The third season of Amazon’s family Odyssey “Transparent” debuted Friday on the streaming service, offering new stories from the ever-wobbly Pfefferman universe.
In a series built on poignant vignettes, one stood out as an oddity ― the story of Nacho. Nacho the tortoise served briefly as the Pfefferman family pet during Sarah, Ali and Josh’s childhoods before he escaped and was presumed dead (or lost forever). Yet Nacho had not gone far ― he merely wandered into the air ducts to survive off bugs and spy on family members from the ceiling vents. As a silent witness to Pfefferman history, Nacho would have a lot of dirt on each of the clan if tortoises could only speak English. As it stands, his discovery is a joyful finial on the episode.
When The Huffington Post sat down with series creator Jill Soloway, we found out this little part of the season is based on a true story. So we looked it up. And it’s bonkers.
In 1982, a tortoise named Manuela disappeared from the Almeida home in a Rio de Janeiro suburb and was only discovered in 2013 ― three decades later.
According to a report from Globo, a Brazilian news source, Leonel Almeida filled a room in the house with electrical items he thought he could fix, but always kept the door locked. Upon his death, his children began going through the room, eventually finding the tortoise in a box.
“We’re all thrilled to have Manuela back,” one family member told Globo. “But no one can understand how she managed to survive for 30 years in there.”
Turtles have reserve fat to sustain them when food is scarce, and some even enter states of suspended animation to conserve resources, National Geographic notes in a report on the strange story.
The real-life Nacho was less of a creeper ― having only one room to wander through ― but no less of a marvel.