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
I woke up buzzing.
I had company for the Carnival, Rio had been fantastic, and I’d almost made it to Salvador without any
“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.
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.
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.
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
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 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
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
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
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
“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.
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
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.
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;
Next month's excerpt will be about the build up to one of the craziest parties in the world: Carnival in Brazil.
Labels: book excerpts, dangers of rio de janeiro, dangers of travelling in Brazil, is it safe in Rio de Janeiro?, risks of being a TEFL teacher, TEFL Brazil