patricia would always look at me like this.  i was a mystery to her:  i wasn't selling anything; i didn’t have wife or child; i spoke strangely.  she would come anyway, sit next to me and talk.  her family were merchants and so she mostly wanted to know what everything i owned had cost and then if she could ride judas.  she agreed with many that my only redeeming quality was a donkey.  her gypsy family, like me, lived in tents and was seminomadic.

the leaf cutter ants were intimidating.  the biggest looked like they had muscles: their rounded head and body bulging fire engine red.  they would cut beautiful, almost perfect circles in my tent.  some the size of my fist, some the size of my head.  at least those nights they weren't biting me.  even so it was hard to sleep when their pheromone paths ran over the top of me.  when they swarmed or were driven out by the rains judas would go stand in the water.  i had little choice but to try and move camp.  thankfully, like some ants we encountered, they didnt have wasp sting tails.

a little boy of ten, tattooed and shirtless, stopped me outside this government housing project in southern brazil to ask about judas.  my portuguese was pretty bad but it didn't matter; he was happy just to see the animal in close quarters and stretch up to touch his withers.  having been robbed twice in brazil i was definitely nervous.  there are some places you just shouldn't go even if you have a donkey to break the ice.

there is no way i could, in a few lines, describe what it was like to say goodbye to my friend.  i had to carry my things again and the people didn’t approach me as much.  for a long time i couldn’t sleep well not hearing the grass tearing around my head.  he would stand guard in the night and nothing approached me without him warning me.  on several occasions he had saved my life and i often felt naked without him.  but that wasn’t why i missed him.  those things just reminded me he was gone.  in the end i was just thankful for the years i did have with him and all the things and places and people i met because of him.

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