Part 38

Santarém and the docks rose up out of the dark at us, city lights washing over us, being swallowed up by the now swelling river.

We agreed to find the nearest not-quite-dingiest-hotel for the night before figuring out what to do the next day. The warm rain and steamy aftereffects had subsided, leaving a slick, streetlight-reflected, puddle-strewn sort of night, which I felt like staying up forever in, despite walking like there were bricks tied to my woebegone boots.

The next morning I told Graham he could have time to do what he needed to do. He suggested he come with me to the bank and beyond, though I suggested he could trust me to get him his per diem.

Três on the other hand, well, I needed to pay her out, but she also needed something else. I told her to book herself a flight home with my card. We could go later that afternoon. She said she was coming with me in case I said the wrong thing or went the wrong place, and since I could barely will myself out of bed, I let her come.

After a frantic taxi ride and interminable line at the bank (I guess it was a Friday), we had a short dinner (where I was never happier to suck back two and a half Brahmas, macrobrew be damned), and we left off to search for any half-decent internet cafés. Três was looking like her old self again, but talking very little.

Our madcap driver deposited us at the top of a hill next to a smokey, darkened worn-down hall with a darkened neon sign shaped like a computer monitor. Something next door caught my eye and I asked Três to meet me inside. A minute later, I had something that I was sure would be a fine parting gift.

Having most of the afternoon, I made a shopping list. Usually my lists spiral out of control with wished-fors and nice-to-haves, and I tried to hold myself to anything I could carry in the two bags that had miraculously survived this far. SD Cards. Chargers and adapters. Disposable phones with minutes. Calling Cards for emergencies. Other, negligible things like dry food and soap.

While we sat, basking in the glow of near-infinite information and questioning our (my) place in it, I pared down what I would need for Argentina. It was nearing summer out here, which I kept forgetting was winter back home. Having no idea what it would be like down in Buenos or Trelew, I reminded myself that I could end up in the Andes, and planned for cold as well as beating sun.

Meanwhile, Três stuck to her duty and spent most of the time engaging in what we lovingly nowadays call ‘internet detectiving.’ Amateur sleuthing aside, she had found out several things about our Ava and almost nothing about Wilson. I leaned over, elbow strained, and nosed into what she was doing. What we found out was this: