Near Uluru, Australia, June 2001
'And it's gonna be red from the sun?', the Brazilian asks. 'Yes, red. It's a miraculous display during the day. It changes colour like a rainbow. Stunning!', his guide replies. 'Man... it's amazing! I've never seen anything like it.' 'Uluru is the greatest of its kind in the world. No other monolith is bigger. More than half of its total mass is subterranean. It's even internationally acclaimed as a World Heritage Site.' 'Really? Wow! I need to take a couple of shots from this angle. Unbelievable!', he snaps away on his DSLR after slowing his camel down. 'Hey my friend: Why is it that camels walk so slow? I heard they can run very fast & win races, no?' The guide laughs, 'Hahaha!' Shrugging, he says, 'When you know you're so good, you don't have to brag anymore.' The Brazilian laughs, shaking his head. 'Ay, hakuna matata, ehy? This is Australian mentality or Aborigine?' The guide raises his hand, 'Ah, no. Australia is Aborigine. We are all one.', he smiles. The Brazilian looks irritated at his guide, then says, 'But Ayers Rock is the name given by White settlers, no? Aborigines lived here before they came but still, in the world, Uluru is known as Ayers Rock.' The guide smirks, sensing the conversation going political then points at the mountain in front of them. 'Uluru!', he says calmly. 'Ayers Rock! Different name but same mountain. All is one, you see?' The guide pauses & glances at the desert plains briefly. He goes, 'You know, what happened in the past has already happened. We live here before White settlers came but White settlers came to live here, too. One, you see? Guidance of Uluru was given by White man back to Aborigines & Aborigines allowed others administration of Uluru. We're not our past – we are the present. White man, Aborigines, same Australia. Uluru, Ayers Rock, same mountain. All is one, you see?' The Brazilian looks at the guide, deeply pondering. He looks back at Ayers Rock & stays quiet for a while. Then he says, 'You know my friend, the whole world would like to talk to the people who made many decisions in the past... just to ask them why they did so many bad things, you know? This whole current generation, old & young.' The tour guide chuckles. He answers, 'Oh! If that were possible, it would be a very long talk!' Both men share a jovial laughter that erases the irritations from the atmosphere. Amidst lots of dialogue throughout the day, they ride towards the mountain. They spend all day riding around the beautiful natural edifice & stop along the way at breath-taking waterholes & springs. They take lots of photos together & even explore some paintings that date several thousand years back, and a site of rock caves, all part of the attraction. When they totally circle the wonder, they just get far enough from it, to view the whole mountain, glistering in the rays of the evening sun. It's a stunning display of physics at one of its finest, filling them both with deep joy & gratitude to be allowed by nature to have the experience. After making their way back to the motel nearby, together they then have a cheerful dinner. They enjoyed a wonderful day.
Elsewhere, about 30,000 children under the age of 5 years, died from poverty & starvation, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, on that day.
The next morning, the Brazilian packs up his luggage and meets with his guide to have breakfast. They talk about the cultural influences the rock has on the region. 40 minutes later, they catch a bus & make their way to an Aborigine community. They'll be spending a full month there, in which the young Latino will delve deeply into native Australia & make the experiences, he'll have the best memories of, for years to come.
A month passes by & the Brazilian is in his room. Struggling to hold back the tears, he packs his suitcase. He's gotten along so well with his host-community, he's bonded with them. His departure now feels like a part of him being ripped out, ruthlessly. He softly sings a song his guide's children taught him, one passed on through many generations. As he zips closed his suitcase & secures it with a lock, lifts it from the bed, down to the ground, he hears the old man approaching from outside, cheerfully joining him in the spiritual praise. He smiles but still unable to hide the pain from his face. The guide stands in front of him & claps his hands enthusiastically to the rhythm & sings the last verse in undeniable happiness. 'Now you understand the wisdom. This song is thousands of years old, but you sing it. We come from opposite ends of the world but the spirit of an Aborigine is in you. I never been to Brazil, but I see the spirit in you. All is one, my son!', he explains smilingly. The Brazilian smiles back, wiping some tears away. 'Papi, I don't know how to thank you. You have given me more than I'll be able to repay, you know?' The guide shakes his head in modesty. The bag packer continues, 'Let me finish papi... I came to Australia seeking to find something, I didn't know what it was. I was looking for answers. I was angry & confused & I wanted to go somewhere to be alone and think about my life. When I came to the desert, you showed me your beautiful country, your perspective helped me find the answers I was looking for, you know?' The smiling old man nods. 'You know, I've had no father since I was a boy & growing up without him, near the slums of Sao Paulo was tough. It's a very hard life. But it made me who I am. So I cannot hate where I'm from because it's my home. It's always my home. Sao Paulo! But it's hard for a woman to raise a man, no? When I got my scholarship to study in New York, my mother wanted me to travel first & cool down before I start. To calm down... to grow up. I got an agency and found a short-term contract at a factory in East Europe. I decided to work first then come here. Now I have changed my life, I've turned into a man.' He breaks down in tears, fighting to keep them back regardless and says, 'But I never expected to meet a father... and one day in my life know what it is like to have father!' The shaken man, now, just reduces to weeping, dropping his head and covering his eyes. His father-figure reaches his arms up to embrace the 6'3 muscular child, and squeezes him tightly, patting him on the back & holding his head, in turns.
He holds him in front of himself and says, 'Sometimes in life, we meet people for a short time but find out in the end, they were there to teach us something. To show us something beautiful that before we have never seen. They come & go, but don't be sad, because if you understand what they teach, you will know they don't want you to be sad, but be happy when you remember them. Because when you were together, you were happy.' He smiles, now holding the young man by the head, 'Life is never easy. We don't know what will happen wherever we go. But your mother knew you had to take this trip. And what you suffered that you could not say, your journey showed a healing you did not know.' The old man takes his right hand from the boy's cheek & points it in the kid's face, 'Angels meet in strange places. Always keep in your heart that good is watching over you – because angels love talking to strangers. You see?' The Brazilian, now composed, nods & smiles. The men embrace each other again, then move the luggage to the waiting bus, outside. They pack it in, then the guide reaches into his pocket and brings out a precious necklace with a beautiful exotic stone with little symbols engraved on the face.
'This is what our warriors used to protect themselves with. It's to protect you & strengthen you. Wherever you go, nature will find you and protect you!', he tells the Brazilian, who lightly sobs all over again. He ties it around the boy's neck & pats him on the shoulder. The bag packer pulls out his rucksack to the opened door and gets out his wallet. He brings out an entire stash of cash, then takes off his wristwatch – a black titanium-cased, kinetic chronograph with sapphire glass. He says, 'Papi, this money is 500. It was for my insurance here, in case anything happens. It's for you since I go now straight to the airport then fly to New York. I have cab money in my pocket. This wristwatch my boss from the factory gave me, when I left. He said he bought a better one and didn't need it... I think his wife owns a pawn shop, you know?' The guide smiles, chuckling at the innocence of the boy. 'Anyway papi, accept this as my gift of thanks to you, and the wristwatch as something to remember me by.' 'My son, it is this goodness of your heart that will always make you see angels.', he replies as he embraces him one last time. The Brazilian then kisses the guide once on both cheeks then shakes his hand. He enters the bus and they wave each other good-bye as the bus drives off on a journey of several hours to Sydney, via Alice Springs. He'll spend the most of the day travelling through a great country, enjoying the scenery like no other in the world. Towards the end of the drive he would probably be sleeping from exhaustion. By the end of the day nonetheless, roughly 30,000 children under 5 years of age would have died from starvation & poverty worldwide, most of whom are in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.