When we travel to other parts of the world, we like to go where the locals go. Especially for drinks. We sometimes find ourselves in funny situations, like this one time in Rio where a guy asked us to watch his stash.
We went to Rio for my birthday a few years ago. I have written about Rio before and how the culture is so different there that several things threw us off. For example, we could not find a place to buy souvenirs anywhere. We looked and looked. Then we went and laid on the beach and there they were! People were walking around selling stuff. It was a great idea – what do you need a store for when you can go to your customers.
One night we went to listen to some music. I had read about Bip Bip and how the music there is outstanding. I was overwhelmed.
The place is tiny. And ridiculously informal. There are no waiters. You grab a chair and sit in the sidewalk/street area. Want a beer – they are in the fridge in the back. Walk on in and help your self. You let the owner (or his helpers) know you took a beer. They write it down. You pay when you leave. Do not dare try to tip. He got really offended when we wanted to tip.
The musicians play the music inside and a few people can sit in there with them, but why? All of the action is outside. Don’t make too much noise because you are there to listen to the music, but there is plenty to see. Tourists who have no clue what they are doing, lovers on a date, families and even the occasional eccentric person.
So, we were sitting there listening to the music and noticed that this guy, who was wearing a chefs jacket collecting cans. I guess you can get some money for them by recycling. After people finished their beers, he would grab the can from you. No one cared as that meant you didn’t need to get up.
After awhile we noticed he had quite a large bag full of cans. He then started arguing with someone about something. Clearly he needed to be somewhere else. He came over to us and asked us in Portuguese if we would watch his cans.
We speak Spanish but it was clear enough that he wanted us to keep an eye on his stash. So we did. We told people to put their cans in his bag. We told other people to leave the bag alone. The bag became our bag. His cans became our responsibility.
And then we had enough. Ready to go home. But the guy was no where in site. Where did he go? Was he coming back? Did we just think he asked us to watch his cans but he was really, I don’t know, telling us they were ours? Sigh.. now what do we do?
We took the responsibility of watching the cans. How could we just turn our backs on them? Especially now that time was invested in them.
What is the appropriate amount of time when asked to watch something that you can abandon your post?
So we decided. When we finished our final beer, our shift was over. We got up, paid the bill and left.
As we walked back to the hotel, we felt so bad. What if that guy needed his cans? What if..
And then there he was. Standing in front of the restaurant having a smoke. Clearly one of the cooks. We waved. We told him his cans were over there. He didn’t really care.
If you find yourself in Rio, go check out Bip Bip. But do not watch anyone’s cans.
For safety concerns, we did not take our cameras out at night with us in Rio. It might have been okay, but we did not want to risk leaving it anywhere. Instead you can see my photos of the beach!