Leader. Tarzan in the flesh. Speaker of 9 languages, wilderness hunter, wind surfer, salsa dancer, and self proclaimed spiritual leader, reader and healer. He pointed me out of the crowd and told me that my aura drew him to me. (Well, I had to give the kid points for originality).
He didn't drink. He didn't smoke. And he did not wear deodorant. But he was spritual and alive in all sorts of ways. A sleevless cut off and jeans with dark skin and muscles he was far too proud of. He was Columbian and Moraccan, but had lived all over the world. (At least he told an interesting tale, if he hadn't.) He had a dangerous yet youthful face that made him look younger than he was and an energy to match. His curly dark hair hung below the nape of his neck in a thick unruly way. He was king of the jungle cats.
He fervently believed that his spirit animals were not one, but three ... a black panther, a dolphin, and an eagle, but not just any sort of eagle and certainly not a bald eagle, but the most regal of them all. (This guy was 100% serious). Santos sat entirely too close and his eyes peirced you, searching, trying to read you as you spoke.
"You have an emotional burden resting on your left side," he spoke to me as if I would take him seriously. I looked down at my left shoulder which was the only bare shoulder I was showing and looked up at him cryptically.
"Nope. I don't have any emotional burdens. I just like to wear my shirts like this," I responded.
He seemed flustered and readusted his feather rustling tactic like the peacock he was. He seemed cocky at first and that was because he was but over the night, he became something much more. Deep and spiritual if you could get through the weeds of strangeness. He wanted to take me salsa dancing. I wasn't interested in him romantically in the least bit. But what I was interested in was experiences. Stories. So I went.
There was another guy with us - a Messiah looking character, with hair that hung down his back, who carried a tree branch for a walking stick and was prepared to part the red sea at any moment. Santos was as centered yet ADD as they come. We would be walking along down a corner street and suddenly he'd be gone. Off changing lives. Scanning the area for him, you'd find him talking with a woman on a bike and embracing her as she cried, or with an old man having a deep conversation in German.
He was an even more intense salsa dancer than he was a person. Whipping you aroud the dance floor in an underground, dark club. He would pull me against him rather forcefully and demand to be looked at in his eyes the entire time. I couldn't hold his gaze and would falter it to the floor as I tripped over his feet. His eyes were burning with an unmasked passion that you don't see on a day to day basis. But Santos was burning with a passion for everything.
Unfortunately, Santos was a bit too intense and passionate for this world and I spent the next 5 days avoiding him, making up excuses and then telling harsh truths when they didn't work to get out of meeting him. Then bumping into him on the beach the next day and getting told off for my disrespectful declines from his attention. I told Santos that everybody was entitled to change their minds but he did not agree. He stormed off after a few choice words and I never saw him again.