first night in brazil

Florianopolis Travel Blog

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So normally I’m ok with what may freak some out.  I don’t really get scared easily when others think a place in unsafe.  I try and take their advice with a grain of salt.  So when I was held up at gunpoint last night, I began to think that maybe this technique was wrong.  Maybe it was time to think about these things more seriously.  Yesterday we got to Florianopolis, Brazil… a safe town and a beautiful island.  I’m thinking that we came here first as an intro to the more rough cities of Rio and Sao Paolo.  It’s a small town and since this is off-season it’s not super crowded.  My guard was down.  Four of us had gathered into a room after having our first night of a kitchen in four weeks.  Rachel and I had just made delicious veggies for dinner, which was accompanied with the local sugar cane liquor.  Perhaps that helped with the low guard.  We were flipping through channels and commenting on how many Arnold was on, when we herd a ‘pssssst!’  The tv was pretty loud so it took awhile to realize that this was coming from the window and not the boob-tube.  When I looked over there was a man fully leaning into the window with a gun pointing at us.  First thought was that he was someone working for the guesthouse or that one of us knew him and he was telling us to be quiet.  Then I slowly registered the gun.  A pistol, a pretty big pistol.  And all he was saying was ‘money.’  ‘Money, money, dinero’ and some Portuguese that I couldn’t register.  He was trying to keep the biggest bad-ass look on his face.  I was definitely feeling loose from the sugar cane juice and may have responded this way as a result of that.  I just thought, no way!  There is no way that this is happening.  Our first night here!  Me?  This shit doesn’t happen to me?  This happens to other people.  There is no way some dude in the window will have the upper hand.  No way!  The real irony of the matter was that none of us had money.  We tried to take cash out from the atm and hadn’t been able to that night.  It was our first night.  So even if we had wanted to we couldn’t have given him what we wanted.  I didn’t realize it at this point, but later the three others brought this to my attention.  In telling him that we didn’t have anything, realizing the crazy situation before us, I began to laugh.  Really laugh.  Just because it was so wild what was going on.  The others said that this may have thrown him off… my reaction to him being there wasn’t one of being scared but more of being in control.  I was using a loud voice so that other could hear me and because he kept telling me to be quiet (he seemed paranoid about the noise and kept looking over his shoulder).  After what seemed like forever of him asking for what we didn’t have and trying to figure out if we spoke Spanish or English, he moved to the two brand new Apple iBooks in the room… something that was in the front of my mind from the beginning.  My brand new computer!  There was just no way.  And still talking loudly and laughing the whole time, I got up.  I told him ‘bonna noche’ and ‘chao’ a few times.  Letting him know that it was over and that he wasn’t getting anything.  I seriously thought it was toy gun, or I would have never got up.  My mother would kill me if she knew.  But I got up, telling him to go and began shutting the windows.  Poor Dillon.  His head at the gun the whole time.  Everyone was feeling sassy, defiant.  Something ‘they’ tell you not to do all the time.  ‘Never play the hero’ ‘Give them what they want.’  Nope.  Sorry.  Couldn’t do it.  He left though.  And it was then that all of it settled in.  At the time it was only kind of real.  I looked around the room while it was happening at all three of us.  Rachel, Ivan, Dillon.  I knew it was real in and out because none of us knew what to do, but only after the guy left and we could talk about it could we really sink into the situation.  I did something I probably shouldn’t have done.  I needed to tell everyone else.  I shouldn’t have.  But I felt that we needed to get others from the group for some reason.  I didn’t like what happened then, but what could I do?  It kind of got out of hand.  People want to be involved in a situation where that only makes it worse.  So it went from happening to four people and scaring us to happening to a dozen who were even more freaked then any of us that saw the gun.  Why does that happen?  It then becomes this group collective where it shoots out into a million different interpretations.  And later everyone talks at nauseum about ‘the incident.’  I feel bad if people are scared and nervous, but my stubborn self refuses to change my view.  I can’t let other’s opinions scare me into not going somewhere, not doing something.  The whole country of Brazil isn’t represented in one man with a gun.  No guide-book, no study abroad pamphlet can tell you that something will or won’t happen.  There are no reassurances.  Isn’t that what makes travel great?

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3,710 km (2,305 miles) traveled
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photo by: Vagabondatheart