Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: WEEKEND AWAY (short vacation) (07/23/15)
- TITLE: Hijacked and Robbed
By Pat Small
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Our sleeper bus is pulling out of the Natal, Brazil station. It’s 10 p.m. Three latecomers race to catch us, and our gracious driver stops to let them board. We are enroute to Fortaleza to watch our daughter perform in a school play, buy her a few things, and do a little early Christmas shopping.
I took my sleeping pill just before we boarded so that hopefully when we arrive at 6 a.m. I will be ready for a full day.
Everyone has the same goal on this bus, I think: get a little shut-eye while proceeding to our destination. We’re a couple of hours down the road when, all of a sudden, we are bumping crazily off the highway, and the lights inside the bus come on. We hit a large tree branch while going off the road into the field, and are covered with broken window glass. As I try to drag my eyes open, I see gunmen. It seems as though all three guns are pointed at me, but of course that’s not really true. They’d shoot any one of us; no partiality here.
They are shouting. “This is a hold-up. The first person to move gets the first shot.” Our three latecomers are the gangsters. One man, seated way in the back, apparently thinks we have arrived, and starts to stand up. A shot rings out, and he falls back into his seat. That’s a wake-up call from hell.
Needless to say, that little scenario is sufficient to ensure that the rest of us obey. Now we are getting the picture. One man is in front, pointing his gun toward the rear. One is in back, pointing his weapon to the front. The third man is methodically searching every passenger, as well as his bags. He demands rings and watches, cameras, and any cash. Wouldn’t you know that this is the rare occasion when we actually are traveling with extra money, with that Christmas shopping excursion in mind.
Fortunately my husband does not have to choose between protecting my virtue and getting the robber’s second bullet, or continuing to live, because when he gets to me, the gunman in the rear says: “She won’t give you any trouble. She’s Brazilian.” (There are several foreigners on the bus tonight – tourists on a budget, no doubt). I am a blue-eyed blonde which makes his comment rather funny. Anyway, he does not lay a hand on me, but does demand my diamond ring, wedding band and watch.
Finally they decide they have stolen anything of value inside the vehicle, so they proceed to the baggage compartment underneath. All of our suitcases are dragged out and emptied on the ground while they grab anything they deem saleable. At last a getaway car appears, and they are gone. We all sit quietly for a few seconds, stunned by all that has just happened. Finally someone stirs, and we get up. Some run to the highway to flag down a vehicle willing to take the injured man to the hospital. The more mechanical repair the cut air hose sufficiently to limp back to town, while others toss the suitcases and contents back under the bus.
There are no cell phones, and the bus is not even equipped with a citizens band radio so there is no way to notify anyone what has happened. We pull in at the roadside police station about an hour away where we each give statements before being allowed to return to the station to obtain another bus, and begin our journey once more. By now, it is almost the hour when we should have been arriving in Fortaleza.
I stage a couple of passive-aggressive maneuvers, and we are provided with upscale transportation and breakfast. We arrive safely in mid-afternoon and take a taxi to our daughter’s school. There we borrow money from the missionaries to pay the fare. All’s well that ends well, they say.
I must confess, this was not the kind of vacation I would like to repeat, but on the other hand I am thankful that we were not hurt, and the one who was shot did not receive a fatal wound. God was with us. He never left us nor forsook us. “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
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