I stood at the petrol station proudly waving my “Lisboa” sign.
The winter sun was shining,
And Leonardo, my Couch Surfing host, had just driven away.
Streams of cars sped by;
Some smiled, some shrugged, most pretended not to notice.
Finally, a car stopped.
He tried to tell me that I was going the wrong way and that I needed to be on the other side of the road. I smiled and made as to go, but he offered to drive me there.
“Giovanni” he smiled as I shook his hand.
He crossed town…
I knew he lived only a few miles away, so I assumed he was going to drop me off at the other highway.
He was a nomad too – I established through charades, google translate, and portanolglish – a truck driver.
After 12 to 15 days on the road, he has 48 hours at home.
He’d come to Portugal on a music tour in 2002 and never left.
The Brazilian chanted the names of the upcoming towns and I smiled remembering cycling through them only 16 months earlier.
It’s a lot faster in a car!
“But where will you drop me? I don’t want you to go out of your way!”
He told me it was Sunday. The day for “walking”. And he wanted to take a “walk.”
We stopped for lunch, followed the coast to his favourite spots, and watched the sun sink into the Atlantic.
“I really will be okay!” I tried to assure the friendly giant-heart!
He had to work in the morning and he really shouldn’t be driving on his day off!
When I arrived, he would only be halfway!
But there was no fighting it, he had already decided to take me all the way to my destination.
I tried to pay for the tolls, but he laughed and said “Uber Black, full service.”
I wondered if maybe this was some sort of taxi, people couldn’t really be this generous, could they?
We passed Lisboa. The road turned to dirt. Still, he continued. And smiled. And sang.
And then we arrived. In the middle of nowhere. A place most normal people wouldn’t dare to drive. Especially not simply to drop off a stranger.
After six hours of driving, there wasn’t even a house visible!
I hugged my friendly driver goodbye, assured him I really had a friend living there and was not just camping, took a selfie, and he set off back to Aveiro – over 300km to the North.
“Thank you so very much for the wonderful day! I am still so amazed that people can be so kind. I hope that your generosity is multiplied back to you and that your journey home is safe and comfortable! Thank you for changing my life.” I sent through to him later.
He replied almost immediately:
“Thank you for the trust you had in me. May your journey be light, and with many victories.”