I think God is trying to tell me something. Last weekend I was excited to go out, and then I got sick. This weekend I was looking forward to going out to make up for last weekend and I got mugged. Let me share with you what happened:
I had gone out with Bruno and two of my Guinean friends, Valdir and Ronny. We went to a club (discotecha) called Insomnia where all the foriegners seem to congregate on weekend nights. The crowd is always the same, but the music is better then most other clubs, which is why we keep going there. The night was normal. We were dancing and having a good time, but by 2 am everyone had left to other clubs, so we though we would too.
We were a block away from Insomnia when we came to a crossroad. Ronny and Valdir wanted to go to Tabanka, which was on the other side of the block and Bruno and I wanted to go to Plack, which was a 7 minute walk away and much closer to my house. With out coming to a compromise together, we decided to split up.
Bruno and I were walking and talking and suddenly I noticed Bruno wasn’t by my side anymore. I turned around and found him in a headlock, a knife pointed at his side, and someone digging through his pockets. In shock at what was happening, I begin to backing away from them and then, once coming to consciousness, started running and trying to call Valdir and Ronny on my cell.
Then I head someone running behind me and calling for me to wait. I tried running faster but there was no outrunning an almost 6ft man in my flip flops. I turned around and saw his big athletic frame running towards me, as If he was the safety and I the wide receiver running for a touch down. And as a football player would, he tried to grab me from behind, but I ducked and he passed over me. From the front he grabbed me and we struggled for a few seconds before I fell. On the ground he continued to try to get the phone from out of my hand. He hovered over me so I took the opportunity to kick him in the face, hoping he would just back off after words. WRONG! I know I got him good because he stopped, cursed me, and began to punch me. I resorted to the fetal position, using my arms to cover my upper body as the blows continued to fall. One or two got through my arms and got me right in the eye. I could feel my eye and nose throbbing and I prayed it wasn’t going to be serious. After what seemed like hours, but was probably only 10 seconds he stopped, grabbed my phone and took off running with his accomplice.
It all happened so FAST!! I got off the ground and couldn’t believe what had just happened. I saw Bruno walking towards me and wondered where he was when all that was happening. He asked if I was ok and said the second guy was holding him off with the knife so he couldn’t come toward me. But it didn’t matter really, it was all over and done with.
We walked back to Insomnia and I could feel my eye swelling up. It felt oozy and puffy. My jeans were ripped, my entire side covered with dirt and one of my earrings was missing. It was definitely a sight to see. I rinsed out my eye and got some ice from the bar tender. I just wanted to go home.
I was ready to call a cab but Bruno convinced me to go back to his place. And he was right, did I really want to go back to a house with no lights, no water, and be by my self after an experience like this?
I showered at his place and he lent me some clothes to change into. I couldn’t sleep, so we stayed up talking while I iced my eye. At 4 am Emilio came home to make bread in the morning for the cafe. Since he doesn’t sleep here we took over his room, which has some extra mattresses. He surely wasn’t expecting to see us there, so the expression on his face was priceless when he walked in the room. And his face told us everything he was thinking. Bruno and I quickly explained what happened to us before he begin to over think the situation he was walking into.
I finally fell asleep but got up early because I had work the following morning. As cool as it is to have a friend hat lives on top of a bar/café, it’s not cool when you are leaving his house early in the morning with a black eye and wearing his clothes. On top of everything, now all the Portuguese guys that I’ve come to know who eat breakfast at the bar think Bruno and I hooked up. Greeeeeeeeeaaaat.
Fortunately the swelling had gone down significantly and I was able to get by saying I had a bad case of Pink eye to those who asked what happened. But for people like my boss and step-dad, I couldn’t get away with that lie so I had to fess up about what happened. I wore sunglasses throughout the day and by Monday my eye was looking back to normal, just really red.
I finally ran into Valdir and Ronny and told them what happened. Ronny said he saw I had called and was trying to call me back, but he knew something wasn’t right when the call kept getting disconnected everything he called. He figured it wasn’t me because it was something out of my character. They felt bad because they figured if they had been with us nothing would have happened. But no one could have know what would have happened.
But what is crazy to me is how safe everyone says they feel here. Since that day I keep hearing, “ I’ve never had a problem, or I always walk around late at night.” I have my story to share now as a reminder to other foreigners that even though it feels safe, anything can happen.
So what did I learn, you ask? Haha plenty!!
1) Take a cab at night!! ( Even this part is tricky because taxi drivers have been known to pull some shady stuff as well, especially at night) Or walk in groups.
2) Be aware of your surroundings. Had we noticed then before they snuck up on us we probably could have avoid the whole situation
3) When getting robbed, just give them what they want in order to avoid any physical harm. This is exactly what I didn’t do that I will do if there is ever a next time.
4) I learned my own vulnerability. I guess in my mind I always thought of my self as a tough chick. But I learned that my physical strength have their limits, especially when confronted with a grown man twice my size.
5) I think that most importantly I’m walking away from this experience with new eyes. Having an experience of this nature changes you. It’s a subtle change, but it’s deep and lasting. When I’m walking around at night now, my whole demeanor has changed from how it used to be. Not that I assume everyone is dangerous, but I’m much more aware of the possibilities of violence and theft. My awareness of my surroundings has shifted or heightened.