This beautiful vintage car was spotted before I entered a restaurant in downtown Belo Horizonte on a Sunday afternoon. I quickly recognized the Jaguar logo over the bonnet, perhaps from the 50s. The car is very well maintained and looks original. The details are just amazing; front grill, rims, steering wheel and a suitcase tied on the back telling you that it’s ready for a trip or picnic.
After taking some shots, I saw a middle-aged man waving at me. He was sitting on a table outside the restaurant with some other men. Dressing in casual-black which seemed too hot for a bright summer day, he yelled something to me in Portuguese. I guessed, he said that I was taking picture of his car without his consent. I smelled trouble, but instantly walked toward him and chanted the most polite apology I can think of in Portuguese. I told him that I thought the car was an exhibit by the restaurant.
A laughter broke and the other guys shouted “mentira, mentira!” (lie, lie). I laughed too and relieved. The guy in black still held my hand and said, “I will take you to the Dono de carro (owner of the car)”. Perhaps, I was not out of trouble yet.
He guided me to another table in the front of the restaurant. Two middle-aged men were in the mid of happy chat with two beautiful girls. A guy wearing white hat looked up to me and put a cold smile.
“Nice meeting you Sir. You have such a beautiful car”, I confidently blurted, still in my broken Portuguese. “For taking pictures of my car, you should pay R$5 (about US$3)”, he said. “What a pity. Too cheap for such a beautiful car”, I replied. He let out a big smile and shook my hand. We both laughed.
Recognizing my accent, he asked where I am from. “Are you Korean?” he added.
This was the first time someone thought I am Korean. I guess my international appearance has confused him. I need to check again with my (South) Korean friends, if I have any of Korean look. Well, perhaps from the North (grin).
“No, I am Indonesian”, I responded while enjoying his surprised look. Perhaps it took him some time to think where the hell is that country. He patiently listened to my brief story about what bring me to the city. The man in black was annoyed with my slow Portuguese and left us.
I repeatedly praised his car and he enthusiastically told me more about it, which unfortunately were too fast for me. Here, it is so easy to make friends and have a warm chat with a stranger you encounter in restaurant, park or even supermarket. I excused myself and entered the restaurant. After making some new friends, practicing my Portuguese and getting some nice shots, now it’s time for lunch. Perfeito!