Bian and Jon began preparations with gusto.
First, they needed a list of logistics to give Mr. Ly when they met with him in November. Mr. Ly and his friends, and friends’ friends worldwide, would pay all expenses; they would handle all details, such as reservations for air travel and hotels and rental cars; they would contact the best interpreters in each country and pay them; they would contact leading newspapers and other news organizations in the world, including, but not limited to, the New York Times,the Washington Post, Le Monde, Times of India, China Daily, Russian Today, BBC, CNN, and MSNBC; and they would contact the leading media–newspapers and TV and radio stations–in the largest city of each country prior to Bian and Jon’s visit there. Moreover, they would contact and procure legal permission from each family in the chosen small town in each country, a family who would be indigenous, poor, and speak a dialect, not the dominant language of the nation.
Next, Bian and Jon would begin researching each country beginning with Mexico, then all countries in Central and South America. Each visit would last four days. The first day (Day 1), they would meet the interpreter at the airport who then would drive them by rental car to the chosen small town to meet with the selected family. Bian and Jon were so excited as they looked forward to talking with all members of the family, then eating dinner with them, then spending the night with the family (each would bring a sleeping bag). In the morning (Day 2), the interpreter would drive Bian and Jon to the largest city in the country where they would stay in a hotel to rest. The following day (Day 3), Bian and Jon would leisurely enjoy touring the city to visit its most interesting sites. After a good night’s sleep, they would take a cab (Day 4) to the airport and fly to their next destination.
Mexico was the first of over 200 nations Bian and Jon would visit during 2024 and 2025. After much investigation on their computer, they chose the very small town of Aldama (pop: 1,270). The dialect: Tzotzil, a Mayan language. In Belize, where surprisingly English, not Spanish, was the dominant language, they found the town of Dangriga (pop: 9,593). The dialect: Carib. In Guatemala, they selected San Jose Calderias (pop: 3,000). The dialect: K’iche’. They chose Krausirpi in Honduras (pop: 930). The dialect: Twanka. In El Savador, they selected Suchitoto (pop: 24,786). The dialect: Nanuati. In Nicaragua, they decided on Niquinohomo (pop: 8,350). The dialect: English Creole, a mix of Spanish, English, and African dialects. And in Panama, Bian and Jon chose Yaviva (pop: 4,441). The dialect: Wounnan.
Now South America. In Venezuela, they decided on Maroa (pop: 890). The dialect: Wayuu. They chose Pijao (pop: 5,700) in Colombia. The dialect: Paisa. They decided on Mahdia (pop: 2,563) in Guyana. The dialect: Secchia. They chose in French Guiana the town of Awala-Yalimapo (pop: 1,344). The dialect: Creole patois. In Suriname, they decided on Kwakoegron (pop: 263). The dialect: Sranan Tongo. In Ecuador, they selected Sigchos (pop: 7,933). The dialect: Quichua. They chose Ollantaytambo (pop: 1,000) in Peru. The dialect: Quechua. They decided on Sorata (pop: 2,217) in Bolivia. The dialect: Aymara. Jon was excited to go to Isla Negra in Chile, because Pablo Neruda made his home there for 40 years. They were not able to ascertain both the town’s population and and dialect, if any, in Isla Negra, but Jon was easily willing to be unconcerned about these omissions. Neruda ******* both.They decided on Bahia Negra (pop: 800) in Paraguay. The dialect: Pai Tavytera. Another deviation, this one in Argentina. Bian and Jon both wanted to go to Rosario, birthplace of Che Guevara, so they put aside again the need for data. They decided on the coastal town of Pirapolos (pop: 8.830), Uruguay. The dialect: Portunol. Another coastal town, Moro de Sao Paulo (population unable to ascertain), is one of the smaller towns of Brazil, where Portuguese supplants Spanish as the dominant language. Interestingly, the Hebrew language is the de facto dialect spoken in Moro, which is why Bian and Jon chose it to visit.
After three long, but incredibly stimulating, days of research and discovery, Bian and Jon had completed the list of towns they would begin visiting on 2 January 2024 in Mexico, and the smaller towns of Central and South America, a list they would give to Mr. Ly when they traveled to Lima, Peru 20 November. Somewhat tired, but extremely gratified, they sat on the sofa in early evening to listen to Jon’s favorite Beethoven Symphony, #7. The Sympony’s second movement “was a jewel,” Jon said. Of course, he leaned back and closed his eyes as he listened.
When the recording was over, and after a silent pause, Jon slowly stood up, and without ever saying a word, reached down and picked up Bian, and holding her in his arms, carried her carefully into the bedroom where he stood her up beside the bed, then, slowly and softly, undressed her, and after he had pulled back the bed sheets, picked Bian up again and lay her on the bed. Then he undressed and got into bed beside her.
The room was dark and full of silence. Then Jon turned toward the woman who had brought limitless joy into his life and said to her, “Bian, who in the Heavens made you?” And then he kept leaning until he gently lay upon his wife, and these two lovers made love deep into the dark of night.