Andrej Raider

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Taxi! (Rio De Janero)

Posted on | August 9, 2011 | No Comments

Original date of post: | April 18, 2009 |

Rio De Janeiro. The first time I was outside of Europe by myself. For some reason my nervousness disappeared as soon as the plane landed. With curiosity I made my first steps through the Brazilian Airport. I was asked to present passport and the ticket back to Lisbon, which I had but I knew that I wouldn’t make use of it. Its 10 pm, dark and my only orientation was a piece of paper which was supposed to show me the way through the 3,9 km (according to google-maps) till my destination, Rafaels place. Rafael was my last-minute-rescue. He was the only one on couchsurfing who accepted my request to stay at his place for some days, when I wrote to him from Lisbon. I have heard that if there is something you can do wrong in Rio as a foreigner, then it was walking at night through the city alone. But 3,9 km… should be manageable, no?

At the exit a random taxi-driver rushed to me and offers me a ride. I told him that my destination was close and I wouldnt need a taxi. “There isn’t anything at all close to here” he said, and to my surprise I understood his Portuguese better than the Portuguese from Portugal. I went to the official taxi-reception and asked how far was the place I wanted to go. The place was indeed 35 kilometers away and a Taxi cost 105 Reals (the total amount of money I had left was 140 Reals). But the taxi-driver who was insisting to bring me to my target said “I ll bring you for 85 only”, so I got into his cab and the show got started.

My driver introduced himself as Fabio and started the motor. The journey resembled a roller-coaster ride. Fabio accelerated, made a shortcut through a one-way road (in opposite direction) until he got to the main-street. Since there was a traffic-jam, Fabio decided to bomb down the sideway and after some time he managed to push himself between the other cars and drove s long as it was possible on the division line. The bus-driver (who actually had right of way) was simply scared of by Fabio not-breaking. With curiosity I watched Fabios way of driving and noticed that it didn’t really differ too much from the style of the other drivers. Things like lanes, street-signs and traffic-lights served simply for street-decoration. The traffic-lights got some attention though. Green meant: Rush through! Red meant: Look to your left, then to your right, and rush through!

After 10 minutes Fabio slowed down and said: “Sorry, we have to stop now…” and braked. I stared out of the window and realized that a machine gun barrel was staring back at me on the other side. Two heavy armed guys dragged Fabio out of the car: The police. While one of them was frisking Fabio the other one opened the door and asked me if I was kidnapped. After assuring that I was just a normal passenger the guys asked me to get out of the car as well. I was frisked and my backpack as well. No weapons or drugs found. Fabio and me could continue the ride.

But after another half an hour, Fabio starts despairing: “Where the heck is this god damned street?”. He made 5 or 6 calls and asks where the street might be. Nobody knew. He drove through little alleys and ghetto areas, stopped here and there to asked for the street. But no one could help. Speculations: “Try here and there”,… I was just glad we agreed on 85 Reals. The actual price would be far over my budged of 140 already. While Fabio was blustering around I started to worry about where I would sleep tonight. For the about tenth time he stopped to ask for the direction passing his nervousness on the pedestrians who were still walking around at midnight: “Please!! Where is this god damned street?!” and he went of the car and talked to some people at a bar. They were all almost naked. Even at midnight there were about 25 degrees. I got out of the car as well and listened to the people when they finally all agreed that the street I needed to go to does not exist. I joined the group. They started asking me who I am and where I come from. I told them about my plans and they started giving me directions of hotels. When I told them that I have only 140 Reals with me Fabio freaked out: “Oh Christ! He´s mad! He´s gonna die somewhere here on the street and the police will be behind me. He needs to go back to Europe! I need to bring him back to the airport!” He took his phone and started dialing a number. Meanwhile half the area gathered to have a discussion “how to safe the tourists life”. A Spanish-speaking girl came to me and told me how lucky I was finding them and not the evil guys who already would have killed me (and she gesticulated 5 or 6 different ways of killing somebody with her hands).

“You can sleep at the place of this man”, she said and pointed to one of the friendly guys.

“But only if you don’t have any drugs!”, was added by a woman who seemed to be his wife. “So, do you have drugs?”

“I don’t.” I said. “No drugs?”, the woman asked again. “No drugs”, I confirmed. “No drugs at all??”, it seemed that she couldn’t believe it. She wanted to check my tabacco. I let her and she gave her OK.

The chat was interrupted by Fabio who finished his phone call and suddenly rushed to us very excited: “I know where it is!!”. I went back into the cab. Alexandro on of the lovely people, and his wife joined us to get sure that I would arrive safe at Rafaels place. We arrived in front of a house with a yard, enclosed by a huge iron fence and gate. Fabio rang the bell. He rang it again and again hysterically. Then they started to bang against the gate. The dogs of the whole neighborhood were going mad. Alexandro hit the gate stronger and stronger and tried to call Rafael out. I was just imagining how I would feel if a group of strangers smashed my gate at 2 o clock in the night shouting “Get out!!! We are your friends!! Open the door!!!”

But after about 15 minutes we heard clicking and clacking behind the gate and it sounded as if someone was about to open. The gate opened and Rafael was standing in front of us. Fabio was relieved. The nightmare was over for him. The 5 of us now kept chatting for about 5 minutes. Fabio gave us a briefing of the most adventurous taxi-ride of his life and the group left. A bit tensed, but also relieved I entered Rafaels house and went to sleep.

To be continued…

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