Because palm trees are popsicle sticks with afros.
Because stratums upon años of postered wall peel forward,
wave to the millions treading cobblestone at sunrise.
Because horse-pulled rickshaws shuffle on beside BMWs.
Because qué rico, qué rico, they say.
Because there is only one special-of-the-day and you either like it,
or you don’t, but who wouldn’t?
Because we greet one another with kisses on the cheek.
Because the roofs have frosted windows to let in more light.
Because protests are fought by throwing
paint-filled balloons at government buildings.
(Fireworks with megaphones all year-round.)
Because taxis are reckless so everyone’s eyes must be
open, always. Because they grill corn on the street,
fan the smoldering coals with cardboard scraps;
the smoke signals of the working class.
Because they sell beer in plastic liter-sized containers.
Because the Andes are still taller than the buildings
and there are still people who climb to the top on their knees
as a form of prayer. Because the national dance demands hips.
Because there are no bus stops, just outstretched arms.
Because friends of friends merit outstretched arms.
Because you can always hear music somewhere.

“Why would you move from a first-world country
to a third-world country?” he asks me.


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