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My Ego Speak Portuguese Someday
by Christopher Allen

I’ve stayed in just about every form of accommodation, from pup tent to penthouse; and it’s been my experience that the bed in a simple pensione can be as comfortable as the bed in a four-star hotel. I don’t need luxury—just a peaceful place to rest my weary head.

Enter Paraty, a Portuguese colonial town 236 kilometers south of Rio de Janeiro. It’s known for being, well, colonial. My travelling companion, Horst, and I were getting bored in Rio, so “colonial” crackled with excitement.

We’d been in Rio for a week, thus my Portuguese was stellar. I’d haggled with vendors on the Copacabana, I’d rented bikes, and I’d even ordered my caipirinhas after I couldn’t feel my tipsy lips to articulate my perfect Portuguese. Essentially, I was ready for anything . . . and a little drunk.

Just outside the old town of Paraty, we found a perfectly acceptable hotel, and I asked the nice lady at the desk if she had a room. She seemed reluctant but showed us one anyway.

“We’ll take it,” I said. It met all of my (one) criteria: bed for weary head.

“Blah blah blah blah,” she said. Translation: Sir, there’s going to be a Brazilian country music party outside your bedroom tonight. Are you a fan?

I looked at Horst; Horst looked at me, expecting me—with my stellar Portuguese—to understand her. My ego wanted so badly to comprende, so I looked back at the troubled woman and said, “We’ll take it.”

“Blah blah blah blah—” she rattled on. Translation: Please try to understand, Mr. Ego: The party will last well until the morning, and—

“But the room is fine,” I said. “It looks clean to me. Horst?” If it’s clean enough for Horst, it’s clean enough for anyone.

“Blah blah blah blah!” she pleaded. Translation: Sir, obviously you’ve never heard this band. All their songs sound the same, and the woman who’s going to sing tonight is pitchy to say the least. Did you say you were a fan?

“What the hell is she saying?” Horst demanded.

“She’s saying they haven’t had time to clean the room, and she’s so embarrassed to offer us this one,” my ego said.

“We’ll take the room,” Horst said in his Germanic-authority voice.

“Blah blah BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! blah, blah,” she shouted at Horst, handing him the key to the room. Translation: OK, you silly white boys, I warned you. You want to try to sleep with this torture blasting through your room like a hurricane until five in the morning? Be. My. Guest. You’ll be praying for the Angel of Death around three o’clock.

“She’s in a mood,” I said. “I hope there’s music in the village tonight.”

“Yes,” Horst said. “I want to stay up late . . . maybe until 12:00.”

At five o’clock in the morning when the thunder finally stopped, I rolled over to Horst and whispered, “I guess the problem wasn’t cleanliness, after all.”

“No,” he said, “I suppose not. Do you speak Portuguese?”

“Noooooo,” I said. “But my Spanish is muy good-o.”

“Shut up.”

“The music is kind of catchy when you imagine someone singing on pitch and a few million decibels softer.”

“Shhhh. Shhhh.”