The internet cafe was easy to find. It was the only one in the entire town. A large place, and, at that lunch hour, empty except for the cashier, an ill-favored woman in her forties, short, with bottle butt glasses and a predilection for chewing churrasco. I sat as far away as possible from her, not only for privacy, and connected via Wi-Fi. The laptop took its time and while waiting, two teenagers, black, suggestive and scantily clad entered, paid a connection and opted for a desktop just in front of me. It wasn’t easy, they were smiling mischievously. but I tried to concentrate on my screen.
—Are you American?
Skype come alive and my boss in Toronto appeared “busy”, which meant he was “available” in some cases, like the one I was involved. Thanks to the unexpected congregation I decided for text messages. Nowadays even the monkeys in the jungle seem to understand English. I briefly explained him the situation and waited for his response.
—No. I’m Chinese.
—You’re not Chinese; Chinese have slanted eyes —said one of the black girls.
—“Since you’re on vacation, staying a few days in Não-Me-Toque will save you plenty money … you know what I mean 🙂 “ —wrote my boss.
I suspected what he meant. No point for me to simulate being offended at that remark. We knew each other many years back, from wild Africa.
—“Look who is talking …” —I retorted.
—“Moreover if events you are telling me prove to be real, that means the property should be really worth,” —he added.
His logic wasn’t perfect, but maybe he was right. That’s why he must be my boss, and not vice versa.
—“So if that’s okay with you, spend a few days there to see what you find out” —he wrote.
We then change to conference mode, for other details less morbid to discuss.
—And you don’t speak Chinese —a smart girl, her colleague.
—Have you seen many Chinese people in your life? —I ventured, trying to be acid.
—Why are you now speaking Portuguese? —asked my boss.
—Not to you —I answered—. I got a visit.
—Some —the most brazen said with a playful smile.
—What kind of visit? —my boss was curious.
—Even one comes here often —sentenced the companion.
—Two young experts in ancient cultures —I said sarcastically.
—Jesus, no one understands you —the voice from Toronto now showed some discouragement—. Keep me posted —he hung up.
—Don’t I look like him? —I kept teasing.
—No. You’re older —they started laughing like crazies.
—And you too young —I concluded, starting to close the programs.
—Lend us something to stay connected —the most blatant asked squinting.
—It’s going to be no —I said starting to get up, but suddenly I felt a strange connection—. Is there a place to eat something around here?
—There is a pizza place a block away.
—Have you eaten?
—Yes, but we miss the dessert. You invite us and we show you the site.
—All right, let’s go.
As we passed in front of the cashier, I thought if looks could kill, I’d be dead at that moment. Her eyes were dilated because of disbelief and the thick lenses of her glasses, and resembled those of an owl. She was wiggling her head, and from her mouth was hunging a piece of churrasco that also shook rhythmically. Still she managed to mutter the girls a heartfelt farewell.
—Do you have mobile? —I asked them, already outside.
—Yes — the more blatant girl keep up, technologically speaking.
—Of course! A Galaxy, but no credit to call —of course; a five hundred dollars phone, but no credit to call.
—I don’t need to call, but I propose you a deal —I said as it were nothing—. The next day the Chinese come to the cafe, take a picture of him when he’s distracted and …
—Oh! We’ve already got one.
—And one of you too, when you weren’t looking.
I thought the cashier at the cafe was probably right. What a pair!
—Well, the deal —I continued, avoiding showing my mistrust—. First we delete my photo. Second you pass me the picture of the man. Third, you would never tell the Chinese. And fourth… I give you two a hundred reals.
—Done! —the boldest shouted.
—But we haven’t the cable to download —noted with concern the friend.
—Have you Bluetooth? —the most brazen wasn’t about to miss the opportunity.
I took my iPhone and we made the file transfer. The picture wasn’t very good, but gave an idea of the features of the guy. I paid. Afterwards, I deleted my distracted portrait.
—Is this guy coming here at any specific time?
—Never before nine in the evening —the less audacious confirmed.
Ten to twelve hours apart with China. It made sense. Somehow.
—What about the dessert? —no one wants to give away an easy source of income.
—Another day —I said, and with my most honest face I added—. I’m not longer hungry.
—What is your name? —asked the less bold when I was already leaving.
I left them behind splitting with laughter, and went for a pizza.
The pizza was nothing to call home.
I tried to find a taxi and see the geologist. I found it, the taxi. Also his house with the windows shut and no lights inside. I turned around and crossed the garden behind. I came upon an overturned bike and planks stacked against a wall of what looked like a home workshop. A cat meowing with the tail out at right angle gave me the well-known fright. At that point I decided to return to the hotel and have a well deserved siesta.
After two hours I jumped out of bed, transpiring and confused. It took me a couple of seconds recognize the place where I had awakened. A large spider in a corner of the ceiling was observing me, perhaps because my snoring had incommoded her or because I was her only entertainment.
I was about to take another cold shower when someone knocked the door.
In the “Diula” language in Mali, the term « dugutigui » (chief of the village), literally translated, means: «owner of the village»; «dugu» means village and «tigui», owner. Probably the term is the result of the contraction of «dugu kuntigui» (literally: chief of the village).