Woody and I joined our friend Judy for an overnight yesterday at Barra do Sahy (which we’ve visited before) along the southeastern coast of Brazil. It was great to get out of the city and give Woody a taste of what else Brazil has to offer.
After we settled into the cozy place that Judy has rented for the season, we took a walk into the local town, Sahy. The afternoon was chilly and drizzly, so we decided to mosey into the village and see the sights.
It being winter here, and cold and rainy, most of the small shops were closed, including the restaurant where we had hoped to stop in for a caipirinha or two. (Did I mention it was cold? We needed to warm our insides.)
We were standing forlornly in front of the restaurant when a local fellow walked by, out on an afternoon perambulation. He said that the restaurant might open in the evening, but he wasn’t sure, and suggested that we could get a drink (non-alcoholic) at the padaria (bakery) nearby. We thanked him and he continued on his way.
As luck would have it, he, too, was headed to the beach, so we followed him down the dripping lanes to the windswept beach.
There, perhaps thinking better the devil you know than the devil simply following you, he struck up a conversation with us and began acting as our tour guide.
Turns out that he offers boat rides to local beaches and islands when the weather is more clement. Born and raised in Sahy, he has settled there and runs his little expeditions.
He took us along the beach and then down a dirt road, wanting to show us the village church, but the lane was flooded and we couldn’t get across. So, we turned and followed him back into the village. As we walked, I asked Woody if she was okay with following him, since many of her friends had been warning her of the multitude of dangers in Brazil. We were safe, but I wanted her to feel secure.
“No problem,” she chirped, “we could take him if we had to.” So, we continued to follow his lead. When we stopped to photograph one of the houses along the way, I heard him on his phone. Stepping closer (you can’t be too careful, you know), I heard him say that he was bringing three friends who wanted drinks, and to be ready for us.
A couple of blocks further on, he pointed to a hotel and said we could get drinks there. We invited him to join us, which he did, happily, though he only had water. Sure enough, the bar was staffed and expecting us. I don’t think anyone was staying at the hotel that night.
We sat and enjoyed our cairpirinhas while we chatted with our congenial guide. Turns out his name is George, “like the new British prince!” George is a widower with three grown girls, two of whom have five grandchildren between them. He told us a bit about the village, and about how when we come back when the weather is fair he will take us out for a ride on his boat and leave us on any island for as long as we like, before returning to get us. A planned Robinson Crusoe adventure!
As we spoke, I noticed the young garçon (waiter) listening to us speak, with George in Portuguese and among ourselves in English. I smiled and said, “You speak English, don’t you?” He grinned and said he was learning, and quick as that, Leandro was part of the conversation. Turns out he’s teaching himself English through music and movies. That’s the gumption that’s going to get him ahead in life, if he continues. Set himself apart, and learn English, and he’ll go places in Brazil, even if it’s only to advance in life there in Sahy.
Finally, chilled and knowing that we had a long climb to get back to the house before dark, we declared that it was time to leave. Leandro shook our hands and welcomed us back any time, Judy and Woody bought a book about Sahy, and George showed us the art at the hotel, filling his last moments as our tour guide.
Then he shook our hands, wished us well, and turned down a lane to head home, as we headed back up the hill.
Those are the moments I cherish as we travel, the unexpected encounters with the locals, who want nothing from us but the time to tell us about their country and share a bit about their lives.
Thank you, George, and we’ll surely see you again!