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Rowan Johnson The King of Sintra JOÃO DRIVES HIS RUSTED TUK-TUK up the steep incline through the Sintra National Park, a forest of fragrant eucalyptus shrubs and tall cork trees near Lisbon. There will be no tourists along this little side road, but there will be lots in Sintra. Maybe today he can find some to take up to Dom Fernando’s Pena Palace on top of the mountain. João is just a rural Portuguese tuk-tuk driver. They kicked him out of Lisbon’s narrow cobblestone streets and steep alleyways a long time ago. Now, hardly any tourists want to take his old tuk-tuk, even in Sintra. Too slow and unreliable, they say. Halfway up the hill to Sintra, his tuk-tuk breaks down near a roadside café. A compact German family has taken over the outdoor table, with the mother cramming vegetables and nuts into a tiny knapsack and the father, a stout fellow with a deeply tanned bald head, tucking into a massive plate of sliced apples. His gold chain bears a crucifix that sways to and fro with every bite. The daughter of about six years old fiddles with her fork and peers shyly at João the tuk-tuk driver. She proudly wears a nametag: Amalia. João beckons her toward the tuk-tuk and she beams. Amalia tugs her father’s shirt but he waves her off and glares at João and then at the tuk-tuk in disgust. João remembers the common complaints from tourists and taxi drivers alike in Lisbon. They all hate us. They say there are too many of us. They say we are just like cockroaches. 217

Profile for Mojave River Media

Mojave River Review spring/summer 2019  

The Mojave River Review spring/summer 2019 issue spotlights superb poetry and prose by brilliant contributors from around the globe. Enjoy 2...

Mojave River Review spring/summer 2019  

The Mojave River Review spring/summer 2019 issue spotlights superb poetry and prose by brilliant contributors from around the globe. Enjoy 2...

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