I gazed up to see a well-built young man dressed in the pristine white garb of an indigenous tribesman. He hailed from the remote territory of the Sierra Nevada. As a resident of this imposing and secluded mountain territory, he was, culturally and geographically, a long way from home.
He surveyed me – sprawled and discombobulated on the bed of the studio flat – with a look of proud disdain. With his arms still crossed, he nodded gravely in response to my hesitant greeting. He gave a terse grunt as if instructing a minion to cull a surplus citizen.
Angie interrupted the tense male stand-off.
‘Look who I found in the marketplace!’ she enthused, as if offering an explanation making some modicum of sense. I waited for more.
‘He has come to seek justice for his tribe. I said that we can help him.’
I sought further clarification with my face. Too little meaning had yet assembled in my receptors for a reasoned verbal response.
‘I thought that we could organise an international conference to bring the world’s attention to their situation,’ she clarified, somewhat.
The large tribesman continued to observe me coolly while delving into a large leather pouch for a large lump of resin with which he mixed the coca leaves he kept in a separate pocket. He appeared to have made the 1,500km round-trip without any other possessions.
I pulled the sheet up to cover my nakedness, while he chewed impassively. I processed the only thoughts currently available to my mind into words.
‘I am watching my country play Portugal in the World Cup,’ I explained, in case it wasn’t clear.
‘I am for Portugal,’ he returned dully.
‘Oh,’ I parried, quick as lightening.
He remained standing behind me for the duration of the match.
On principle, I waited until half-time before changing into my day-wear – shuffling off to the bathroom with my sheet worn like a toga to protect my diminished dignity.
Until Portugal won on penalties, his brooding visage offered no trace of emotion. The result cracked a small hint of a smile on his granite features.
He left soon after.
We didn’t organise a conference.