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Chapter 1.

Two weeks ago I arrived in Mexico City or, as they say here, Distrito Federal. Always a hassle to come out through customs and luggage pick up. At the customs the waiting takes quite a long time to get out, especially if you are a foreigner. Mexicans have a separate check post, like many airports have that for residents. After I had picked up my bags and went through the last check, I was ready for a cigarette. It was a long flight and I could not sleep on the plane. Usually I manage that, but this time I was surrounded by a teenager, who was very active in his sleep, to my left and an oversized Welshman, who constantly spoke unintelligible English to me, to my right. It goes without saying that sleep was impossible during the flight.
Once outside I smoked my first cigarette in sixteen hours. Once outside I turned my first cigarette in sixteen hours. I lit it and took a long puff. I felt the nicotine flowing through my veins, it fell into my legs, as if they were made out of concrete and I was light-headed. Not only the effect of the first cigarette after so much time was debit thereto, but also the thinner air of Mexico City contributed to this. . The city is 2300 meters above sea level, surrounded by mountains and two volcanoes, Ixtaxihuatl the sleeping wife and Popocatepetl the waking husband. There is even an old Mexican folktale about this fearsome couple. Like a real metropolis this city surrounds you completely, swallows you up and, if you’re not careful, also spits ypu put in an utmost grim way. As I struggled to keep me standing by the nicotine, I went to sit down on one of my bags and I enjoyed every puff. With my rumpled clothes, disheveled hair and more than a day beard I would not look out of place as a tramp in 19th-century Paris.
As usual Natasha would pick me up with her parents, but this time it took quite a long time, so I went back inside to the arrivals hall to look for her. She was very small, even for a Mexican, and maybe I had overlooked her. After having walking back and forth a few times, I was sure that she had not arrived yet. A city of 26 million people could easily have traffic jams , especially when you consider that most Mexicans have had no driving lessons and therefore do not always know how to behave in traffic. Driving lessons in Mexico were not required, nor was a license. So she had not yet arrived. I went back outside to wait there and lit another cigarette. I sat down once again on my suitcase for a little comfort and this time I enjoyed a lot more of the tobacco.
It has now been almost five years since I met Natasha through social media. I saw her photo and was immediately fascinated by the expression in her face. For at least fifteen minutes I had been staring mesmerized at that photo. Until I finally could tear my eyes from it and wrote that I found her face very beautiful and refreshing, of course in English. I was not sure if she spoke English as well, but to my relief she replied to me in English and thus dispelled my doubts about the communication.
After we had asked and answered each other’s informative questions, she wrote that I was pretty annoying. Apparently I kept pushing to get some more personal information about her, which she initially did not want to give me. I answered with my standard defensive sentence: “Thank you, I love you too”. It then remained silent for several minutes, which in my mind took forever. But suddenly there was this question from her:
“Are you serious? How can you know already that you love me? Tell me honestly, do you love me? Are you in love with me?”

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