Monday, December 19

Another kind of beer

One late night in the boonies in a Third World country an American woman showed up. She had been pushed to her limit by the rigors of travel in a land that was completely foreign to her. Then she couldn't get a room and was told she'd have to wait for hours to find out if one could be found. She broke into sobs and blurted that she wished she'd never made the journey.

I happened to be stting in what passed for the lobby and hearing all this. I slapped my hands on my knees, stood up and announced matter-of-factly, "I don't know about you but I'm going out for a beer."

The woman whirled to look at the stranger who spoke English. She choked through her sobs, "A beer? There's beer in this place?"

I grinned at her. "Want to come along?"

"Oh yes!" she cried in relief. "A beer! I would die for a beer right now!" She glanced at her suitcases.

"They'll be okay," I said.

I led her out into the night. A few minutes of walking through the dusty roads of the village. She asked my name and told me hers. As we walked she talked about why she had made the journey and how much she regretted it.

"I'm turning right around and going back to the US as soon as I get some sleep and find transportation."

I led her through the silent streets of the village bedded down for the night. She looked around eagerly and asked, "Where's the bar?"

I pointed ahead. On reaching the open countryside she stopped, looked around and said ruefully, "There is no bar, is there? No beer."

"The bar is right here," I smiled, and added, "Look up."

She looked up, then plunked down on the ground in awe and stared.

In that region there were no electric lights for many, many miles at night. We sat in silence watching the sky so close in the pristine air it seemed with small effort one could touch the heaven's starry tapestry.

Then we chatted about nothing in particular, as if we were sitting in a bar after work.

By the time we returned to the village a room had been found for her, but she knew by then that she could have bunked with me if no room materialized.

I saw her a few days later. "Still here, huh?"

She grinned. "Thanks for the company -- and the beer."

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