I won’t bore you with longwinded descriptions of the magnificent view from Sugarloaf Mountains, or even the cute monkeys or sloths that I saw, or how taken I was by Christ the Redeemer. I’ll just say that the statue of Christ was a difficult tourist attraction to navigate. There was all the usual tourists taking selfies and so on of course, with the notable difference that these tourists were mimicing the outstretched arms of Christ. If Carina had been with me, I, too, would have stood there on the staircase preventing anyone from coming or going. As it was, Paul was satisfied with taking a photo of me just looking up at the statue.
Which brings me to Paul, a charming gentleman who kindly proposed to me before lunch. “Do you speak English? Good! Stay close to me. We’re going to be together all day”, he said on our way up to see Christ. He’s name was Paul, or, as the guide called him, “Mister Paul” (“Mister Paul! Mister Paul! I’ve found you the perfect seat”), and usually he prefered cruises. He tried to go on at least two a year. Rio was more of a bonus trip. His wife died five years ago, and his daughters think he’s getting too old to travel so much, but he doesn’t agree. His helicoptre trip is booked for Friday.
I had wandered around the Christ statue for some time when he found me again. “I’ve been looking for you”, he said, perhaps a tad reproachfully. “I was going to offer to take your picture.” Which he did, and then I returned the favour, as soon as I had figured out how his camera worked. He had a real, digital one, and he kindly offered to send me a usb-memory with the photos he planned to take in Rio. He made a video after all his trips, and if I “had a new telly, you could watch the photos there.” Usually he added music as well.
It was while we were regrouping over coffee (I made the mistake again of ordering it with milk, but Paul kindly stated that he liked it. “It’s not coffee, mind you, but it’s quite good”) that he proposed. The conversation went something like this:
Mister Paul: “Are you married?”
Him: “But you will be?”
Me: “Who knows? I guess it depends on wheterh or not I meet the right person.”
Him: “You’ve met me! And I’m free!”
He also kindly forgave me for visiting Ireland several years ago without seeing him. After all, I could always come back. “You know what I’ve been thinking?” he said at the end of the trip. “Instead of us just meeting like this in Rio, we could go somewehere together! You don’t even have to come to Ireland. It could be anywhere!” Personally he prefered cruises, since they took care of everything so you didn’t have to worry about your flight or luggage or anything really. “Harrow-free, I call them.” But he was quite prepared to be flexible.
So now we’re having a beer together tomorrow at Copacabana beach. He works fast, does Paul.