Keith Irwin


Apr 23, 2014

Brazil, Hitchhiking, Travel, Latin America 2014

This is part of my story of hitchhiking from New York to Buenos Aires and back, which I did in 2014. I may publish the entire tale in a book someday. Until then, you can read it for free here. To see other parts, check out Latin America 2014. 

April 23

The next day, I saw a massive herd of stampeding up the road. The driver slowed by the side of the road, but when he realized how big the herd was, he had to come to a complete stop to avoid running them over. The herd was massive, with hundreds of cows filling the road like a river for a few minutes. Behind them, three cowboys on horseback drove the stampede. 

A photo of the head of a stampede of cows
The stampede
A photo of a stampede of cows
A photo of the back of a stampede of cows and three cowboys on horseback

I arrived in Marabá that afternoon.  My host agreed to meet me in a mall when she was done with classes. I got a tray of food at the food court and was invited to sit with some soldiers who were in Marabá for war games. There was a large jungle warfare training ground there, they explained. 

My host, when I met her, showed me the city a little, because it was still early afternoon. Marabá is on the fork of two rivers, the larger being the Tocantins. We walked along the riverbank. The water level was very high, due to the heavy rains this season. 

We walked through a square and stopped at two restaurants. At the first, we split a bowl of Tacacá, a native soup with thin, dark green leaves. I was told that the leaves “make your tongue funny”. Indeed, they gave my mouth a tingly numbing sensation. At the second restaurant, we got a bowl of açaí. Açaí is a berry which supposed to be very healthy and rich in antioxidants. It is often served here in the form of ice cream, and that's how we ate it. 

April 24 – 28

I stayed in Marabá for several days. One day, I went to meet her friend, who taught at an English school. He pulled me into his classroom and put me in front of a class of about fifteen students of various ages. He introduced me as a native speaker and left me speechless in front of the room. I had no idea what to say, so I just stood there stupidly for a few minutes until I was relieved of duty. In hindsight, I should have started a lesson on curses. 

Another day, I came with my host to tutor a couple one-on-one. One of our students was decent at English, but the other had trouble following along. We had a map of the United States, and I told about our geography and culture, using simple English. Afterwards, my host split her earnings with me, for helping. 

My host was a spiritist, and on the last night, we all went to a fair. There was a sort of competition of traditional dancing. I got the chance to prove that I couldn't dance for my life. My host and I left the group to walk along the river a last time. 

A photo of several boats in a river
A photo of a girl in front of a river
My host in front of the river
A photo of a group of people
Our group, with me on the left

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