He was friendly… Too friendly.
Wandering the town of Sábalos I met quite a few people, from shopkeepers to a trio of giggling schoolgirls wanting me to take their photo. This town is familiar with tourists, quite a few travel the Río San Juan. Most would come through Sábalos on their way downriver.
I chatted for a while with a local guide, he was checking to see if I needed his services and spoke excellent English. He runs tours downriver to El Castillo and the biological preserves. Anything to make a living in the new Nicaragua he explains, alluding to the troubled past.
The docks are the focal point of the whole town. Nearly everyone passes through these docks, arriving on the river taxis that are the primary method of travel. As I complete my tour of town I head back to the docks. One fellow approaches me, says hola and shakes my hand. He asks me where I am from and where I am going, very friendly.
The camera was in my hand, my wallet tucked away in a deep zippered pocket. We talked for a moment, as best we could with my smattering of Spanish and his few words in English. Some other folks on the dock give me a knowing smile, they obviously knew his habits. Perhaps he was a bit drunk, maybe he was just a go-lucky sort of fellow, I expect he is harmless.
There is not much I can say, having exhausted the few words we shared in either language. I bid him goodbye and head for the little ferry to take me to the other side of the river and back to the hotel.
Still, our encounter stands out in my memory. Travel is like that, you meet people, you see another part of the world where life is much different. I wonder what his life story is, at least I have a good photo…