Osley and I were sitting in a busy side street with lots of outdoor cafe and restaurants.
We were enjoying the local food, the colour, the noise, the smells. The sort of thing we do on The Parade in Adelaide, but without the cafe latte, Lycra,noiseuuu and smells!
I had my iPhone on the edge of the table beside me as I had looked up something on the Internet. (We had been having a gentle disagreement about whether a certain fruit was a “lychee” or a “rhambutan” )
A beggar woman came along and was very persistent – even with Osley present. She came right up to me and eventually leaned across the table into my face, imploring money. It took a lot to tell her to go away! It was actually a little frightening as she was rather menacing – straight out of Dickens. There were two outside waitresses who witnessed this interaction, displaying a look of sympathy combined with shoulder shrugs, raised eyebrows, conveying a definite message of “well it’s your problem and we see this sort of thing all the time”.
Eventually she removed her face from mine, straightened up and seemed to walk with a sort of limp up the street. About 30 seconds later, Osley exclaimed – your iPhone! Yes – she had deftly snatched it as she leaned across the table hiding it in her voluminous african style skirt. We took off in pursuit but she was nowhere to be seen!
My major distress is that I have lost all my Brazil pictures! All others I had backed up to an USB.
The reporting of the theft to the local police was, for those of you old enough to remember, straight out of “In the Heat of the Night” but twice as bad although in retrospect, tragically funny! We walked into the office in the local main square of the historical centre – Penhorinho, at about 11 pm to be greeted by what I assumed was a policeman. He slouched on a tattered swivel
seat, with a noisy overheating PC tower to one side. The sole indication that technology was at the fore front of the local Brazilian police force was the presence of a flat screen monitor.
He had no indication of a policeman’s uniform, a permanent 5 o’clock shadow, (add on 6 hours), a rather large protuberant belly, the shirt buttons at the point of bursting and displayed an overwhelming sense of boredom.
I filled in a form headed “Particulars for Foreign Tourists” very neatly using block letters. I handed it back, he then stared at it for what seemed like several minutes, transfixed by heaven only knows,
He ever so slighly sat a little straighter, moved his swivel chair a little closer to the desk , gingerly clicked on the mouse then proceeded to transfer this information across to the computer. If you think that what I have described till now is modestly and quirkily funny, well what happened next was so fantastic in the literal sense, that both Osley and I were flabbergasted. It was rib tickling but we both suppressed laughter!
He drew up the keyboard and laboriously typed using a single digit – his index finger, each letter of a word. He was the slowest one finger typist i gave ever seen. He struck each key with a confident tap then at the end of each word, paused then struck the space-bar with noisy vigor – using the well worn index finger – signaling the completion of each word. Having finished the word, he would stop, swivel back a little in his chair and stare, transfixed at the monitor. Initially I assumed he was simply doing his own spell checking, ( in Portuguese) or that the effort of one finger typing each word, followed by a space, drained so much energy that he needed to rest or that the PC was a Pentium II. However he appeared so fascinated by the screen, that I came to the distinct impression, he was after all these years as a police officer, still mesmerized by the apparent miraculous way that forcefully tapping letters on the keyboard, made them appear on his screen.
After about 20 minutes he stopped, pushed the monitor around so we could see it and indicated he needed our response question number (14c) on the monitor:
Osley, unabashed, set him straight so to speak, which prompted the officer to enquire of Osley, whether he was my husband or boyfriend! I enquired of Osley of what relevance this was to the brazen theft of my iPhone? He was not sure. The phone had not been stolen from my handbag!
Eventually we decided it was a question related to simple statistics. One can’t argue against this and if by our openness, in 10 years time, the Brazilian government issues a warning that based on statistics, homosexual tourists are more likely to have an iPhone stolen when in Brazil, I will claim a modest contribution and travel with a Samsung Galaxy on my next trip.
After about 30 minutes, when the humour of the situation was, as far as i was concerned, wearing decidedly thin, he stopped, stood up, yawned, stretching several buttons to breaking point and appeared to have completed his onerous and anaerobic activity. He walked across to a desk on which sat an old cathode TV, playing a Brazilian soap opera, and proceeded to consume half a packet of biscuits. Granted he also offered us one as well! To my horror, this was just a rejuvenating repast, designed to satiate his famished finger. Having spent several minutes catching up on the developments in the soap opera, he sat and resumed his marathon.
By this time even I was slouching! Suddenly he stopped, stood, opened a cupboard, took out a huge, frightening gun and announced he had finished and would take his report and have it signed by his superior. Why he needed to be armed to approach his superior, escaped me, even allowing for whatever Brazilian men do to each other when they meet.
A further 20 minutes passes and he reappeared, unscathed from his superior meeting and no smoking gun! He handed across the report and we left discretely. Back át the pousada, Osley read the “statement” which, in summary, described the theft of a câmera, despite the neat block lettering describing the theft of an
iPhone! It was all too much! We let it be – at least I have a report number!
In the light of day we returned to the scene of the crime and then the police station, to discover that there was a sign on the wall that stated (translated) “Office for the protection of tourists” – I can confirm that whilst in that office the night before around midnight, I indeed felt very safe!
Some of you may recall that about 9 months ago my iPad was stolen in Alice Springs, but a few weeks before the release of the iPad 2. Those cynics amongst you may think it startling that I should have an iPhone stolen but a month after the release of the latest model…so be it!