A few days ago, I wrote what I felt may be an overly bleak view of some of the dangers in Salvador.
I hate being right sometimes.
On Friday evening, five friends and I jumped in taxis to travel over an hour to a local stadium to see Australia play Croatia in a pre-World Cup friendly, which will be blogged on soon.
(The problems of the public transport and roads here is another topic for another time…)
After the game, we all crammed into a larger taxi and were almost back to the city centre when the only local among us, a friend of a friend called Anderson, suddenly insisted on getting extremely close to me.
This was because, with the taxi window down, a bunch of kids walking past the car had spotted first his cell phone, and then his silver chain, and decided that they wanted both of them.
One of them reached in to grab his phone, which is when he tried to reposition himself on my lap, (I was sitting in the middle seat, something which, ironically, I usually try not to do).
He fought him off, but then one of the friends decided to reach in and grab the chain, all the while telling us to hand if over, otherwise we were going to get shot. (Unfortunately, I understood what they were shouting at us).
And our taxi driver, stuck in traffic, just sat there.
After fifteen seconds which felt like at least sixteen seconds, (each of them terrifying), Anderson managed to get the window up, and the taxi driver managed to inch away, but not before one of the teenage punks had poked his fingers into the taxi in the shape of a gun.
They didn’t go off.
This is actually the second time this has happened to me, the first being in Buenos Aires when, driving home with a girlfriend with the car windows down, a kid had leaned into her window and said something to me I didn’t understand. She had to translate for me, backwards and forwards, that he wanted money, and by the time the translation was done the lights had changed to green and I told her to just drive off.
Luckily, it was only later that she told me he had said he had a gun. Otherwise, he would have gotten everything I had in my pockets, and probably my trousers too, (although he may not have wanted them at that stage).
Apparently, this was the smaller, street version of a street gang tactic called arrastão, where a large group of people swarm on one area and take everything they can.
Robbery I can understand, and am wary of. But when someone threatens to end your life for no reason…well, let’s just say that I am much more careful about what I carry around, much happier to give it away if I need to, even more wary of where I go, and trying not to be in places I don’t know after dark any more.
Last night was a warning. Luckily, eventually, an uneventful one…