Excerpt 8: From High to Low in Rio de Janeiro!

What follows is an excerpt from my book about the most shocking and scary part of my trip while teaching English around the world. To put you in the picture, I’d just had an amazing time in Rio de Janeiro. I’d bumped into an old University mate and had a brilliant couple of days in one of the most exciting cities in the world. Then it all went tits up as I was waiting to catch my bus to Salvador, Bahia.

Such an amazing city.
But not all fun and games!
Photo by cyroasilva

The Low

I woke up buzzing. I had company for the Carnival, Rio had been fantastic, and I’d almost made it to Salvador without any major problems.
“No way, I’m not getting out here!” I said to the taxi driver. He was insisting I get out next to the nasty black market. “Take me to the bus station entrance.”
“Nao, Nao,” he said, pushing me out the door. I haven’t paid up front for a taxi since.
Thinking back he could have set me up. I kept my head down and paced along the pavement past the rotten smelling market. Men were shouting from behind the wired fence on my left. I felt someone behind. I daren’t look and trotted to the station. Once inside, I checked behind. I was safe.
After buying my ticket to Salvador I had twenty minutes spare. I relaxed, put the ticket in my bag, not wanting to draw attention to my money belt, and bought a ham baguette from a quiet cafe at the back of the station. There were a lot of free seats and I chose a high circular table in the middle of the waiting area. I rested my rucksack against the leg of the table and put my smaller bag by my feet (I normally kept my small bag hanging from my front, but there were only a couple of harmless families about, or so I thought).
I was excited about getting to Salvador. The journey from Quito had been fun, but I was ready to settle down again and find some work. On the final trip I’d planned on catching up on my diary, which I normally kept in my rucksack.
“Pssst, pssst,” said a voice from behind. The quick sound startled me. I kept my head down. Why would anyone want to speak with me? I continued eating.
“Pssst, pssst.” Don’t look back, don’t look back, I told myself.
After a minute, I felt a tap on my shoulder. My heart started racing. I turned my head. A small white lad with a bum fluff tash wearing a blue baseball hat smirked. He was only about thirteen.
“You, you,” he said, waving a note in my face.
“Nao, nao,” I said, about to turn round.
“You, you,” he said quickly, pointing to the floor. Had I dropped some money? I’d just put a note in my pocket so maybe I had. He forced the note in my hand, smiled, and walked away.
Strange kid, I thought as I put the note on the table and bit from my baguette. I looked at the note; ten Euros? But I was in Brazil. I glimpsed down. Something was different. My large rucksack was lying flat on the floor.
I’d been done.
I felt nauseous, tense, and my heartbeat sped up. He couldn’t have? I didn’t? No. The little wanker! My small bag, which I’d put down for the first time in three weeks, was gone.
I span round. The boy was pacing off round a corner.
“OIIIIIIII,” I shouted, putting on my large rucksack and legging towards him. There was no use; more people had filled out the walkway and I lost him as I turned the corner. My fucking camera!
I realised that someone else must have nicked my bag as he was distracting me so I sprinted back to the café. I asked the waitresses and families sitting about but no one had seen anything. I was extremely hacked off.
How could I have been so stupid? Everything had gone in a flash. What hurt most was losing my diary and the photos of Machu Picchu, Bolivia, and Rio. My Auntie would never see the photos of me and Harry. I’d have to email someone from the trip, but wait; my address book was gone too,
and what about my bus ticket?
I’d been done good and proper.
I bolted up to the ticket office. Surely they’d let me on anyway.
“Perdona, alguien me ha robado, mi mochilla, mi billete,” I said frantically, trying to explain to the distraught assistant.
“Ah, okay, okay,” she said, looking behind for someone with authority.
“Necesito nuevo billette, por favour,” I said, asking for a new ticket. She told me how much.
“Que? I’m not paying again,” I said. “Don’t you understand; someone has nicked my ticket?” It was no use; I needed proof from the police.
Would have been more fun in a helicopter!
Photo by gabriel_rocha
The police, of course, maybe they could find the fucker. I had to get some sort of document for my insurance anyway. I kissed goodbye to the bus heading to Salvador, the next one was in eight hours, and went in search of a copper.
 An old acquaintance helped me.
“Hey mate, you remember me?” I asked the lad at the information desk.
“Yeah sure, how’s it going?”
“Bad.”
Within five minutes, he was translating everything to two sturdy coppers.
“You need to go with them to the tourist station and fill a report, and then maybe you can get your bus ticket,” he said. “I’m sorry man, this happens all the time round here, it’s not a nice place.”
The coppers whizzed me round the streets of Rio to the tourist police station and within two hours I was back, pleading for a new free bus ticket.
“What, porque no?” I said to the bus company manager showing him proof that I’d been robbed.
“Company policy; it’s not our fault,” he told me, in Spanish. I bought another ticket.
The girl who dealt with me must have felt sympathetic as she never put through the credit card transaction (which I found out a month later after it failed to show up on my bill). Not everyone that day was being a wanker.
I felt the lowest on my trip so far. I had to wait six hours for the next bus and another twenty-six hours until Salvador without anything to listen to or read. The worst part was that I’d arrive in Salvador at night without a map or any idea where to go.
I was furious and kept retracing my steps. The mugging had happened so quick, who nicked the bag? Had the cabbie been in on the scam? It was probably better I had lost bum fluff boy; god knows what weapon he could have had.
I’d been done by the pros of Rio.

For the first time in six months I wanted to be home. I wanted to be safe. I still felt revved up when I boarded the bus; book-less, music-less, soul destroyed and thoroughly pissed off. I saw everyone as a threat, even other passengers. I trusted no one. What would Nish say? Don’t get mugged indeed. Forget the fear of returning home, I had a new fear; Brazil.


Next month’s excerpt will be about the build up to one of the craziest parties in the world: Carnival in Brazil.

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