Scott on Sock Money in Brazil

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.

Scott Senior saves up for his next trip to Brazil by biking to all his gigs.

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