The food was excellent, the service obsequiously efficient, and Sr. Camacaro fulsome in his praise of his native land. The young couple really ought to fly over the Angel Falls, or go deep into the jungle up the Orinoco River. Yes, they should take the cable car up to Pico Espejo from Merida: it was an impressive world-class attraction. Even if the Swiss had built it, the scenery was not theirs. Neither was the fabulous wealth of the nation’s petroleo the property of outsiders: in spite of government corruption, los Yanquis did not own the country. As darkness fell with dramatic tropical suddenness, the inspector became reflective and subdued. His tone took on the seriousness of a confession. What he really wanted in life, he said, with a child’s wistfulness, was a Betamax. Local television was no good; he wanted to watch movies on video. He made no reference to the cost or availability of videocassette recorders, then in their infancy, nor did he make any connection between this great lack in his life, and his present unemployed status. To the couple’s polite questions about his personal circumstances, he made only evasive inconclusive answers.
When it came time to pay the bill, Sr. Camacaro insisted on paying in full. He cut short Spenser’s protests. ‘They owe me,’ he repeated. That he was on strike was unaccountably irrelevant. There seemed no limit to his impulsive generosity. As the Tillyards shook hands with him, he looked at Spen.
‘When you go back to Canada, speak well of my country. Say it is a good land, and you met good people there.’ Spen promised, and translated for Sara. Her eyes filled with tears.
He patted her hand in embarrassment.
The motel he found them was clean and well-kept. After a restful sleep, the couple continued the next day to Merida, where they stood in line in the early hours of the morning to catch a ride in a crowded cable car, ascending in stages to fifteen thousand feet, where snow-covered peaks dazzled the unprotected eyes of onlookers. Several days later, descending the Andes mountains, the couple came up behind a slow-moving Land Cruiser with large loudspeakers mounted on its roof. On a short straight stretch of road between switchbacks, Spenser overtook it, and heard an amplified voice call cheerily, ‘Buen viaje, amigo!’ Spen and Sara waved their appreciation to the anonymous well-wisher, silently recalling the Good Samaritan’s words, ‘Say it is a good land, and you met good people there.’