Faces of traveling: Mysterious man of intellect

Today we cut right to the chase as we have a story (of sorts) to tell that is quite lengthy. I’ll share with you today, my most loyal readers, about a man who is almost even a pure mystery to me, and one should consider that most interesting as I’d dare to say that I know him best of all people in this great capital city.

Recent photos of him are rare, his last name is unknown, and his presence, well, just odd. A brilliant mind, Virgilio, or ‘V’ as I call him, is not equipped with outstanding social skills but he does love to talk. What he lacks in people skills, he more than makes up for in intellect. This, and his inquiries on my status as ‘friend of the hippies,’ are what drew me to this 46 year old, self-proclaimed desperado.

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, ‘V’ is at home here in the city by the bay, but his stunningly crisp English and tales of faraway lands tell me that he’s traveled around the world, maybe even a few times over.

A friend of a friend, I first met ‘V’ at a social, but more often run into him on the subway or while he’s walking his beat at the security desk on the ground of my building. Here we talk about his work with governments, social crises taking place around the world, and any one of the basket case of conspiracy theories that amuse us on any that morning. And, nearly every time, he laughs as the people on the subway gaze at the two of us with bolded eyes wondering if they should help me, or let me carry on with my conversations with the Einstein vagabond.

Perhaps I forgot to mention before, but Virgilio’s appearance is less than easy on the eyes to some. His thinning black hair sticks up in frustration around his even thinner face and high cheek bones. His bolded brown eyes and inquisitive brow dance as his crooked teeth shower even the most occupied on-looker with ear-catching information. As for his clothes, they’re always the same: A light green wool sweater, brown scarf, khaki pants and a dark brown over coat. Simple, but they are what make up his hand-rolled cigarette scented ensemble. It’s not much, but it is the expected get-up of a traveler who spends every dime he has on coffee and education. And he doesn’t pay it a second thought as he tells me, “cleanliness is just below Godliness, and as you know, I have no interest in the first.”

An agnostic scholar, Virgilio is working on his third Master’s degree with ease, but planning to travel to Crete and London while completing his fourth. He spends what time he has outside of class reading the news, perusing edgy blues bands, and spreading the good word about justice. In fact, one of his favorite people to talk about is Sheikh Aljabal, the Muslim justice seeker.

He casually tells me one morning over a cigarette and Portuguese C-SPAN, that he plans to spend his day completing all of the work he has left to do for his classes for the rest of the semester. “Eh, I’ll get it done before Easter break so I can enjoy the rest of Spring before the weather gets too hot,” yet another ode to his remarkable intelligence.

I admire him very much, and I have to tell you, dear readers, that I feel like he’ll be one of those characters in life who appeared and was gone in a flash, never to be seen again. But, with more stories than Hub and Sherlock Holmes put together, I cannot be so delusional as to think that I haven’t learned a little something from this gypsy man.

In fact, as I bugged him about places to go to get medicinal teas and foods he just slyly shook his head and said, “if you wish to find your tree hugging solutions, ask the hippies and walk with them through the city, I will not tell you because you can learn for yourself,” he told me. “It’s an ‘endeavour,’ no? You know, ‘all valuable things come with work and time,’” he told me. And, as I write to you over a warm cup of black-liquorish medicinal tea or ‘cha,’ I can tell you that he’s right.

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