It’s 4AM. We’ve been in Rio for about ten hours, after a total of 36 hours in transit. I wake up to aggressively loud bashing on the door of our shared hostel dorm. I’m in that awkward limbo between drunk and hungover where you’re not sure if you feel good or want to die, but you’re definitely confused. After several minutes of persistent banging, it looks like nobody else in the six-bed room has a) gained consciousness or b) gives a fuck. I stagger to the door and open it. Surprise surprise, it’s our mate Jordan. Accompanied by a six foot Sudanese guy who demands I cough up 30 reals. Jordan is blackout drunk, babbling nonsensically about Rio’s biggest gang lords, pants unzipped, crying.
I scrounge through my stuff to look for some money. I realise I haven’t even got any local currency yet, having arrived in the country late at night (and, let’s be real, being a generally disorganized piece of shit). Withering under the gaze of Jordan’s terrifyingly staunch companion, I try shaking our friend Matt awake.
“Dude, there is some guy in our room who says we need to pay him. Give me your wallet.”
Responding with a perfect combination of options a and b (see above), he pushes me off and mutters his locker combination. After spending two minutes fumbling in the dark to open his locker I can’t find the goddamn wallet inside and I’m starting to seriously panic that none of us have any cash, before I realise the wallet is probably still in his pocket. I stick my hand in his pocket and rip it out, he doesn’t even stir, and THANK FUCK there is 50 reals inside. Relief floods. I hand it over to the guy and to my immeasurable surprise he hands me back my 20 reals change. Stoked.
He pockets the cash and walks off down the corridor without a word.
Jordan, who is a biiiig boy, is still staggering around the room like a gorilla on ket.
“What just happened?” I demand.
“The gang lords took everything, they took it, they took my wallet, they took my phone, my GoPro, they’re coming for me, I have to go back and pay them in the morning, they’re coming for me,” he babbles between hiccups.
I have no words. He is either in serious trouble or doing some serious blacked out bullshitting but I am too disoriented and annoyed to make a distinction.
“What do you mean they are coming for you? What did you do? What happened?”
Talking to someone that drunk is like coaxing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity out of a toddler.
After several more rounds of questions, he manages to say “they touched me.”
He declines to give me any further information.
At this point I can confirm he is almost certainly talking out of his ass. I give up and jump back in bed, and he staggers off down the hall to his room, hauling his unzipped pants up on the way.
Around midday, we head into Jordan’s room to find out what happened. The last we’d seen him before the 4AM incident was around midnight at a bar we’d wandered into while wandering through one of Rio’s infamously chaotic street festivals in Lapa. The dirt-cheap caipirinhas decorated with brightly coloured tropical fruits were far more dangerous than we had realised and we were all ten times drunker than intended. It was our first night in Rio, the four of us. The first location of our two month holiday. We were all totally new to the wonders and terrors of South America, and all too familiar with the feeling of oncoming jetlag. We decided to call it a night and get the 30 minute cab back to our hostel. Jordan, however, and his drunk-man’s-brain (dick) decided it would be a good idea to stay on and continue chatting up (yelling inaudibly) some hot sisters on the dance floor.
Next time we saw him was 4AM, con Sudanese debt-collector.
“WAKE UP DICKHEAD,” Matt shouts, shaking a half-naked, fully-decrepit Jordan awake.
After giving him a couple of minutes to pull himself together, we tentatively ask him what happened.
“Oh, it was so fucked,” he begins. Reawakening my concerns he actually did get raped and robbed by gang lords.
“I was leaving the club and they made me scan this card thing on exit-“
“You mean the bar tab card?” I interject.
“Yeah, that,” he says. “They made me scan it and I apparently owed them 63 reals or some shit. I only had 50 on me so I gave them that but they wouldn’t let me leave until I paid the last 13. They took me out to the back room and told me to empty all my pockets, they took everything I had on me as collateral, and then they strip searched me. I started crying and made a video saying goodbye to my parents on my GoPro and they all just laughed at me. It was so fucked. And then after like four hours they let me go but I had no money and no idea where our hostel is. This cab driver actually saved my life, he took me in and drove me to Copacabana and drove around until I saw something I recognised and dropped me into the hostel, but I had no money to pay him, so he came into the hostel with me to get money. I have no idea where I got the money from but I managed to pay him, so lucky hey.”
So, turns out, after countless warnings about how dangerous it is to go out in Rio and a night of concern our friend had been touched up by the Brazilian Mafia, Jordan had simply not been able to pay his bar tab and was dealt with fairly accordingly. He got his GoPro and all his possessions back the next day when he went to pay his remaining tab.
That, my friends, is how NOT to go out in Rio.
Or anywhere, really.