It becomes easy to be relaxed when you’re traveling and the surroundings include cheap prices, world class beaches and exotic, bronzed Brazilian beauties. But be aware. There are those – even in a place like the paradise of Florianópolis, Brazil – that prey on those oblivious to the intoxication of comfort.
Hence, the lore of Boa Noite(noy-cha) Cinderella or Good Night Cinderella. Don’t let the fairy tale name fool you. Commonly referred to as the date rape drug, GHB (gammahydroxybutrate) still has a notorious reputation and even the seasoned can become a victim of crime. Usually attributed to use by sexual predators to accost women, it can be blamed for disorienting anyone in its path.
Such is the recent case with John. John requested that his last name not be used for publication in order to protect his privacy. John, who recently turned 37, is a seasoned traveler originally from New York, New York. John has travelled through four continents without a hint of trouble. With more than 18 years as a bartender, Wall Street stock trader, and the current co-owner of a famous bar in Berlin, John fell victim during a five week vacation on the island of Florianopolis during September 2009.
“I met this dude during the first few days I got there,” John said of a guy called Deco. “He and my other pal from New York did hang out a few times and get wasted, and we went to the main land and as well got drunk there too, So all in all, we hung out maybe five or six times in three weeks.”
It was an easy mark for Deco, the bartender at a popular draft beer joint, called Floripa Choppe Bar, on the main thoroughfare in centrinho (town center) of Lagoa da Conceição. The entire time the boys hung out, Deco could see that the generous and gregarious John had money.
Brazilians here have coined the term Boa Noite Cinderella because of its prevalence and its ultimate effect. Although the name can be confusing - it’s a transposition of two of Walt Disney’s classic fairy tales - the end result is a nightmare and always the same.
“We were chillin one night and I suggested we check out the surf during a stormy night,” John recalled. “Because my (rented) house was close to the beach and I needed some board shorts, we stopped on the way.”
Deco offered John a swig from the bottle he was carrying in his backpack.
Within 15 minutes of their arrival at the beach house, John felt incredibly ill. As a 6’6”, 250lb giant of a man, he recalled that he hadn’t drunk that much. But right then, he had to lie down.
For the next eight hours, John had no recollection of events.
The neighbors, however, complained to the rental agent the next morning of screaming, loud music, and multiple voices between 2am and 7am.
One of the first things John remembers upon waking up and feeling nauseated was some of his personal belongings seemed askew. Drawers in his bedroom had been ransacked and his tote bag had been emptied on the dining room table.
Upon investigation, he discovered that his binoculars, several of his souvenir presents, his Oakley sunglasses, more than $R1000 and Deco the ‘dude’ were gone.
“It wasn’t that I just passed out from drinking,” John said, “I know how much I can drink.”
Despite the event, John gathered his thoughts, assessed his losses and called his other new acquaintances to get his balance.
“It could have been a lot worse, John lamented. “I had more than $R6000 he could have gotten. I’m lucky I didn’t put all my money in one place. I learned that a long time ago.”
The locals deride those who prey on the unsuspecting, but cautions everyone to be aware.
“You must watch your drinks at all times,” says Claudia Terhoch, a Campeche resident. “Never let someone touch yours. A situation like this can happen anywhere in the world.”
John spent the last week of his vacation in the house of recently made friends and shook off the incident.
“About every fifteen years, I learn a new lesson,” John said. “I will never allow that to happen again.”
Even through a tumultuous event like John went through, he still recommends to his friends to visit Florianópolis. The incident has just sharpened his awareness quotient.
According to Narconon Drug Treatment Center, GHB is usually sold as an odorless liquid in small bottles or capsules (it does come in powder form but is rarer). The Narconon website says that GHB tastes slightly salty. The site goes on to describe a teaspoon or a capful is a normal dose although the strength of GHB varies so it can be very difficult for people to know how much they're taking.
The effects start between 10 minutes to one hour and can last up to seven hours or so.