Page 27 of An Amazon Affair

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“Yes, of course.”

“Obrigado,” I tell him.

“You are welcome, mysterious Yara.”


In the vast fresh waterarchipelagos of Anavilhanas, we see alligators, a Giant Otter, manatee and more Pink Dolphins, who leap gleefully in our wake. They look drunk with joy at the waves and bubbles offered up by the motor.

Tipsy dolphins, I think, grinning to myself.What must it be like to love life that much? To revel in its bounty so fully?

Under the bright Brazilian sun, it’s a beautiful day, and I begin to feel it in my bones—in the relaxed pace of life, in the glory of nature, in the beat of a samba mix that Rio plays over the boat’s speakers—that Brazil is, orcould be, more to me than just the country where my father was born. I am, and will always be, American, of course. But half of me is Brazilian, isAmazonian, and for the first time in my life, I’m aware of that heritage; mine by birth and by blood. I could have lived an entire life without realizing that this beautiful place is a part of me, and I can’t help but feel that life would have been poorer for it.

It’s past noon by the time we reach Juruá, where we’re escorted to a small, green and purple restaurant in the middle of a tiny village. The owners have set up a colorful table for two dozen passengers and guides on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, and fuss over us in Portuguese, offering us cans of ice-cold Coca Cola and urging us to sit down. It smells of bar-be-qued meats and fried dough, and my mouth waters as trays of food start appearing on the table. But we only have an hour in Juruá, and my priority is a visit to the hospital that my father’s foundation aided over the last thirty years.

My eyes find Rio and I watch as he approaches an older lady, kissing her on both cheeks before speaking to her in quick, lyric Portuguese. He looks at me over his shoulder, and her eyes follow, widening with her grin. She races into the restaurant in a flurry and returns a second later with a white paper sack, which she thrusts into his hands with a wink and giggle. He kisses her again before waving to Lucas, gesturing to me, then joining me at the periphery of the group.

“What was all of that?”

“Maria insisted we take somepao de queijo... uh, cheese bread,” he says, holding up the bag. “Lunch on the go.”

“Uh-huh. But how come she winked at you?”

He puts his hand on the small of my back, leading me away. “I may have had to tell her that I had a crush on you and wanted you to myself for an hour. I didn’t know how else to get out of lunch. She takes a lot of pride in her food.”

“So... she thinks we’re having some kind of clandestine relationship?”

“I don’t know that word...clandest...”

“Clandestine,” I say. “It means secret. Elicit.”

“Ah,” he says, raising his eyebrows. “Clandestino.”

“Not that we are.”

“Of course not,” he says, dropping his hand from my back. He opens the bag as we turn a corner. “Try the bread. It’s sweet. She made it with guava.”

I reach inside for a warm, round roll. Taking a big bite, I’m surprised by the mix of flavors: bread, salt, cheese... and fruit.

“Oh, my God,” I moan. “What is this? You—you said guava? Oh, my God. It’s so... good.”

After a second, I realize he’s not walking next to me anymore, and stop in my tracks, turning around to look at him. His eyes are wide. His face looks irritated.

“Yara. Don’t make that sound again, please...unless...”

He catches himself, dragging his lower lip between his teeth and biting.

“Unless what?” I ask, popping one of my fingers into my mouth to suck off the guava remnants. I take a step toward him, offering him the glistening digit. “Taste.”

He parts his lips for me and swirls his tongue around my finger, his eyes darkening as they hold mine captive.

“Delicious,” he groans.

“I told you,” I whisper, pulling my hand away.

“Tonight,” he growls, his tone low and definitive.


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