This page was first published on the 29th of June, 2016 and last updated on the 29th of June, 2016 by Patrick Carpen.
When we arrived at the Mall, Micaella said she needed to get some money. I had no idea how this worked but I saw three ATMs outside of a room enclosed by glass walls. There were about 12 people sitting inside the room, awaiting their turn to go to the counter. Micaella went into the room and came back out. She told me that the line was too long and that we should go to another mall. “Don’t worry” she said. “The other mall is beautiful too.” We drove around the city once again, up hills and down and arrived once more at another Parking Lot. It was the parking lot, Micaella told me, of Manaus’ second biggest shopping mall.
We got out and walked into the Mall. After about 20 meters, Micaella stopped in front of a Western Union Office. There were two people inside. She indicated to me that she was going to get some money and I could go for a little walk and come back.
I walked around the corner and checked out the prices of some clothes. They were much more expensive than in Lethem. And so were the shoes. At that point I thought to myself that I certainly would not be buying any apparel here to take to Lethem!
I checked out a few more items and then headed back to the Western Union Office. Micaella wasn’t there. I looked down the hall and up the hall, to the left and to the right, but Micaella was nowhere to be seen. I walked back around the path I had first taken. Perhaps Micaella went searching for me? She wasn’t there. I walked round another corner and came back to the Western Union office. Still no trace of Micaella.
At this point my heart-rate increased a bit. I went to one of the Security Patrols around the Mall. I tried to explain my situation to him, but he seemed to have been suffering from both a hearing and an understanding problem. I walked away in frustration. I walked around the mall a little more, hoping to find Micaella.
After not seeing her, I decided it would be best to head for the car. Perhaps she might be there waiting for me. I walked out of the Mall and into the Parking Lot. The Parking Lot was so vast, I had no idea where we parked. All I knew was that Micaella’s car was silver and had a “Belo Horizonate” number plate. I only remembered three letters on the number plate: HIK. I also remembered that the front fender of Micaella’s car had a small protrusion, perhaps from an impact. Using these clues, I started to look around the parking lot. I couldn’t find Micaella’s car. Did she, perhaps, drive away and leave me here?
Just then I spotted a sliver car. It was the same Model as Micaella’s car, and the number plate carried the letter’s HIK. But on the number plate was written the word “Fortaleza”, not “Belo Horizante”.
I walked around the car. I noticed that the front fender also had a protrusion similar to that of Micaella’s car. Did I perhaps make a mistake? Did I confuse in my mind “Belo Horizante” with “Fortaleza”? Could this indeed be Micaella’s car? I tried peering into the front window to see if I could notice the umbrella we had left on the front seat. This would definitely confirm in my mind that I was at the right car. But it was difficult to see inside the car. I tried peering again and again, from all angles, but I couldn’t see any umbrella. I saw an envelope on the seat. “Nah, this couldn’t be the car”, I thought as I walked away.
I headed back to the mall. I noticed that my activities in the parking lot had attracted some attention. The security personnel at the door was looking at me intently. As I approached the door, he asked me if I needed something. I asked him if he could kindly direct me to an internet cafe. “Go straight and then turn left,” he replied.
I walked straight, turned left and asked around a few more times until I arrived at an internet cafe. There I logged on to Facebook, scrolled through my Facebook messages with Micaella, and found her phone number which she had sent to me via a Facebook text message. I also took the opportunity to check and respond to some of my Yahoo Emails. Then I logged out of all accounts, paid the man at the counter and left.
But as I walked away, my mind started to wander. Did Micaella plan to bring me to this Mall and get rid of me? She told me to go for a quick walk and when I came back, she wasn’t there. I had only spent five minutes. But what was more alarming was the office at which she stopped. It was a Western Union office. She had told me that she was running short of money and needed to withdraw some from her bank account. So why stop at a Western Union office? Everybody, including me, knows that Western Union is a place where you go to send or receive money sent to you. She never indicated that she needed go send or receive money.
Bit by bit, I started to panic. Was this going to be the culmination of my initially wonderful trip to Brazil? And did Micaella had it in her mind to do this heinous act to me? What was the point of all the wonderful things that she and her her family had done for me so far? It just didn’t add up. Thank God, I thought, I had my passport in my pocket, and some money. Besides, what was the worst that could happen in a situation like this?
All I had to do was ask for some help, get a taxi and tell them to take me to “Cidade Nova”. Once in Cidade Nova, I could use landmarks and ask directions until I found Micaella’s mom’s home. The situation then, wasn’t such a a perilious one. If anything, it was a mysterious one.
Besides, I now have Micaella’s number. I was going to ask some nice person to assist me in calling her. But as I rounded the corner of the Western Union office once more, I ran straight into Micaella, coming in my direction.
“Patrick!” she exclaimed. “Oh my gosh! Where did you go?
I then noticed her turn to the security officer text to her and whispered something like, “Thank you, I found him”. The security officer smiled and we walked away.
“Patrickie, I will kill you!” Micaella said as she cuffed me playfully on my shoulder. “I was scared, she continued. “I said to myself ‘Patrikie has died””.
I started to laugh, as I often do when Brazilians attempt to speak English. But Micaella laughs ten times more when I speak either English or Portuguese. She would say as she laughs “Patrikie, your speaking is so funny.”