Friday, February 10, 2006


Manaus, Brazil

... By a man wit' no teef.

We took a three-day boat ride from Porto Velho to Manaus along a 600-km stretch of the Rio Madeira. On the second night, while we were at the port of Manicore, somebody ran off with a bunch of my shit.

And by somebody, I mean that cock-eyed, gap-toothed asshole.

I knew there was something suspicious about that guy the moment I saw him setting up his hammock next to mine. He had some kind of lazy-eye problem so he was always looking in two directions at once, kind of like a cartoon weasel after he's been beaned in the head with a frying pan. He also had a horrid set of choppers, with gaps everywhere and slivers of brown, decaying teeth pointing in strange directions. He had an annoying habit of slurring at me in rapid-fire portuguese. He would rattle off a string of sentences, and then stare in some indeterminate direction. By the time I figured out he was talking to me, I would slowly tell him in my shitty portuguese for the eighth time that I didn't understand what he was saying and maybe he could speak a little slower. Then he would smile his poisonous smile, giggle to himself, and slump back into his hammock.

Mike bought a bottle of sugar-cane liquor for us to sip on during the trip, and, trying to be a good neighbor, I shared some with a few folk around us during our first night on the boat. It was only a few shots, so most of the bottle was intact when I fell asleep. The next day, Senhor Cock-eye dragged one of his friends down to my hammock at nine in the morning and "asked" me for more liquor for him and his buddy. I suspected that if I hadn't been there, he just would have taken it, but I don't like to assume the worst in people, so I didn't say anything. Later that afternoon, I noticed that over half of the bottle had been drunk, despite the fact that Mike and I hadn't had a drop. Homeboy had probably been sipping from the bottle all day. I would have gladly given him that much if he had asked, but he didn't. He just took. At this point, I should have realized that my stuff was in danger, but I just didn't make the connection. Mike and I spent the rest of the evening finishing off the bottle ourselves.

That night, as the boat was pulling into the little port of Manicore, I felt the urge to listen to some rock and/or roll music, so I went back down to the hammock level to grab my iPod. It wasn't there. I always keep that thing in the same perfectly-sized side pocket in my backpack, but that side-pocket was flat and empty. I searched through my backpack to no avail. That piece of electronics was gone. And as I was searching, I noticed a few more things had mysteriously gone missing. My wallet, my japanese change purse, and my cell phone were also disappeared. I rifled through my backpack three or four more times, shaking my head and getting more aggravated with each iteration. Then, Toothless came shuffling onto the deck and started quickly and quietly packing up his bags.
Normally, he can't stop talking and joking around with the people next to him, but this time, he was completely silent. He was just bent over his bag, quickly shoving all of his stuff into it, and not looking at anyone. I stepped over to him and asked him where he was going. No response. He didn't even look up at me. I tapped him on his shoulder and asked him again, and he mumbled something unintelligible without looking up. Then, I noticed that the two folks on the other side of Toothless were talking to each other animatedly, so I slid over their way and asked them what was going on. Apparently, Thiago, the kid in the hammock right next to Toothless', had also just been robbed. Somebody had grabbed his wallet, which had all his money and his government documents in it. That was it. I turned around to grab the googly-eyed man, but he was gone. And the boat was pulling away from port.

I'm positive that he was the guy who stole all of our stuff. Normally, I'm not really a violent person. I've never taken a swing at anyone in my life. But thinking about everything I'm going to have to do to deal with these missing cards really makes me want to find that fucker and knock out his last good tooth.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sucks! You have had a bad couple of weeks, my friend.

2/14/2006 12:28 AM gmt

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought you guys were seasoned travellers. Seriously, rule #duh- keep your valuables with you at all times. Next thing you know, you guys will be hanging your heads out of train windows...

2/15/2006 8:53 PM gmt

Blogger jason said...

The whole "keep all valuables with you" is a good idea in theory, but not so much in practice. It's a pain in the ass to maintain a backpack full of shit with you at all hours of the day, especially if you want to dance, swim, bone, etc...
But, having said that, it is true that I could have been more careful. The iPod was in a very obvious and not so secure place. I had managed to go eight months without getting anything yoinked, though, so I was hoping that common wisdom was more paranoid than accurate.

btw... Hanging my head out of the Trans-Siberian window? Totally sweet.

2/17/2006 2:38 PM gmt

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even in familiar LA, I keep really close tabs on my wallet, keys, and cellular telephone. Or as the English say, my mobile.

One of the benefits of OCD, I guess.

2/17/2006 9:12 PM gmt


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