January 29, 2007

Swedes Attacked
Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil

Today's departure will be delayed by a few hours, as two of the Swedish guys giving me a lift to Rio de Janeiro were assaulted outside the hostel early this morning.

The story, as it's retold to me, sounds like classic example of what happens when you walk home at four in the morning, after drinking it up from a bar. It's never a good situation to place yourself in, and the minute your guard goes down—BAM!—you're hit in the head with a bottle.

Henrik and Timo went with company to a bar (the Alohaa Living Bar) a few blocks away from our hostel in the suburbs of Foz do Iguaçu. Casual beers on a Sunday night turned into glasses filled two-thirds of the way up with vodka. It was getting close to 4AM, and the once crowded bar/nightclub was near empty. Their company from the hostel had already returned home.

Hostel Bambu has a gate restricting access into the front yard of the former family residence, now turned hostel. This lot, like most others I've seen in these parts, has an electrified fence that runs along the top of the enclosed perimeter.

If you've got a private room you receive a key to your door and one to the front gate. If you're staying in a dorm room, you have to use the call button outside the gate. This was the location of this morning's incident.

A bit drunk (and oblivious to everything but the callbox) Henrik hit the call button, ringing a phone inside the hostel. In the middle of his second press he was struck in the head by an empty beer bottle—most likely the heavy, 1-liter variety—knocking him out.

Just before the strike Timo, the tallest of the two, had noticed the group of four boys (probably age 17 or 18) walk up to them and say something in Portuguese. Moments later Henrik was unconscious and Timo had three of them punching, kicking, and stomping on him. A cry for help went out, but he too was soon beaten to sleep. Henrik awoke and started fighting off his assailant, only to see the other three all over his friend.

The female staff member on duty, walking to the window to see who was at the gate, started yelling at the group when she saw the scene. The boys ran.

It wasn't long before the young owners of the hostel, asleep on the property, were outside. The police and an ambulance arrived shortly thereafter. Timo was still unconscious and laying in the street as Henrik spoke to the police, utilizing a staff member as a translator.

As Henrik was examining his friend, still on the pavement, he noticed a cell phone next to him that didn't belong to Timo—it belonged to one of the assailants! Much to Henrik's delight, it was a camera phone and contained self-snapshots of one of the attackers. He promptly handed it over to the police, which he now regrets.

Both were loaded into the ambulance and taken to the hospital. Henrik's injuries weren't very bad, mostly head trauma from the bottle strike, but Timo was another story. His shoulder was dislocated, and had sustained some nasty injuries to his head and legs.

X-rays were taken of Timo, his shoulder put back into place, and a prescription written for pain management. As the hospital was only a block or so away from the hostel, the three (one of the owners had accompanied them for translation) walked back to Bambu—finally getting to bed around 6:00 in the morning.

Taken from the pair wasn't much anything of value. The kid that was mugging Henrik had enough time to unscrew an earring that he wore, as well as take his silver necklace. Timo wore a similar necklace (also taken), as well as having the cash in his pocket liberated from him. After the bar, Henrik didn't have any money left to steal. The thievery was clearly interrupted, as Timo still had a watch and some other items on his person.

My intuition tells me that the pair was probably followed home from the bar, and didn't just run into random assailants on the street. The female staff member that yelled at the group from the window of the hostel said the guys were yelling some pretty nasty stuff at Timo as they beat him—possibly indicating that did something wrong at the bar without knowing it (such as talked to the wrong girl, or look at a guy the wrong way).

Nothing will happen with the police. They two wished to file a report, but they'd have to do paperwork on the spot, and then again later in the afternoon. After, it would be a least a week before an investigation began. They opted to get out of the city instead.

I can tell you this much, with all the information to go on with the cell phone (which I wouldn't have handed over, immediately), I'd be playing detective and judge with these guys personally. Lord knows I've got the mindset when it comes to such things, and with the proper motivation, the population of Foz do Iguaçu would be minus four criminals. Lord, a photo and a cell phone, probably with his home number programmed into it—what more could you ask for?

Well, off to Rio we go…



January 30th, 2007

…They should get Dog the Bounty Hunter on that.


January 31st, 2007

Go in peace bra..

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