We’ve been in Curitiba for the last few weeks because Beth’s been acting in a play called Dito e Feito. Yesterday was a very nice sunny day, so we decided to take our computers to the botanical gardens to do some work and reading in a more peaceful environment than inside. But since I hadn’t had any breakfast we decided to go via the supermarket around the corner and get some pão de queijo. We sat on a bench in a small park across the road and ate the pão de queijo, then Beth decided to pop back across the road and get some chocolate to take with us, and I waited in the park with our bags.
As I was sitting there a red car pulled up behind me, and then two tough looking guys with tatoos and matching medallions got out with guns pointed at me and told me to raise my hands then started looking through our bags. They seemed to think that I would have money and drugs and they were getting angry when they couldn’t find anything! I thought due to the matching medallions that they must be from a local gang, and started to panic since even gangsters in New Zealand often kill people with little reason, and this is Brazil! So I thought I had better do something even though the situation seemed completely futile.
So I kicked the closest guy under the chin and tried to grab his gun staying close to him as he retreated back across the park hoping that the other guy wouldn’t shoot since he might hit his mate. My general idea was to try and get across to the supermarket where there were lots of people, so they wouldn’t want to shoot or anything.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get hold of the gun properly and after some grappling he fired it and I got shot! The grappling resulted in quite an odd trajectory, the bullet entered just under my left arm pit next to my chest and exited near my waist on my left side at the back, and also grazed my arm. It was only a centimeter or so from my lung and heart, but luckily it just went through muscle and didn’t hit anything serious. I noticed that he was panicking then and so I made a run for it across the road into the supermarket.
To my surprise the guys ran in after me with their guns, even with a large crowd of people forming! Then the horrible truth became apparent!!! they were plain-clothes police and the medallions had “policia” on them! I hadn’t seen these medallions before and neither had Beth, or any of the people we’ve talked to since. So then they arrested me in a pool of blood on the supermarket floor, and we never made it to the botanical gardens – we’ve been a few times before though. Here’s me on the floor in the supermarket with handcuffs on and my first (and hopefully last) gunshot wound!
I spent the day being stitched up in the hospital handcuffed to my bed with armed guards all around me! It didn’t hurt that much for the first few hours, probably since nothing serious had been damaged, but then after the swelling and bruising started it became very painful to move or breathe deeply. In the evening I was transported to the police station in the boot of a police car.
I was sure that I would be deported and our adventure on the land in Brazil had come to an end 🙁 But luckily Beth had taken my documents there and been explaining the situation, and the guys we’re staying with Del and Helder were really supportive and had stayed with Beth there too. The guy who shot me was actually very nice, and he only shot because he was scared that I would get his gun. The police chief was very down to earth too and could see it was an honest mistake (sadly, most of the others were just gung-ho dick heads though). Del’s assertive attitude and his friend who’s an excellent lawyer helped a lot too, and we all ended up going back to Del and Helder’s that night without any deportings, prisons or convictions – something I had dared not even hope for a few hours earlier!
So anyway everything’s ok and I’m famous in the local neighbourhood now! Everyone was on my side and agreed that the police looked like gangsters and it was an easy mistake to make, especially for a foreigner. The next day a short news item was published here (local copy) about the incident (containing numerous factual errors as is usual for the news), which implies that I’d had the horrible misfortune to be at the place where a drug deal was going down at that time!