Brazilians don’t just steal your heart
So this is my getting mugged story (in Brazil). It’s not as bad as it sounds…but still pretty bad. I had fair warning that Brazil operates in a pretty different way and schedule than most countries. So I’m in Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro. I had been there for about a week out of three weeks and everything’s going great. I was studying pandeiro with my hero, Marcos Suzano, who in my opinion is the greatest. Life is great.
Scott’s trek to Copacabana, Brazil
One day after a lesson, I decided to drop my instrument off at my house and then walk across to Copacabana to exchange some money. So I had all this American cash – about $800 USD on me, and I’m about to cross to a whole other section of Rio and exchange it. So I drop my instrument off, grab my little man bag/purse/shoulder bag and my camera. I’ve traveled a lot, so I always keep a little bit of money in my pocket, but I stashed the $800 in my sock, just in case, you never know.
Scott stops to take a picture
Anyways, I’m about to cross this underpass, where cars are going one-way really fast. Right before I hit this bridge, I notice this beautiful old church, and I’m like “Oh, I gotta take a picture of this.” So I pull out my camera, take this great picture, and as I snap the photo, I think, “Oh, this doesn’t feel good.” I had noticed that there were a bunch of people just lingering about, and there was a favela just up the hill (shanty-towns, poor area). There were all these access ways to get up into the favela, and people were just kinda hanging around at the base of it. I didn’t feel good about that.
Brazilian heavy metal
So I put the camera away, and started walking quite fast towards the tunnel. Right before the tunnel, I got that feeling in my stomach – you know that gut feeling that’s telling you something’s not right. Sure enough, I looked behind me, and there were these two young guys walking up to me really fast. As soon as I turned, one guy grabbed my shoulder for the bag (he had seen me take the picture). The other guy lifted up his shirt to show me he had a gun! But for some reason I was completely calm – like I was almost expecting this and I had time to meditate on what was about to happen.
Scott vs thugs
So I gave my purse with my camera in it, and one guy was happy with that, but the other guy wasn’t – he wanted money. So luckily, I remembered that I had that $5 in my pocket, so I just reached into my pocket, grabbed the money, and put it in his hand. He was screaming “dinero, dinero!” I just threw it in his hand, and said, “There you go, that’s all I got.” And I just surrendered my hands in the air, and the two guys must’ve been happy with that because they ran off.
Scott encounters a friendly Brazilian
What surprised me a taxi cab driver who ended up seeing this as he was driving; he was about to enter the tunnel, slammed on his brakes (which could’ve caused a huge accident), but he just wanted to make sure I was okay. He ended up getting out of his taxi and asked if he could take me across the tunnel to where I needed to go. I laughed about it later – this is something that happens in Brazil every day! So keep your money in you socks, that’s the moral of the story.