My sister was in Brazil during her twenty-third birthday. I had not idea what to get her as a present. Carrying everything on my back meant that I bought nothing non-disposable during my trip. I would occasionally buy new sandals as the old ones were stolen or lost. And I carried a protective necklace made in the Amazon jungle. I’d stopped wearing it. I felt it brought me protection in the jungle and nothing but bad luck outside.
One idea for a present was to go surfing with her and her boyfriend. That didn’t work out. I had even trouble finding surfing boards to rent for just myself. They happy couple planned a trip from Rio to Floripa*. Their suggestion was that I store their suitcase, so that they didn’t have to pay to add it to their flight or for storage in Rio.
I agreed. I told the hostel manager. I debated between lying and saying it was mine, but settled on the more complicated route of honesty. She wasn’t happy.
“You can’t do that, it’s not a storage facility.”
She was right. Hostels already tend to lack space. Adding a big bag was poor etiquette. Somehow I convinced her it would be all right. We wouldn’t mind if it got stolen. Or we would mind, but wouldn’t complain. She took pity on me. My sister and boyfriend arrived and soon she was chatting away with the hostel manager about where to get the best oysters on the island. We stored the suitcase for several days without incident. The manager left. Moved back to Floripa. None of us ever saw her again.