Sao Tome I

Let’s say I tell you that I have been on a trip, that I fulfilled my purpose this year not to miss the opportunity to see, to know what is beyond… there, behind that sun that you and I have shared so many times, in my sunsets or in your sunrises.
Let’s say that after a lot of doubts about how my «first time» would be, I chose these islands in a totally random way, and there I was, on top, sorry, inside an airplane, flying over an immense amount of desert to reach my destination, Sao Tome and Principe.
Arriving at the airport, with the standards of the only one I knew, the one in Barcelona… well, there I had my first shock, then I saw at the exit, all those who hoped to catch one of us to finish off a day, as I could see later, as something that would allow them to have some more money to take to their homes, although, for the vast majority, to say homes is to give them much more category than here, in Spain, we would give them.
I was afraid, as I told you in my last post…because you see me weird…I was wondering what the hell I was doing here!
But I had help…you gave me encouragement and much more, you gave me the right reasons to share what I felt.
And then I began to realize many things, how lucky I am to have hot water, to have a health center nearby and full of everything you need, the toilet, you can not imagine how I missed being able to sit down and do …. well, that’s it.
I have had, today there has been one of them, and I hope that, until the plane returns me to that chaotic and cold city of feelings on more occasions than I would like to admit, today as I said, I have again acquired more experiences to carry in my personal backpack, that one, that for some time, you are in it.
I want to write down each one of them, I want them to remain in a certain way, in my memory, in these virtual pages, so that I never forget so many and so many life lessons, because as you told me… And living is something more than breathing.
Recently I posted on social networks, I consider myself infected by it, I can not deny it, a photo that, a priori could tell you … how well he is having fun … a plate of two huge crabs and a cold beer!!!… but the story behind, was quite different.
I arrived at the village near noon, I had been walking along the road, until a cab of those who are here a lot, a two-wheeled cab for you to situate you, asked me if I wanted to take me to the next town and well, anyway, the price was more than right and I accepted.
He left me in the middle of the main street, that is, in the only one there is, the rest are usually dirt or stones, depending on the terrain where they have been placed to live here, and well, I saw that the ocean was near and I headed that way.
Understand me, I have always been from the mountains, but at this point in my life, I recognize that seeing the waves hitting high rocks, telling me…come if you have eggs …. is very attractive to me, I like to see how they are not in a hurry, they know that sooner or later, those rocks will give way and they, the waves will continue hitting until the end of the days, without pause, without rest, yes, I recognize that I like to see a rough ocean.
Maybe the fishermen here, if they knew about my tastes, they would take me by my parts and tell me everything, luckily, they are an incredible people, but they are not mind readers, or so I thought, but that will be another story.
Anyway, there I am, after the usual photos, preparing a good pipe, putting on my cap, this sun is terrible, and thinking about…. I don’t know, that’s the thing about coming alone to these places, you don’t have anyone to talk to and believe me, it’s something I’ve appreciated as much as missed on more than one occasion.

I guess I have my eyesight untrained and my ears half deaf, because around me, half a dozen men and women have gathered and they are all looking in the same direction…there is a boat, made of wood, bad wood, nothing like I have ever seen, not even in the movies, but there it is, in the middle of it and rowing with a slow and firm rowing. …his name is Abilio, as I learned later, one of those, as they call them, «elders», grandfathers barely 50 years old, whose face and hands have been marked by life, with a thousand and one scars and wrinkles.
He had left very early, at the same time that all the fishermen of the world leave, wherever they go, and on the way back, let’s say that the ocean had taken a fancy to ruin his day.
I recognize a certain anguish to see how I fought in each wave, how, without hardly noticing tiredness, I paddled and paddled to the safety of the beach, but I was still surprised to see the expressions of those who were next to me, it was not indifference, although at first you might think so, but rather resignation, as if they had accepted, and I think it is so, that there are things that can not control, and have it assumed, accepted, so they were just waiting to see how it all unfolded.
In a last push and after waiting a huge time for me, gave me time to eat three nails, Abilio decided it was time and attacked the, I know they were only meters, but to me it seemed km, the last meters to reach the shelter of the sand.
Those who surrounded me, got ready to talk to him, helped him to pick up his fishing and gear, better not tell you what they consisted of, not only because I have no idea what they are called, but because even I, I know that that was the most simple, used and recycled that could exist on the face of the earth, to fish.
As I said, they helped him to leave the boat on land and while they collected the fruit of their day, they withdrew and left Abilio and me alone on the beach.
I don’t know if he had noticed me, although I tell you that I’m almost 180 tall and more than 100 kg, white beard, white, well, more like red because of the sun, cap, long pants… well, I tell you I don’t look like a local, believe me.
But he emerged from the Bon day almost almost cheerful, greeting me with the energy that I have seen continuously these days, and kept looking at the sea, sorry ocean, I have to place myself that I am in the middle of the Atlantic, and well, his gesture was not very reassuring, let’s say that even I saw that he was worried.
His gaze kept going towards the houses that could be seen, there, a few hundred meters away, as if he wanted them to show up for something that I had no idea what it would be.
Why did I go down to it?
Leaving my backpack higher than the rocks, the camera hanging down, my cell phone out of its case… I went down with him.
I still remember how he looked at me… I know he was saying something I didn’t understand, but I understood that his gaze was rising up to those rocks, and there I understood that he wanted to take the boat up to where he thought it would be safer with that sea, excuse me, the ocean.
He took the boat on one side, I on the other, gritted my teeth and up we went!
Let’s see…they are made of wood that I wouldn’t even want to use for the fire, but you can’t imagine how heavy it was, and so there we were, he, I guess in one of those Portuguese languages that are spoken here, and me, mainly reneging in Spanish, sharing insults and so on.
We had already reached the foot of the rocks and although he was calmer, part of his gaze was directed towards the waves and then upwards, as if saying to himself…it’s the best you can do, I guess I accept, with that resignation born of a daily life fighting with the elements at every instant, that I couldn’t do any better.
But of course, and I anticipate what you will tell me, I had no fucking idea about the elements, and I’m still a bastard unaware of my capabilities, so I just looked at it, looked at the waves, looked at where the most accessible rocks were and approached one end of the boat.
To tell you that I lifted it until the end touched the top would be to describe in a very summarized and exact way what happened, although, well, for that, there were Abilio’s shouts of astonishment…atenção, atenção…after placing the first end on top, I just looked at him and, as in the Indian movies, in this extensive mastery I have of languages, I pointed to the bottom and, well, he understood that I was crazy, because you can’t see how he was shaking his head.

I’m not going to tell you how I ended up sweating, but the fucking fucking boat was on top.
Abilio smiled at me, extended his hand and squeezed it in such a way that I thought I would only have stiffness in my back and knee, compared to what my hand would look like.
He went into a long speech that I only half understood, grabbed me by the arm and took me to his house.
His wife, whose name I don’t remember, just listened to what he was telling her, while he pointed at me and, if I understood it, he called me…grande forte velho turista…something like the big strong tourist and, fuck, that pissed me off, man, although for them, it’s a trait of honorability.
Fuck, how that lady looked at me, and while they were talking to each other, I took out a tablecloth, put it on the table, two beers that tasted like glory and a chair, in which I understood that I was invited to eat with them, and yes, I know, the right thing would be to tell these people that it was not so bad, that it was just the result of an outburst, for which, you yourself, you know that it is usual in me, but you know, that lady was scary.
How to take her against her!
It was an incredible meal, with a lot of people curious to see who was the madman who had taken the boat up there, a lot of handshakes, a lot of winks at my white beard, and the curious laughter of some of their neighbors who came to see me.
I don’t remember when was the last time I ate these huge crabs, spider crabs or crabs are called here in Spain, it is not a dish of my taste, seafood, but believe me, I never think I could eat something with more good taste, accompanied by banana bread, an imitation of the bread we all know, beer of the time, but above all, accompanied by all of them.
You know?
I felt happy.

*** Translated with (free version) ***

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