“What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?” – Sebastian asked Eva.
“I’ll probably hang out with some of my girlfriends” – Eva replied.
“We might rent a few movies, get drunk on cheap wine, and eat ice cream out of a box. What about you?” – she added.
“What about me?” – he asked, wiping his face.
“Do you have any plans for New Year’s Eve?” – she clarified.
“As a matter of fact, I do” – he replied, placing his napkin on the table.
Eve leaned back in her chair and awaited a more detailed answer.
“I’m going to Brazil. It’s something I do every year” – Sebastian elaborated.
“Brazil? Cool. I’ve never been, but I’d love to go one day. It’s such a colorful country.”
“Yes, indeed. It is. Would you maybe like to go with me?” – Sebastian asked.
“What?” – Eva asked with disbelief.
“I could easily get you a ticket. If you’d want to join me.”
“In Brazil?” – she asked incredulously.
“Yes, in Brazil. For New Year’s.”
“But this is only our first date. I don’t even know you” – Eve exclaimed and shook her head.
“We’ve been chatting for weeks. And if you’re having as much fun now as I think you are, you should definitely come with me to Brazil” – Sebastian pleaded.
“I don’t really have money to spare right now” – Eve said after a moment of silence.
“That’s not an issue. Consider it a gift” – Sebastian replied and waved his hand to show her that it was nothing.
“OK, then. I might be out of my mind, but what the heck? Let’s do this!” – she replied excitedly.
“Are you absolutely insane?” – Rebecca asked Eve.
“You said it yourself that I should put myself out there” – Eve replied.
“Yes, I meant: “create a dating profile,” “go on a date.” Not: “jet away abroad with a stranger” – Eve’s best friend continues.
“What’s the worst that could happen, anyway?” – Eve wondered out loud.
“Are you kidding? He could rape you, murder you, sell you as a sex slave, or just abandon you in the middle of nowhere. Those are just some of the examples. Really, anything could happen” – Rebecca replied and poured herself another glass of wine, which she nearly emptied in a single swig.
“Thanks a bunch! Now I’m not sure if I should go” – Eve admitted and slumped into the couch.
“Who else is going?” – Rebecca asked.
Eve shrugged. She had no idea. She didn’t think to ask.
Her phone rang. A text message.
“Well, pour me another glass, too, because I AM going to Brazil” – Eve said, raising her glass.
Rebecca looked at her, puzzled.
“He just texted me. He’s got the tickets” – Eve showed Rebecca her phone.
“Is anyone else coming with us?” – Eve asked Sebastian as they boarded the plane.
“Nope, just us. I usually do that alone” – he answered.
“You know, my friend thinks you’re kidnapping me, you will rape me, sell me for sex, then kill me, and leave my body in the middle of nowhere” – Eve said to Sebastian as they found their seats and fastened their seatbelts on the plane to Brazil.
“Some friend you got there” – Sebastian chuckled.
“That’s not the reaction I was expecting” – Eve looked at him, and a flash of fear ran through her body.
“I look forward to meeting her. Or him” – Sebastian continued, clearly amused.
“I’m glad you think it’s funny” – Eve started having doubts about this whole trip.
“Calm down. I’m taking you to Brazil so that we both can have some fun and then we can BOTH return back home” – Sebastian showed Eve her return ticket.
“Why would I waste money on getting you a ticket back if I was going to leave you behind in Brazil?” – he asked with a smirk.
Eve was getting agitated by his humor.
“What are we going to do there, anyway?” – she asked.
“I guess you have to wait and see” – he replied and then slipped the eye mask over his eyes.
Eve could not help but do the same and take a nap.
The flight from New York to Rio de Janeiro took 10 hours.
“You might want to switch your night lamp off soon. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow” – Sebastian said as he switched off the light on his bedside table.
“You still have not told me what we’re doing tomorrow” – Eva scoffed, turning a page in her book.
“We’re going into the Amazon jungle” – Sebastian replied from the twin bed a few feet away.
“Oh. That’s pretty neat.” – she replied happily.
“As long as I don’t plan on abandoning you there. Right?” – he asked, remembering their plane conversation.
“Not funny” – Eva said as she put her book away, switched off the light, and turn onto her side.
“When are we going back to the hotel?” – Eva asked Sebastian.
“Why are we stopping again?” – she continued with her questions.
“We’ll go back tomorrow. We’re going to set up camp here” – Sebastian replied, getting out of their Safari car.
“Tomorrow? Camp? What?” – Eva wasn’t sure if he was joking.
“Yes. We will ring in the New Year here. In the jungle. Away from civilization” – he explained.
“Are you insane? Why?” – she continued, refusing to get out of the car.
“You said it yourself that you are tired of the traditional New Year’s celebrations. Out here, it’s just us and the jungle. No loud music. No loud bangs. No drunken idiots” – Sebastian elaborated, as he pulled out supplies from the trunk of the car.
“I’m going to die. I’m definitely going to die out here” – Eva thought to herself as she looked at her cell phone and saw no reception.
“How are we going to survive out here? Anything can eat us” – she said, slowly stepping out of the car.
“Not anything. Just some things” – he corrected her.
“But don’t worry. I told you this isn’t my first rodeo. You’ll enjoy it. Just wait and see. Loosen up” – he added, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“I’m so glad you are back in one piece!” – Rebecca exclaimed as she entered Eva’s room.
“Yea, me, too” – Eva replied, patting a spot on the couch next to her for Rebecca to sit.
“So? Tell me how it all went” – Rebecca asked, jittery with excitement.
“You know how your mom used to wash her face on New Year’s Eve?” – Eva started.
“Yes, she’d drop some coins into the sink and then fill it with water” – Rebecca finished the tale, without realizing what Eva was trying to say.
“And how your aunt always baked a cake with a penny in it?” – Eva continued.
“Yes. That’s all for prosperity and good luck” – Rebecca explained.
“Well, Sebastian takes off all his clothes and takes a mud bath. He covers every square inch of his body with mud and then lets it dry on him. He doesn’t wash it off until the next morning.”
“Oh” – uttered Rebecca.
“Yea. That’s what he does on New Year’s Eve every year. Before putting on the mud, he runs around the jungle and swings from the vines” – Eva added.
“Woah! Did you do all that?”
“I had no choice” – she exclaimed.
“Sooooo?” – Rebecca asked.
“Soooo?” – Eva repeated, unsure of what she was being asked.
“Sooooo…. You got to see him naked. All of him” – Rebecca said and winked.
“Well, we did agree to meet for another date” – Eva replied and burst out laughing.