All Photographs + Text Copyright 2012 Christopher Keeley

Madness in Rio.

When I was a freshman in college I was given the opportunity to visit my parents over the Christmas break in Mauritius. I was attending the American University, eventually was dismissed for achieving a record low grade point average of 0.04. This translates into failing every course but one in which I received the grade of D. My parents did not receive the report of my grades during the break, which saved me from lots of grief, embarrassment, and hardship. They learned later, via a letter from the Vice Dean approximately eight months later, when the Dean officially dismissed me.

In order to travel to Mauritius, halfway around the world, I had to fly to Rio de Janeiro and then to Johannesburg, South Africa, arriving in Port Louis, Mauritius two days later. Being the dependant of an Ambassador, I was afforded the luxury of flying first class. I took complete advantage of this opportunity and started drinking Vodka laced Bloody Mary's in the VIP lounge. I also traveled with a large supply of Hashish, which was supposed to last me my whole three-week vacation. I was even taking an extra week off school, which I couldn't afford academically because I was already on probation from the previous semester.

My good fortune led me to having an overnight in Rio because the airport was fogged in. We had to land in Sao Paulo, Brazil, thus making me miss all my plane connections. This unpredictable fog extended my trip travel time to three days. The airline had to pay for my hotel stays in Rio and in Johannesburg. I didn't mind because I was going to party first class. On the way to Rio the gentleman in the seat next to me on the plane provided me with some Valiums and I turned him on to Hashish. I was so bold I was even smoking in the plane doing one hit at a time in my seat. Somehow the dude next to me, a Peace Corps volunteer, also got to fly first class.

After I checked into the hotel I immediately went to the rooftop bar, which had an amazing view of the city. At the bar I met a Brazilian man with whom I immediately became friends. I asked him if he could get me some Cocaine. He said that we would have to go to the mountains, and that it would cost approximately 100 dollars. I did not have that kind of cash.

The Brazilian dude came to my hotel room and I turned him on to Hashish, which he found fascinating. And he loved the Valiums, because Cocaine addicts need to come down so they can go back up. We were instant friends.

I decided to write a check and approached the hotel manager with my hard luck story that I was stranded in Rio due to missing my connection, that I wanted to buy my mother some gems. Brazil had many precious stones, I said, and could he honor my check for 100 dollars? By now it's after midnight and my flight is 6:00 a.m. that morning. The manager gave me the cash for my rubber check. The check would bounce because of insufficient funds in my account.

I then take a taxi with the Brazilian dude to the mountains of Rio. We are able to drive halfway up the mountain, until the road is no longer automobile friendly. We pay the cabdriver and get out of the taxi. We walk up the mountain and eventually the Brazilian dude tells me to wait on this path. I can see the city lights of Rio many miles away. I wait for approximately 40 minutes and suddenly get scared, paranoid scared, because here I am, on this mountain top, stoned out of my gourd, with no cash, no idea of where I am, nor how to get back to the hotel. I don't speak Portuguese and itÕs 2:00 oÕclock in the morning. I begin to wander down the mountain and pass by a little shop. I look in the window and miraculously see my Brazilian dude doing lines of Cocaine on a coffee table in the shop.

I enter and say, Hey, what are you doing with my stuff, why did you leave me? He acts as if everything is cool and shows me about an ounce of Cocaine. We do some lines and I convince him despite his great reluctance that I have to get back to the hotel. We catch a pirate taxi at the bottom of the mountain and head back to the city. Once we get back to my hotel, I remember I left my camera in the bar of a neighboring hotel. ItÕs 4:00 a.m. and the bar is closed. I approach another hotel manager and describe my camera, which he promptly gives to me from the hotel safe. I had left the Brazilian dude in my room with my luggage. What saved me was his fascination with the Hashish. I rewarded him with a gram or two. He then wouldn't leave my hotel room. I caught my next connection to South Africa.

After landing I went to the airport hotel bar, where I made friends with an alcoholic partying dude and two bar slut women. I, however, did not let them in on my good fortune of having Cocaine and Hashish, which I was using in the bathroom. The bar closed and the alcoholic South African dude convinced us all to go to his house a few miles from the airport hotel.

We get to his house equipped with a pool. The refrigerator had only beers in it. The house had no furniture. We sat around the pool drinking beer until the sun came up. It was the strangest thing. This dude traveled around and had this house with no furniture except maybe a bed and an icebox full of beer. No food, no books, just some lounge chairs by the pool. I think the dude even admitted he was nothing but a drunk. I was dying to tell him that I had the best hash and coke in the world, but I didn't because South Africa was such a police state, and who knows what the dude's occupation was. The women were too old for me, and I caught my connection to Mauritius a few hours later, not even using my hotel room in South Africa.

In Mauritius an embassy driver met me at the plane. I avoided customs altogether because he picked me up VIP style. I had no appetite for lunch, which was a seven course meal. Being the addict I was, I hardly slept a wink and my appetite was so suppressed until I had consumed all the Cocaine, which took about a week. All my experiences with Cocaine were bad. I had absolutely no control. I remember listening to the Rolling Stones album Black and Blue and the Led Zeppelin album Presence during this manic phase in my life.

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