MONTEVIDEO – Uruguayan President Jose Mujica and his wife, Sen. Lucia Topolansky, picked up a young man who was hitchhiking, the surprised traveler recounted in Friday’s edition of El Observador newspaper.
“On Monday I was looking for a ride from Conchinchilla and guess who picked me up on the road?” Gerhald Acosta wrote in a Jan. 7 Facebook post that included a picture of the first couple in their car.
“I had been walking for a while and around 25 to 30 cars passed by and nobody stopped” until “an SUV with government license tags and a car following it,” Acosta told El Observador.
Acosta, who was walking to his home in the city of Juan Lacaze from the Montes del Plata paper mill where he works, said he recognized Topolansky as soon as he got in the car.
“I know this woman. It was Lucia, with Manuela the dog, and Pepe (Jose) in the front seat,” Acosta said. “I couldn’t believe it. The president was giving me a ride.”
Mujica and his wife, en route to the presidential country residence of Anchorena, asked Acosta “what had happened that he needed to ask for a ride.”
The young man explained he had not been able to get into the plant because his credential had expired and he needed to return home unexpectedly.
“It was a short trip and they were very kind,” Acosta said, lamenting that he didn’t get any photos of himself with the popular first couple, although he took some snapshots of them during the trip.
“When I got out, I thanked them profusely because not everyone helps someone out on the road, and much less a president,” Acosta said.
The young man has become a celebrity among his neighbors since his pictures of Mujica and Topolansky were published by a local newspaper, El Observador said.
“After it happened everyone would stop me to ask me about the president or to tell me something about him,” Acosta said.