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The lone wanderer

Day 15: Itecare

The rain was beating down heavily as the five of us checked into our new hostel in Itecare.  Yes.  Five, not four.  The previous night, as we queued up to board our long distance bus from Salvador, a short, glasses-wearing guy from Switzerland who appeared to be around the age of twenty five overheard us chatting loudly in English and jumped from his seat to introduce himself.

He too, was making his way to Itecare, after spending a few weeks in Salvador learning how to speak the local lingo and how to perfect his surfing skills.  Bernard asked if he could join us and we had another addition to our crew.

Although I had spent less than an hour in Itecare - and with it being only eight in the morning, everything was shut - I could tell I already liked the place.  It was a tiny village by the Atlantic coast, with a single high street that could be covered on foot in less than five minutes.  The road was mainly roughly covered with brickwork, and partially sandy in some stretches.  It was definitely a tourist town, with shops selling all sorts of novelty items, from arts and crafts to massages and zip lining sessions.

I looked through my travel guide, only to discover that Itecare hadn't even been worthy of a mention.  Other guides like the Lonely Planet barely made a passing reference to this town.  Evidently we were well off the beaten track.

As we hauled our backpacks up the stairs and into the dorm room, the ruckus woke up someone sleeping on one of the bunk beds.  He introduced himself as Neil.  We all quickly filled him in on our previous destinations and journey so far.  While Odette, Ivan and Walter were desperate for some shut-eye, I on the other hand, was desperate for something to eat.  Neil and Bernard decided to accompany me for breakfast.

The three of us walked a few steps down the high street and into a small cafe for breakfast.  While we ate, I probed Neil's adventures even further.  He had been in Brazil for eight months already and told his mother back home he did not have any plans to return to New Zealand.

I wondered what it was like living in Brazil as supposed to being just a short-term tourist.

'The novelty wears off after a while,' he said as he fingered the slice of toast on his plate.  'People always try and take advantage of you because they think you have loads of money.'

'So what's the plan after Itecare?' I asked.

'Just take my car and keep on driving!' he replied with a small laugh.

He was referring to the second-hand banger he bought for dirt cheap upon arrival in Brazil.  Apparently he filled it with petrol every day, got in the car and just kept on driving and driving, only stopping when he had run out of fuel.  His tank of empty petrol had landed him in Itecare.

'So you want to live here full-time?' I asked, still confused about his plans and trying to work out why he had left New Zealand so suddenly.

'Well, my visa runs out in a month, but I don't want to go back home ever again.  I might just stay and hope they never catch me.'

'My father passed away suddenly,' he added, as if reading my thoughts.  'I just wanted to get away from New Zealand.'

As we finished up breakfast and settled the bill, the weather outside was still wet, so the three of us jumped in Neil's car and went for a leisurely cruise around the village.  We drove to the various beaches, the zip lining trails and other tourist attractions before returning through the high street to our hostel.

Neil was thinking of driving to some waterfalls and natural pools a couple hours away.

'Are you sure you don't want to come?  I could do with the company.  You guys seem pretty cool and it's nice to be able to talk to people without a language barrier,' he almost pleaded.

But neither Bernard nor I were up for it.  Having spent the previous nine hours cooped up on an uncomfortable overnight bus trip, the idea of bundling ourselves into a car for yet another journey didn't appeal.

'Oh well,' Neil shrugged, his nonchalance failing to hide the disappointment in his voice.  'I might be coming back to the hostel afterwards, so maybe I'll see you guys later today.'

We watched as Neil hauled his battered suitcase into the boot, slid into the car and slowly drove off.

We never saw him again.


Balanced Melting Pot said...

What an interesting person. I don't know if it's the American culture in me or me being nosy, but whenever I meet someone and have a somewhat decent conversation with them, I always want to know what becomes of them. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that sometimes peoples' paths cross just for a little bit and no more.

Anonymous said...

Very dramatique. Is that a word?

The Backpacker said...

@ Balanced Melting Pot: What gets me is how random the encounters were. What if I had never gone to Itecare in the first place? Or what if the hostel had placed us in another room? Think that's one thing I loved about my trip the was so unpredictable, you could never tell what was going to happen the next day.

@ Vanessa G: I get what you mean either way. Suppose that's a compliment? ;)

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