“Cuidado”. “Be careful”. “75% of the people we met got mugged in Rio”. “There’s an app that shows the number and location of Rio shootings”… Why did I go to Rio de Janeiro despite all these warnings? Because they were all followed by “… but you have to go!”. I figured it’s like going to Egypt and not visiting Cairo, it’s just not the complete picture. I’m always curious about the daily lives of the locals, and that wouldn’t be complete without Rio… and it didn’t disappoint! Since I was specifically warned about cell phone thefts, I obsessively guarded my phone like a hawk. Never imagined, in my wildest dreams that I would eventuality lose it to my most beloved
My host lived in Copacabana across the street from the beach. Perfect location to go for a swim, without having to carry any valuables. So I wore my bathing suit, sarong and flip flops, took the keys and, not wanting to miss any photo opportunities, put my phone in its waterproof case, wore it around my neck and headed to the beach. The ocean was a little rough that day so I got tumbled around a few times. When I finished my wave fun, I sat on the sand and took my phone out. Even though it was in the waterproof case, it had gotten a little wet and turned off. I tried to turn it back on, but it wouldn’t turn on. I immediately went home, cleaned and dried it, still it remained lifeless. My host didn’t have enough rice, but, luckily he has a cat. I stuck the phone in a bag of cat litter for about an hour, still dead. So we looked up phone repair shops and I took it to one. Using Google translate, I explained what happened and they said I had to leave it until Monday afternoon (it was Friday). Sh!t, I exclaimed. Not only did I use my phone to book transportation and accommodation, it was also my navigator, camera, connection to my friends and, especially in Brazil where very few speak English, my translator. Spending the whole weekend without it was akin to solitary confinement. I could no longer meet up with people, make any travel plans, write or even find my way around without asking. Breathe. Meditate. Surrender to the flow. Live in the moment. Monday will be here before I know it. Rio is very picturesque, diverse and has a lot to offer. Like San Francisco, each neighborhood has its own character and charm. I walked a lot discovering a different area each day. Since I couldn’t take pictures, I made a point of slowing down and taking in every detail. I discovered new depths to living in the moment (be careful what you ask for…). On Monday at the appointed time, I went to pick up my phone, only to receive the bad news that it was un-repairable . My travel companion and reliable assistant is dead. I lost it to the ocean. I thought I was traveling alone, but I wasn’t until now. In a time when everyone is using a smart phone, when I would ask for anything that you can look up online, people would start to talk slowly and loudly to me, like I was retarded. “Let me show you on your phone”, “give me your WhatsApp number, I’ll send it to you”…talk about adding insult to injury.
Internet cafes (I was happily surprised that some still existed), borrowing people’s computers and asking for information painfully got me by for a couple of days. Now I had to decide which course of action to take. After a quick research on phone prices and plane tickets, and motivated by the loneliness I had felt in the past few days, I decided to return to CA for a few weeks, spend the holidays with my friends, get a new phone, eat lots of food then resume my journey from there. Very happy I made that decision! Everything does, indeed, happen for a reason.