|Part of the Legion of Ucagiz Quayside Cats|
"I am a psychologist. I specialise in family problems." It was nice of her to warn me.
I decided to vet all possible future remarks for signs of weirdness.
I did OK too, it wasn't until nearly two hours later that she said, "You're a bit weird, you know that?"
"I have heard that..."
"I'm interested why your brother is in Rio and you are in Japan. Why is that?"
Her family had experienced problems. She told me her mother had thrown her sister's hamster in the garbage.
"She thought it was dead, but it was winter sleeping."
She herself had kept tiny frogs until the day she came home from school to find them gone.
They were probably eaten by ants, reasoned her mother.
"I cried for months!"
We arrived at dusk. The sky was grey and overcast, the sea so flat it seemed more like a Scottish loch.
We went looking for a pensyion.
"Let me do the talking", advised Serena.
"Please do", I said as we appoached the first hotel.
"How much is a room?"
"50, with a nice breakfast", smiled the owner.
"No! I am from a poor country! Argentina!"
"Well, what do you want to pay?", chuckling and unaware that 50 kilos of pure tenacity was about to detonate.
"I have no money. I can only pay 30!"
"Impossible...", placating with his hands.
Most tourists understand the need for haggling, but I haven't met anyone who revelled in the act like Serena.
She truly relishes any chance to negotiate and, like Greek legend Antaeus, she seemed to return stronger and more determined after any setback.
The battle between owner and challenger raged for a good twenty minutes, but the outcome was never in serious doubt.
"Okay, okay, 35 for room and breakfast", the owner finally conceded clutching a gatepost, glazed and pale.