There was a spare street cart with a built-in deep-fryer sitting in the kitchen – doing nothing other than housing 600 cockroaches – so Angelica decided to put it to use.
She started a hamburger business.
It was to be her first 100 percent self-owned, self-managed enterprise and she was nervous. Shaking. As sweat dripped from her forehead, Ania and I helped chop the vegetables, peel the potatoes, and carry the cooking supplies.
When everything was ready, Angelica claimed a street corner, lit the gas flame and started selling burgers with fries at $2 a piece. It worked instantly. The drunks surrounded her street cart, drooling and impatient, because nothing costs less than $5 in the luxury resort desert oasis that is Huacachina.
She sold out the first night. Ania made her schannzy sign the second night and she sold out again.
It was a success for everyone …
… except her husband. He told her to stop the hamburger business.
“People talk too much in this town,” he said. “I don’t want everyone seeing you out on the street selling fried junk food.”
Apparently, he didn’t like the idea of his woman making money. I couldn’t understand it at first so I asked around and people simply said, “you know how Latin men are.”
Angelica stopped the hamburger business as quick as she started it. Just a day earlier she had told us she wanted to work the streets every night. She enjoyed it. But now the street cart sat in the kitchen again, its fresh grease nourishing new colonies of cockroaches. Angelica couldn’t question her husband.
“He has diabetes,” she said. “He gets upset easily. I don’t want to do anything that could disturb his condition.”
And that was that. With the short-lived hamburger business, Ania and I realized why we were such a welcome distraction in a household of muffled misery.
We figured it was best to get out of the way so we told Angelica we’d be leaving soon. She looked at us in shock. Tears started forming in her eyes and she yelled:
“But you can’t leave!”
We cooked her a nice pasta bolognese and left the next day.
Huacachina, Peru - © Diego Cupolo 2012