Monday. Jorge and Anselmo are working on their own, Catarino and Rigo being at the memorial.
I make a couple of runs to the house throughout the day and each time I notice that The-Neighbor-Who-Took-My-2000- Pesos is working on something on one of the river beds. Lifting big stones, using a crowbar... something. Always with a machete.
Because of our latest interaction, we now say hello when we pass each other and that's nice. Right? Yeah, I would say it's nice. Eases the tension a bit, even though there is something slightly odd about being waved at with a machete.
Now that I think about it, a friend here told me a while back: "that 2000 pesos was your tax for being there. He won't bother you again." Maybe she's right.
By late afternoon, as I get ready to traverse the last river bed for the last time that day, I notice how very. very smooth the ground is. No more rocks, all sand, like a tiny beach. While I am not sure what this will look like when the rain comes (or really any of this), it sure is nice, and can feel Mitsu's tires smiling a bit.
I also notice a huge excavator cleaning what looks like the last of a big job of moving rocks.
I love the excavator.
I slow down, and tell my neighbor - I am going to find out his name, gosh darn it - how nice this is. He agrees. He says that it has something to do with the petition he had me sign earlier, something about the company that is using "our" roads to build the highway, maybe. He seems pleased and I am pretty sure he has been working on this all day, a task which probably has kept him from his shop and making money. Oh, did I mention that he is a barber? He is. He either owns or works at a little shop nearby. Which tells me that he has a propensity for sharp objects.
And then ... wait for it ... the whole thing suddenly turns into the softest yet no doubt real ... toll situation.
Even though I do not understand all of his words, I am keenly aware that I am being asked for money. For beer. For the guy in the excavator. Whom, he tells me, has been working for free. Which, I tell you, I am not sure that is the case.
But then again, I am not sure of much, particularly I am more and more unsure of ever being told the full truth. Hmm ... maybe a 65% average truth?
So, money. He is clearly asking me for money.
And I actually hand him the only money I have on me, a 50 pesos bill, which he accepts. Shocked that I gave this man a peso, let alone fifty, I manage to say before I leave: "please be sure he gets it," and decide that because I said that, I had the last word and I am in integrity, full of boundaries, in other words: in charge.
Shaking my head, I head back to the cabin, somehow amused and humbled by yet another surprise.
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