A guy in his late forties comes out in nothing more than a towel, from what looks like a tool cleaning shed next to the main building. It’s dark and I have my headlight on so I can see enough to put up the tent. All he could see of me was the tent and my outline.
In Portuguese I can never tell if they are happy, or upset as the tone of their speech is so musical. This guy is talking a mile a minute to me and I don’t understand a word. So I walk over and say, “No Portuguese” the only words I’m sure I know in his language.
He looks at me a bit closer, sees my bike and the sweaty mess I am. Then explains quite dramatically about my sleeping arrangement. I figure out that he wants me to know that it will probably rain and I’ll get very wet back here. He then walks me to the front of his shop, tells me to set my tent there. He then explains where I can find fresh water, then walks me over to the tool cleaning shed and shows me the shower. Seems both people and tools get cleaned in this shed.
He asks about me trip, I explain I’m going to the Amazon. He tells me a bunch of things about the Amazon where I vaguely pick up that it’s better to go in July and August when it’s dry, and to be careful.
I leave to go and get the water. 33oC days, I’m totally parched. When I get back he presents me with a ticket that has a hand written note on it. He points at the restaurant about 100ft away and explains in great detail something to do with the note. I’m tired, confused, and can not for the life of me figure out what the note has to do with the restaurant.
Finally he loses patience, walks me over to the lady at the entrance of the restaurant and tries to get her to explain to me. It’s something about a buffet, but I still don’t understand. This guy is trying to keep a low profile while fifty or so single truckers with not much else garner their attention watch me stare blankly. Finally the lady gets the waiter who takes my hand, shows me the buffet. Explains how the plates work to put food on them, and shows me that if I sit down after I can eat here!
Ohh man, it finally clicked. This guy had pre-paid for a dinner and drink for me and wanted to do it discreetly. Instead I have the whole place watching us while I’m being walked through a four-item buffet then taken to a seat. It’s like my first day of school here people.
I see the guy sneak by about five minutes later to check on me, then he disappears. The waiter presents me with the huge piece of BBQ’d meat on a skewer after I sit down. I engulf it along with some various starches and beans. Then, 45-minutes later I head back to the guys workshop where his car is now gone. I shower in the tool shed, fall asleep on his patio, and wake up about 30-times to the sound of truckers air brakes in the night.
The guys back at the shop at 5:40am. I’m awake and greet him, actually I barely slept. He gives me some more Amazon tips. Explains the drive there and where to turn for this and that road. I pack up my stuff so he can open his shop. We then go for a coffee, where he REFUSES to let me pay. I explain via my google translate app that he is extremely helpful. We take a selfie where he forgets to smile, and I’m back on the road.
Now ask yourself. If you heard a rustling behind your shop in the dark, would your first reaction be to invite the guy in with whom can not communicate with you. Show him to a shower, buy him dinner, let him spend the night, then send him off with a coffee in the morning? I’m not sure the story would be the same…