[1/2] Lisbon to Dublin – the coke smuggler

Lisabon on a cloudy day

The photo was taken two days before the flight, in November 2015, in the area of Belém Tower. It was windy. Old phone, bad quality.

I am flying from Lisbon to Dublin. I am in the middle seat, in front of the plane, between two men. After approximately one hour, the captain is asking for a doctor through the station. There is a person feeling unwell in the aircraft. A doctor and a nurse get up from their seats ready to help whoever is in distress. The ‘patient’ is at the back of the plane. I am struggling to see what is happening, but I am too far and all my attempts just make me look like a hopeless giraffe.

But then I see this flight attendant, a blonde lady in her late forties, red-faced, obviously highly panicked, running on the aisle. I become again a giraffe trying to catch a glimpse of what happens but it is confusing, there are people coming towards me, other people gather around someone who has some kind of seizure.

I am a chicken when I fly, I get easily scared, I cannot breathe properly, my heart is pumping hard and sometimes I have panic attacks. Once a teenager held my hands when we had a bumpy landing in Bilbao. So two scenarios are unfolding in my head – either the person is a terrorist, or those people are performing some kind of exorcism on the ‘patient’. In both scenarios, there is a high risk we will all die.


I am nervous, pale, I look at the guy on my left side – he is rather calm and ignores me – and then at the guy on the right side – he is empathetic (Thank God!, I might ask him to hold my hand) and starts talking to me. He tells me he is Portuguese, works for NATO, tomorrow he needs to be on a big boat and he is happy because his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby two days ago. ‘Dope, man!’

‘Do you think everything is fine back there?’ I ask him. ‘I am going to check’, says V. He goes, he pees, he comes back, but he’s not sure of what is really happening, he couldn’t see too much. ‘I think someone has a heart attack’. ‘Oh my, are you sure he’s not a terrorist?’ He looks at me pitifully and he shares one of his headphones to watch a movie. It’s a bloody thriller with Ben Affleck which doesn’t help too much. I turn my head again and wow! There is a guy with a lot of blood on his arm. ‘Jiiz, there is a guy with a lot of blood on his arm, I am telling you, something fishy is happening!” I tell V. People are even more agitated in the back, the flight attendant’s head is completely red and sweaty, and the captain is announcing us that we are going to have an emergency landing in Cork. Oh boy, Cork. The guy on the left is calm as a cucumber. I breathe in, I breathe out.

The landing is smooth, and policemen are coming in the aircraft. We are held in our seats for one hour at least. A lady starts talking with – most probably – her husband, with a very posh British accent: ’I am so pissed, Edward, we have this stupid delay because this guy has just died. OK, he has died, but why is this our fault? Why do we need to be here for an eternity’? I look at V – ‘The guy really had a heart attack. Kaput!’ We imagine a 50+ man on a business trip (flying with Vueling though?) going to his family and with his poor heart too weak to make it until Dublin. What a pity.

We get out of the plane. More police officers at the terminal. They are asking questions to every single person on the plane. ‘Do you have footage of what happened?’ ‘Footage? No, why would I have footage’?

V and I are asking people around us what that was all about. We finally find out: a Brazilian young man, around 25, had a seizure and died because he was carrying in his stomach capsules of approx. 8 gram of cocaine each. One of these capsules exploded and the boy got very ill. And paranoid, so paranoid that he bit one of the doctors who wanted to help him. That was the reason for the blood I saw on the passenger’s arm. The Brazilian died eventually and this is why we ended up in Cork with a corpse in the aircraft.

To be continued…yes, there is more to be shared…

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