WHEN HIS FIST HIT MY JAW, I knew.
Vanessa and I had just turned a corner; we were only a block from our hostel in Ipanema. The scooter aimed straight for us, blinding us with its headlight, up on the sidewalk. For a moment, I thought they were just messing around. Then he swung.
That night I held ice on my jaw and cried into my pillow. Vanessa paced around with a helpless face, shaking her head, recalling seeing me down on the pavement. Between people coming in and out of the dorm, my girlfriend and I tried to comfort each other. At least we weren’t carrying anything too valuable, we told ourselves. We’re lucky it was only a punch, we said. We knew the risk of being mugged in Rio, but it didn’t mean we were ready for it.