An Angel in Disguise


Do you believe in miracles? In less than 48 hours, I experienced two miracles. Call it coincidence or however you want to call it. But I’d like to believe that they are my little miracles and that they do exist. As Professor Dumbledore always emphasized, “Help will always be given to those who ask for it”.

And asked for a miracle, I did.

After what happened on our third day in Rio de Janeiro, I had to take extreme caution where safety is concerned. When we got back in Rio at 5am after a quick side trip to see Ouro Preto, my travel buddy planned we take a taxi to get to our hotel. I agreed to this provided that we leave the bus station at 10am. But after whiling away time at the bus station for 3 hours after we arrived, he found the notion of leaving after 10 ridiculous saying that if something is doomed to happen, then we’ll just have to accept it. But I refused to take that risk anymore, not until I’ve exhausted other alternatives.

I tried to see how much the station’s regulated taxis cost. It was R$70 for a one way trip to Copacabana. That’s roughly Php1120 or $23USD. The price was too much and I almost agreed to shoulder 75% of it just so that we could leave the bus station early. Then I thought of another plan, which will test the level of my confidence and thick-face.

The plan was to seek help from an angel in disguise.

So the hunt began. My first prospect was a group of four. I saw them sending off someone earlier and thought they’re a good fit. Two of them were young and probably knows English. But when I mustered enough courage to approach them, they’ve left the station already.

Scanning the area, I found my next target. Seated a few meters across us was a young woman who was probably still in college. She was busy watching something on her phone. The seat beside her was empty. So I slowly sat beside her and asked, “Excuse me. Do you speak English?” She probably thought I was some weirdo trying to sell stuff as she was quick to say “No”. Then I just said “Oh, okay. Because I need help.” And then she started doing hand gestures and spoke in Portuguese probably saying she didn’t understand me too. So I thanked her and left her in peace.

I went back to where I was seated, which was just a few meters across where she was. Then a guy came over and sat beside the female who was seated next to me. After hesitating, I again asked them both “Excuse me. Do you speak English?” “No” in Portuguese was their immediate reply while looking apologetic. After a while they left. I then saw the young woman that I approached earlier looked our way. She must be thinking by now that I wasn’t a weirdo as I have a luggage and a backpack with me as well as my travel companion. Then I started scanning passersby again.

I saw my next target. A young guy who was holding his phone, which has a broken screen, while looking over a shop’s window. Maybe this time, a guy will have pity on me. After activating my thick-face, I stood up and approached him. “Ola! Do you speak English?” And again, the familiar “No” but I decided not to give up and talk a little bit more. I told him I need help and he referred me to the information counter. I then told him we got “roubado” and asked in slow simple English if he can book Uber for us. I really think he understood what I was trying to say but he declined to help saying he can’t understand me and said no to the Uber request.

Three rejections was too painful already. So I sat back on our bench, opened my bag, touched the present I got from Ouro Preto, and silently prayed for a miracle.

And in an instant, the miracle happened.

I saw the young woman I approached earlier looking in our direction. After a while, she stood up. I thought she was about to leave. Then I saw her standing a few meters away from us. Not looking at us. Just standing. The next thing I knew, she was already at the edge of our bench. Then when I our glances met, she finally approached me with a pre-written translation on her phone “Need some help?” it read. “Yes!” was my immediately reply. She then switched the translation app on her phone to English so that I can type what I needed to say. “My friend got robbed and lost his passport. We don’t feel safe to go out and hire a taxi to Copacabana at this hour. I was wondering if you could help us book Uber to Copacabana. We will pay in cash.” As she read the translation, all she did was nod to say she will help. I was so relieved to know that my plan worked.

We found help! Yay!!!

She then asked me for our hotel address. After a couple of tries, it seemed that Uber wasn’t working properly. I almost thought it was the end of us. That it was back to zero for us. But the unexpected happened. She typed in her translation app that we should go down since Uber wasn’t working on the second floor. I immediately thanked her and quickly told Marx to hurry up and grab his stuff as we were leaving. I learned her name was Ariane.

The app was still not working at the ground level of the bus station. So Ariane asked us to follow her outside the building. With her hand gestures and Portuguese, I thought she will hire a yellow cab for us but she didn’t. Ariane said not to take the taxi as it’s quite expensive. Instead, she tried to book Uber again. But it seemed to be not working still. Ariane looked at the bus terminal across the street then signaled for us to follow her. I was thinking she was going to send us to take the bus instead. While waiting to cross the street, I asked if we’ll take the bus but she said no. When I asked if it’s still perigroso, she kind of nodded. Then the next thing she did was try and book Uber again while waiting to cross the street. And alas! She found a driver for us.

She called the driver to give him specific directions where we are. She stayed with us until our Uber ride arrived. She attempted to get my WhatsApp number but I don’t have a mobile phone and I don’t have a WhatsApp account too. I thought of giving her my calling card but I forgot about it in between crossing streets. The help was too overwhelming and I couldn’t thank her enough for her kindness. I was thinking of having a photo together but that might be a bit overkill. She said her name was Ariane. I’m not sure if that’s even how it’s spelled. It’s pronounced as Ar-ya-neh though. I hugged her and thanked her for being our lifesaver that day. She was truly godsent.

angel in disguise
in between those pillars, an angel hides walking back to the Novo Rio bus station



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