Thursday, February 18, 2010

"It's just stuff"

I think it's time I told my blog readers what happened to me on Sunday night.. I've been putting it off, but I think it's important to share the good and the bad! After all, you all heard about my vomiting incident in Peru (still to date, the grossest thing ever), and so now you will hear the tale of me being robbed and assaulted at Rio's Carnaval... and how I was thus, forevermore, converted into a stastistic.

I will start off by telling you I'M OKAY. I have no permanent injuries, I'm alive, and my spirits are getting better by the day! So I'm not writing this to scare anyone, just to inform you of what's going on with me, and possibly warn you if you ever come to Rio de Janeiro that this is a VERY dangerous country, and the proper precautions should be taken. I certainly learned several lessons. But don't fret, I have ever intention of returning first the Buenos Aires and then to the USA in one big fabulous piece. :-)

As the story goes... On Sunday night, my friends and I (Marisa and our housemates, plus some other friends they know from various parts of the world), about 8 people in all, went to a street party in a neighborhood of Rio called Santa Teresa. It's a grgeous neighborhood up on a hill, known for its cobblestone streets, cute restaurants and trolley cars, but unfortunately is known also to be unsafe at night. We were at a huge party and had a ton of fun dancing, having a couple beers, and enjoying the music that the DJ was playing from a souond system he'd rigged in his car. It really was a great party, actually, and we all had a great time.

Around midnight the party was basically over and Marisa and I were tired (losers, I know) and ready to go home, and the rest in our group wanted to go to a club in Lapa, which is a neighborhood just a short walk down the hill. So we decided to all walk down together, where then they would go out and M and I would get a taxi. So... in retrospect stupidly (hindsight is absolutely 20/20!!) we started down the road, where there weren't many other people around. We had a large group of us, about 10 at this point, but some people walked faster ahead and others lagged behind, and I ended up walking with 2 others, Marisa and our other housemate Simon-- not a small guy, mind you.

Before I knew it, I felt someone tugging really hard on my bag trying to rip it off me. My first instinct was to tug back, because I had no idea what was going on. That's when the guy started dragging me by my bag and ran in front of me, and I saw he had a broken glass bottle in his hand and was waving it at me. Suddenly it hit me that I was being robbed, and all the advice I've ever heard ("Just give them what they want!") flashed into my head, and I took of my bag and handed it to him. You'd think that was good enough, but it wasn't. He hit me really hard and I crash down onto the pavement directly onto my head and hit it super hard. I tried scrambling up, and as I stood, a second guy came from behind me a smashed another glass bottle onto me, and then they both ran off. Actually that bottle didn't really hurt, but my head was killing me. We theorize that they just hit me to try to distract me so we wouldn't chase them.

I just kind of stood there for a couple minutes until it hit me, and then I realized I was bleeding from my head and had a huge lump. Marisa was there right away to comfort me, which was amazing. I don't honestly know what I would have done without her. I still was in shock and hadn't digested anything. Our friends caught up to us from behind and hadn't seen anything, and were surprised when they saw the scene. That's when I think it started to hit me and I burst into tears. Of course, after shock, I was just angry. In my bag, I'd had my camera, my cell phone, and my wallet, with credit card, some money, and an ID. I'd also had some sentimental items like the bag from Colombia, a couple trinkets from Peru, and a journal I carry with me. Obviously it sucks really bad that I lost all of those things... but as Marisa keeps reminding me, and she's so right, it's JUST STUFF. And I'm okay. I didn't get killed or even stabbed or slashed with the glass. I am lucky to be alive and okay.

I decided not to go to the hospital (much to the dismay of everyone around me) because I could tell I didn't have a concussion, and I don't have insurance to cover a hospital visit. So Marisa and I just headed home, and the others went out to a club... where, by the way, they witnessed another robbery, were threatened a second time with a glass bottle, and were nearly pickpocketed. Basically, it was a dangerouos night to be out in Lapa!

That first night, I had a scratched forehead, and a rapidly growing lump that was looking creepier by the second. It looked like this:

The swelling just grew and grew, but we didn't have any ice in the house, so I just sat with some jelly on my head while I canceled my credit cards, and tried to collect my brain.

I was incredibly shaken up, and I still am. At first, I couldn't stop feeling angry about losing all my things. My camera! My ID! And the credit card companies never make things easy, especially when you are abroad. But the good news is, I am feeling much better about the stuff (after all, "it's just stuff") and am trying to focus on the positives, like that I'm okay. I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay. A little beat up, a little traumatized, but it will all heal in time.

However, apparently I hit my head REALLY HARD because each day it just gets a bit worse. So while I started off mostly upset about losing things, I've now recovered from the losses, and am focusing on the bruises, which are multiplying by the second. The second day, I started developing some bruises around my eyes...

And today, I woke up, looked in the mirror, and cried. My eyes are swollen and surrounded by thick purple bruises. I'm not totally sure why they are bruising, but I think it's just blood kind of draining from my head injury..? I don't really know.

In any case, the good news is, the swelling on my forehead is going down a bit, and it doesn't hurt anymore. So I'd say I'm on the road to recovery.

Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. I shouldn't have been walking down that road, shouldn't have had valuable possessions on me, shouldn't have tugged back when they guy tried to rob me. It's amazing how clear everything seems AFTERWARD. But this happened, it was horrible, and I've learned some valuable lessons the hard way. The way I see it, I've been traveling in Latin America for many years, and this was my first violent attack and real street robbery (other than that time I got my camera jacked-- and then jacked it back!-- in Buenos Aires!), and in a sort of ironic way, it may have just been statistically "my turn." I will be more cautious, and... I also have almost nothing left to steal! So in a funny way, that's also good. Or something.

So yes, I've gone from looking like E.T. (first night) to looking like a zombie (today), and I will not be landing any hot Brasilian men with this face... grrr... but maybe that's a good thing? Brasilian men, especially in Carnaval-mode, have not exactly impressed me with their personalities. Just their looks. :-)

Though I'm taking it easy now, I've agreed to go out this weekend to celebrate my last weekend in Rio-- I leave Sunday for Salvador, alone. (Mildly nervous, but not going to let this take away my confidence.) I'm going to have Marisa and her friend Marie do my hair and makeup and will not let this stop me from enjoying Brasil! Besides, even if I look like a freak from the eyes up, I see no reason why I shouldn't be fabulous from the nose down.


MoNYC said...

Aw, so sorry you had this happen to you. Ánimo amiga, you're alive, you survived your statistical bad thing, and now you have TONS of good times ahead.

- Monika

Treezy said...

Mate! Horrible that that happened to you after such a great night. I was pretty lucky not to have anything like that happen to me, but a near miss, also on a street at night and also as a large group dispersed into fewer people caused me to think. Hindsight is great, but only useful for the next time. You are amazing, so I know you are dealing with it in a way that doesn't get you down. And I am so glad that you have good people around you. Best wishes going across the ocean to you!

The Belly Dancer said...

Wow what a crazy story. I always wanted to go to Rio, If I could afford to travel I would first go to Brazil, so it's good to know that it's dangerous, like where I live at anyways, Things like this happen everywhere. I am glad you are ok it's crazy they hit you after they robbed you, of course it could have been worse.