I have never been to a nudie beach. Nor been topless at a topless one. Travelling in the more conservative areas of Asia and South America never presented me with the opportunity. Something I am grateful for. Unfortunately, that does not mean my parts have not been thoroughly exposed.
Set to depart from Quito, Ecuador to the Galapagos the next morning, I can procrastinate no longer. I must find a swimsuit. So instead of visiting the equator or a nearby volcano, I venture out in search of swim wear. It may very well be the worst day of my 6 month travels in South America.
First off, I can not find a department store open anywhere in the city. Nor a bathing suit store. Eventually, after many failed attempts inquiring where I could buy a swim suit, I am directed to a lingerie shop. I am in hell.
But I saunter in. Completely intimidated and self conscious. The only lady in the shop immediately hovers. She speaks but too fast so I do not understand a word. Her eyes are wide. Toothpick open wide. She appears elated at the challenge of fitting me into a bathing suit. Maniacally elated. Eventually she understands I need some swim wear for the Galapagos and I learn she is from Argentina and owns this, among other, stores. She pulls me into a change room that is not a room at all, simply a curtain, and begins depositing suit after suit inside. Most of which are of the String Bikini variety. I immediately gather up all of these, place them in a pile and shake my head vehemently. There is NO way. My Argentinian sales lady in Ecuador looks both appalled and bemused.
There are only 2 suits left. The first makes me look like a wilted flower arrangement. I step out of the curtain and Wide Eyes tries not to laugh. She grabs my thighs. Man-handles my ass. Perks up my boobs while mumbling what I’m sure is directions to the nearest back alley boob doctor. She pulls out one of the Strings, urging me to give it a try. I try to be polite. I laugh and close the curtain in her face. I try not to imagine taking that string and shoving it down her petite mouth.
Removing the flowery suit, I plot my escape from the depths of hell that I am in. Then the curtain rips open. Wide Eyes, unblinking and unfazed, bursts in staring at my fully exposed body, mid change, all the while chit-chattering. She turns me around checking out my butt and putting a String up to it. Then she laughs, shakes her head and agrees, no String for me. My jaw is still on the floor. I try to cover up, cartoon character style when all its fur disappears, but there is no hiding. Mirrors reflect my intense whiteness all around and Wide Eyes will not even give me a blink for privacy. Helpless, I pick up the black swimsuit. The last one. Wide Eyes winks at me and waits for me to put it on. She will not leave. I have never been more nervous about dressing. Even upon waking in a near strangers bed and gathering up my strewn clothes.
Still no blink. So as quick as I can, I get on that last swimsuit. Black. Simple. With butt. It is perfect. Wide Eyes agrees after a quick boob push up and smoothing of the rolls. Fortunately, knowing she has a sale, she quickly departs my curtain to ring in my purchase. With Superman speed, I change back into my clothing before she thinks up another reason for a naked visit.
Feeling somewhat violated and certainly embarrassed, I politely smile, making no eye contact, and thank Wide Eyes for her assistance. What else could I do but grin and bare it?!