Cua Dai Beach, near Hoi An.
Under the shade of umbrellas rented from the beachfront restaurant, I was discussing the volunteer program Roz, a girl I'd just met from New Zealand, was working for in Da Nang and how she'd learned the Vietnamese she'd picked up in the four months she'd been living here, when we were approached by yet another old lady trying to sell us crackers and cookies. Roz was hungry, so she bought some. The lady was highly entertained by her broken Vietnamese (in much the same way old ladies are amused when I speak Korean) and called over some young girls sitting one umbrella down the beach.
After the old lady departed, the girls stuck around. The boldest, and youngest (born in 1987), was nicknamed Chua, which means "sour" in Vietnamese. She eyed Roz's candy. Roz offered her some.
A few minutes later, after finishing the snack, Chua stares at the empty wrapper. "It is no good."
"Really?" Roz inquires. "You finished it."
"Yes," Chua declares. "One is not good, but maybe two is good."
We laugh. Roz hands her another. "Three is better," Chua says eagerly.
"We'll run out!" says Roz.
"It's ok. I will call the lady back. We will get more."
"You'll buy?" says Roz.
"I will open my big heart," she implies she will generously treat us to the second round of snacks. Then... "You will open your big wallet." Roz and I are clutching our sides.
"Ok, ok. I have big heart, but little wallet. Later, I will get you dinner. I will jump in the ocean and catch a fish. Free fish for you," says Chua.
"Cam on. Thank you," says Roz.
"For dinner?" I ask.
"Yes. Dinner in next life," says Chua. "You die, come back; I bring you fish."
"Where did you learn English?" I ask.
Chua is deadpanned in her response. "The moon."
She has some necklaces and bracelets for sale.
"They are magic," she says. "You have boyfriend?"
"No," says Roz.
"Well, you buy bracelet, you wear, you get boyfriend," claims Chua. "You buy from me, next time you come back on your honeymoon. You want to buy more, but you can't. Because I am on the moon."
"What if it doesn't work?" I ask.
"Double money back." says Chua.
Of course, I bought a bracelet with magic eye beads for Min Gi and a necklace made of green shells for me. Hopefully Moon Magic will keep us together (and laughing) for a long time.