With my eyes closed, I listen to the calming sound of the sea. My back is on the soft, warm sand. Some salty water drops are slowly making their way from my belly down to the beach. I`m about to take my last jump in the Atlantic Ocean (for now). I gaze at the famous Ipanema beach, the buildings, the taxi`s, the buses that are rushing past. The high green mountains in the background who, like an older brother, embrace the city with their calm and strong appearance. And of course Christ, the 38 m. high wonder of the world. Looking down at the city like a friendly, kind-hearted father. His arms wide and open. Built on top of a mountain, where you can see him watching over you from every angle of the city. Strategically put there in the hope to change the minds of any (potential) criminals and lower the high rate of crime in town.
With a plate full of food and two cups of tea I join the breakfast table. “Here Rachel, for you.” I say to my English roommate from bed number 21. “How`s your Brexit hangover? Calmed down a bit?” I ask her. “Ah, it`s ok. Any news from your own country?” She asks in return. “Well, my favourite theme park is being sued because, apparently, they have `racist` rides. Besides that, there is some unrest in regards to the healthcare system.”
With a big `puff` I put my backpack on the sight of the road. Three policemen curiously observe my actions from behind their pilot-worthy-sunglasses. With their hands in their pockets they casually lean against their massive police 4x4. Their curiosity reveals their happiness that there`s finally something happening at the gas station of the sleepy little, rural town of Daireaux. A small country town that, besides a notification on google maps, won`t receive a lot more fame. A little than 30 minutes before, we had been dropped off here by an overfriendly truck driver. He was out of the world excited that he finally met other hitchhikers on the route 65 than his local neighbours.
An old man slowly sits next to me. His back is painfully bended forward and almost forms the shape of half a moon. With great effort he lifts up his head as far as he can to greet me. His face is deeply wrinkled by the many years of intense sun in this altitude. “Buenos dias mi hija.” (Good morning my child) he says with his toothless smile. “Buenos dias señor.” Even though I was used to the fact that elderly people would apply to me as their child, it still felt uncomfortable to reply with the common `Papi` or `Mami`. With a firm sip I try to suck the last bit of juice out of my glass. I sneak over the counter to see if the lady has a bit more left in the blender. There is, at least enough for another glass. I put on my charming best and do the trick I`ve seen other with Peruvians.
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into 2,5 years and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto