Laughing hysterically, I run back to where I’d stashed my phone earlier to protect it from the liquids flying around. I turn back around as soon as I find it, trying to get to the tanks of water in time to take a video of Elena – the other Fellow in Tarqui – being thrown in. But my cries to wait are ignored by the young men who have, for the last few hours, been systematically dunking anyone they could get their hands on. Unfortunately not even the iPhones’ highly convenient access to the camera from the lock screen was quick enough, and I missed the moment.
Still chuckling, I go over to offer words of comfort to Elena. I don’t have time to do more than open my mouth before I’m lifted up into the air. Four guys, one per limb, carry me over to the tanks.
In hindsight, I have no idea how I didn’t foresee the possibility that I would be their next target.
“Wait, wait, my phone is in my pocket!” Helpfully, the guy who had been holding one of my arms lets go so I can pull out my phone, which I thrust into a waiting pair of hands.
Electronics safely out of harm’s way, I don’t have time to do anything more than close my eyes and take a deep breath before I’m lowered face up into the water.
The tank itself is not particularly large – the backs of my knees rest on one edge, sparing my shoes from the water, and my shoulders rest against the other side. The water wasn’t particularly deep either, just enough to cover my lower torso and upper thighs. But these guys aren’t amateurs. As soon as my arms and legs are released torrents of water come pouring down on me, from buckets and quite possibly a hose.
Thoroughly soaked and wiping water out of my eyes, I stumble away from the throng.
I was met by amused sympathy at the Chilcatotora tent, as well as a few children from the elementary school. The same kids that had just minutes ago been aiming their water balloons, squirt guns, cornstarch, and foam at me come over to help me dry off.
While their parents laugh, several little girls start to wring the water out of my fleece and jeans as I’m still wearing them. Seeing my immobility and vulnerability, Klever walks up to me, smiling and shaking a can of karioka.
“No, don’t do that!” I say as he comes closer. He giggles and shakes his head.
Incapacitated by the tiny people clinging to my limbs, I’m helpless to dodge or retaliate as Klever sprays, covering my exposed stomach, chest, and face with lemon scented foam.
Covered in soaking wet clothes, soapy foam, and four children, I can’t help laughing even harder than I did watching Elena being dunked.