Guest Post: Being a hero in Brazil

This is a guest post by Jason Bastanky. Have a story you’d like to share? E-mail me, dtravelsround [at] gmail [dot]com.

If traveling has taught me anything, it’s that heroes are made, not born. No one can know just what kind of person they are, just how much they are committed to their morals, beliefs, and fellow man, until they see another person in trouble and either feel compelled to help or compelled to ignore the need of another human and tend to self-preservation. A couple years ago, I found out what I was made of. I saved a man’s lip from a subway door in Brazil. At the time I was on my way to a huge block party in one of Rio’s infamous favelas.

I’m still glowing.

I’m also thinking of trying to get a house out of Extreme makeover home edition. I don’t have a house and I am a hero. Those are all the qualifications you need. And I’ll cry and scream in excitement when they pull back the truck, I swear I will.

I didn’t know that destiny was going to call on me that day. I suppose no one ever does. I was in Rio, in the subway station with two Canadians, a Frenchman, and a Brazilian. Notice who springs into action as the story progresses (hint: only me. U-S-A! U-S-A!). We were running to catch the train, which we did, just in time.

As we were running down the platform I noticed that our party had grown by one. Although I do sometimes get excited by seeing people run, and join in out of a sense that I might miss something fun, or that they are aware of some impending natural disaster or alien invasion I don’t yet know about, this man running with us was, like us, only trying to catch the train.

As the five of us from the hostel all leaped aboard and quickly filled a bank of seats, the man behind us was chosen by misfortune to be a victim of her malicious machinations. I’m not sure how it happened, I didn’t see it, I knew we had just made it on the train, and I’m not sure how the man, dressed in a soccer jersey and jeans, turned around to face the door as it closed. It made no sense, but when does tragedy ever make sense? The gods are a capricious bunch.

At first I didn’t even know what the emergency was. I just felt the sudden onset of tension followed immediately by yelling and looking. A few seconds before I had just heard a woman ask a man to watch her bags, and, having grown up in the post 9/11 world, I thought maybe the woman, a cunning terrorist in disguise, had jumped off the train to safety as the doors closed and the packages turned out to be some sort of bomb. I saw the woman return to her bags, and then turn her head at the door I was sitting next to. I scanned the scene and as we sat next to the door I looked to my right and saw a wide eyed, frantic look on the man’s face who had run with us. He was standing an inch from the subway doors, looking out onto the platform, and his lower lip, bunched and stretched, was stuck in the subway door.

People yelled at the conductor to stop. But we were in one of the back cars, there was no way he was stopping. One of the Canadians breathed a “what the hell?” as the train began to move. That’s when the spirit moved me, and I came to the man’s rescue along with a pair of jacked Cariocas. Carioca means someone dwelling from Rio de Janeiro. Fun fact.

I stood up and reached below his lip and tried to pull the doors apart. The other men tried too. No luck, subway doors are automatic, and they don’t open if the train is moving. I stumbled a step to my left as the train lurched forward. The three of us  grabbed the man, who was now yelling, but between the Portuguese and the (hopefully) temporary speech impediment caused by the paralysis of his lower lip, I couldn’t understand a word he was saying.

“One, two, three? Ready? One, two, three?” I said in butchered Portuguese.

He made a noise I took to be in the affirmative. We grabbed him around the waist and on the count of three we all yanked. I was amazed how secure his lip was in between the doors. I even thought this was maybe some sort of bizarre street performance. But no, it was just a very unlucky man who happened to get on a train with a hero.


Jason Batansky is a location independent 23 year old traveling throughout the world, working 20-odd hours a week running 3 web-based businesses. He writes about his travels at Locationless Living and Flash Packer Guy. You can find him on Twitter @LocationlessFacebook , and subscribe to hisRSS feed.


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Dude Don't Be A Hostel Dick | The Ultimate Guide to the Dos and Dont's of Hostel Life via

Dude, Don’t be a Hostel Dick

Dude Don't Be A Hostel Dick | The Ultimate Guide to the Dos and Dont's of Hostel Life via

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: via Grumbler

I’ve spent more than 200 nights in hostels. The good hostels. The bad hostels. The awesome hostels. If you are planning to stay in a hostel, or sometimes get confused about hostel etiquette, the following post is for you. Consider this your do’s and don’ts should you decide to be a roommate.

The Check-In

1. Smile. Even if you have just had the most hellish time finding the place, a smile will go along way at reception.

2. Be nice. No one wants to see you throw a tantrum because you have to pay for sheets. Or because the Internet is down. (Well, you can get a little cranky on that one.)

Your Room

1. Don’t let your backpack throw up all over the room. If you need to take stuff out, take it out, but don’t have things sprawled everywhere. Unless you don’t mind it getting stepped on. Or lost. Many hostels have limited floor space, and you’re not the only one in the room who needs to unpack a little bit.

2. If you are on the bottom bunk and want some privacy, hang your towel down from the bed above you.

3. Nowadays, it is hard not to stay connected. However, many hostels seem to only have one or two power sources per room. Don’t hog all of them. And, if your stuff is finished charging, kindly unplug it so others can use the outlets.

4. Bring a lock. A good lock.

5. Lock up your stuff. Seriously. If there aren’t  lockers, still lock your bag. Especially if you are leaving anything of value.

6. If you are leaving early in the morning, pack the night before. No one wants to get woken up by your inconsiderate zipping and unzipping and rustling of plastic bags. No one can get it all done the night before, but keeping the noise down to a minimum and only having to pack a little is one of the most considerate things you can do for other travelers.

7. If you think you may be in late, do everyone else in the room a favor and get the stuff out of your bag that you need for the  night before you head out.

8. When you get in late at night, try not to turn on the light. Use a flashlight, or your phone, or your iPod, or whatever. If you have to turn the light in, do it quickly, and then turn it off. Don’t leave it on while you go to the bathroom/kitchen/etc.

9. When you get in late at night, hush. No one wants to hear recaps of the night in your normal voice. Or a whisper. Go outside of the room to talk. And, remember: whispers are loud when there’s no other noise in the room.

10. Don’t get it on in the dorm room. No one wants to hear moans and fluids and such. Well, at least most people don’t. If you want to hook-up, go somewhere else. Like the common room. Or outside.

11. If other people are sleeping in the morning, don’t be loud.

12. If it is after lunch and people are still sleeping, it’s OK to go about your business in the room … and not worry too much about needing to do whatever it is you need to do. Chances are the people who are still sleeping are the ones who woke you up at 4 a.m. when they stumbled in, turned on the light and chattted drunkenly.

The Kitchen

1. Buy your own food. And lable it with the dates you are going to be staying at the hostel. If you see someone else’s food, don’t take it. It’s not yours. Backpacker karma exists.

2. Clean up. This is a group environment. No one wants to wash your egg-covered pans or the sauce remnants from the pasta you cooked last night. Wash. Dry. Wipe down. Got it?

3. If the hostel provides meals or snacks, enjoy them. But don’t go nuts. You aren’t the only person who wants to enjoy the chocolate cereal or hardboiled eggs. Just because its complimentary doesn’t give you permission to take it all.

4. If you’ve made extra food and aren’t going to save it, offer it to another backpacker or the staff. Don’t waste.

The Common Room

1. Backpackers are a friendly bunch. If there is a solo packer in the common room and you are there, start up a friendly little conversation. You never know, that person could turn out to be a great friend.

2. Don’t hog the TV/DVD/stereo. Ask around if there are other people in the room. Don’t assume someone wants to watch/listen to the same thing you do.

3. Clean up after you’re done. Just like in the kitchen.

Want more hostel rules? Check out Michael Hodson’s Hostel and Dorm Rules. Ah, great minds think alike.

Got more tips? Add ’em below.

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