He watched them approach through half-closed eyes and as they crept up on him they moved apart. He was about to spring up and brandish his knife when a sound from just beyond the van caused the two men to whirl about. He sat up and watched as a young man walked calmly toward the two that had been approaching him.
He could see they were frightened by the newest arrival and the boy spoke to them calmly in Mayan. They seemed to curse him as they struck defiant poses but the boy reached inside his shirt and brought out some sort of amulet and brandished it at them. They beat a hasty retreat, disappearing into the night.
The boy turned his attention to Sam and motioned for him to stand. Sam let go of the knife and stood up. The boy walked over to him and looked him up and down and then looked the van over.
“Yes. I’m just…travelling.”
The boy nodded and then shook his head. “It is not safe to camp out alone in these parts. Bandits.” He pointed in the direction the two men had fled. “They will cut your throat for anything you have,” he stated matter-of-factly and turned to scan the road for any sign of approach.
Sam was shaking even though he felt he was now safe. “Thank you. Tell me, how did you make them go away?”
The boy shrugged. “They are afraid of me. My grandfather is…a powerful man.”
Sam sat down on his sleeping bag and stared at the boy. The boy sat down in the dirt a few feet away and favoured him with a smile.
“You cannot stay here. They might come back. You can stay at my place; it’s not far. Come, we will drive.”
With that he got up and walked around to the passenger side of the van and got in. Sam was bemused by the abruptness with which matters had been decided and rolled up his sleeping bag and threw it in the van, then got in and started driving in the direction the boy indicated. As they drove the boy introduced himself.
“My name is Yochi. What’s yours?”
A couple of miles along a rutted dirt road lined with wooden shacks with thatched roofs the boy told him to slow down. Soon they came to a somewhat larger place just off the road with pigs and goats in the yard. The boy told him to pull in and park.
They got out and the boy led him to the front door and took off his shoes and motioned for Sam to do the same. They went inside and Sam’s nose was met with wonderful cooking smells. He detected beans, pork and fresh tortillas. The boy noticed the look on his face.
“Come, have some food. My sister is a good cook.”
They went into the kitchen where a young woman in traditional dress was stirring a pot of beans on a wood-fired stove. She glanced at Sam and nodded. The boy told him to sit.
“Thanks Yochi. What’s your sister’s name?”
At the mention of her name she looked over her shoulder.
She gave him a shy smile and began filling two plates with food. Yochi said something to her in Mayan as she served them and she left the room.
“She doesn’t speak much English and she is shy.”
They ate in silence. Sam couldn’t believe how wonderful it all tasted. When they were done Yochi showed him to a room where he could spend the night. As he turned to leave he told Sam that in the morning he could meet their grandfather.
“He will want to talk to you Sam.”
Sam thought about that for a long time before he drifted off.
Part 4 Tomorrow