Robbed in Brazil at Gunpoint

For the four months we’ve been travelling in South America we have been able to avoid the commonly spoken about robberies – that is, until today. Today we surrendered all of our valuable things to a man on a motorbike threatening us with a gun.

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Here is how it all happened.

It was about 11:30am on a Monday in Salvador, Brazil and we were walking back from the grocery store to our hostel. Our hostel wasn’t in the most common tourist area but it was in a nice neighborhood. The area had seemed very safe over the last few days.

I was walking a couple of meters behind Daniel when a man on a motorbike pulled up beside me and said something in Portuguese. Feeling confused, I looked at him and that’s when he lifted up his shirt to point to a gun strapped to him. I yelled “Daniel” and grabbed my cell phone out of my back pocket. My assumption was that the phone was what he wanted as he likely saw the cell phone in my pocket when he pulled up from behind me.

I was shaking from panicking so I just threw the phone at him, I didn’t want to get within arms reach of him. The cell phone landed near his feet. Daniel was next to me then and handed the man our money as he was still showing us the gun. The robber wanted the phone so Daniel picked it up from that ground and handed him it too.

We only had my cell phone and a small amount of coins on us (probably about the equivalent of $2 Australian.)

The robber kept saying something to us and we thought he wanted more stuff, but we had nothing else. Daniel turned his pant pockets inside out to show he had nothing else while I stood behind him with my hands up in the air in a surrender position, shaking and crying.

You must imagine the scene we created – two gringos on the side of the road clearly getting robbed. One girl with her hands up in the air to surrender and one guy with his pockets turned inside out. I think this scene was something the robber wanted to avoid on such a busy street in broad daylight. He was looking around nervously and then quickly handed us back our stuff before driving off in the opposite direction. That’s right, he gave us our stuff back!

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Our best assumption is that he must have been afraid that he was going to get caught. I also don’t think he saw Daniel when he originally pulled up beside me. He probably just wanted a quick and easy cash and phone grab. Unfortunately for him we don’t speak Portuguese and this made the whole thing a massive ordeal that he didn’t want.

I honestly can say that in this situation my overreaction is probably what got us everything back.

We are likely the only gringos in Brazil to be robbed by an armed man only to have our things returned to us.

I feel pretty lucky to still have my phone. I was definitely being complacent in the first place by bringing it with me to the grocery store, but I truly felt safe in this area. I suppose I have learned my lesson now, these things can happen anywhere to anyone.

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