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I curse my lack of Portuguese after an encounter with Brazilian police

I had wanted to go to Rio de Janeiro for a long time. Parties, dancing, beautiful people – what’s not to love?

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Sometimes things don't go as planned – and those moments often make for the best stories. Tripping columns offer readers a chance to share their wild adventures from the road.

I had wanted to go to Brazil for a long time. Parties, dancing, beautiful people – what's not to love? I was even willing to have a few drinks upon arrival at my first hostel, despite my 12:30 a.m. arrival. I figured everyone would still be awake – what self-respecting South American goes to bed before 3? I didn't, however, figure on the reliably unpredictable nature of travelling. So, I was surprised when no one answered the door at the hostel.

Don't you love those moments when you ring a doorbell a hundred times, even though it's obvious no one is home? I briefly considered scaling the down-pipe, before resigning myself to a taxi driver called Carlos.

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He pulled into a petrol station to make a phone call for me, when out of the shadows emerged two Brazilian police officers. Carlos handed me his phone, turned to the police, and began what evolved into an excited 20 minute conversation in Portuguese, interspersed occasionally with all three men turning to look at me huddled in the back of the taxi.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the phone was a nice lady who spoke a little English. "Your hostel is next to a favela. Is a bad place, is not safe for you. Carlos will take you to hotel, okay?"

Okay. I hand the phone back to Carlos. He says something in Portuguese, only this time I make out the word favela. He concludes his spiel by running a finger across his throat in a slicing action. The policemen nod in agreement, and one of them also drags his finger across his throat, finishing with an alarmingly realistic choking sound effect. So it's decided: another hotel.

But everyone is still standing around. Have I missed something? The policemen look at me: "Passaporte."

Ah, crap. "Passaporte" quickly escalates into "open the trunk of the taxi and we'll search your entire bag."

So there I am, on the side of the road in the middle of the night, somewhere in Rio de Janeiro, with my bag being searched by the police.

"Can't get much worse than this," I think, as one of the policemen clumsily repacks a bra and reaches for my feminine hygiene products.

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Eventually, it is decided that I am not, in fact, a drug dealer, and Carlos and I go on our slightly merry, sleep-deprived way. Saint Carlos takes me to what I assume is a good place, and here he leaves me.

Sixty Brazilian real for 12 hours? That seems a strange arrangement. As I am shown to my room, I curse my lack of Portuguese – 12 hours? What?

I open the door and see mirrors all around the bed, notice a strong smell of bleach and – is the bathroom still steamy? I'm in a freaking love hotel!

As I discovered, not every night in Brazil is a party, but it's certainly interesting.

Share your 500-word travel adventure with us. Please send it to travel@globeandmail.com.

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