samuelpalmeira Samuel A. Palmeira

"Survivor: A Brazilian in the USA" narrates the extraordinary journey of Fernando Silva, a Brazilian adventurer whose quest for authentic experiences leads him to a dangerous and unconventional crossing into the United States. The story begins with Fernando being attended to by 911 responders. Soon after, confused and amnesic, he wakes up in a hospital in Detroit, where he is informed that he was found unconscious in a Subaru Impreza filled with leaking chemicals under mysterious circumstances. As Fernando struggles to regain his memory and understand how he ended up there, he is visited by Marcos, a YouTuber who had plans to meet him for an interview. With Marcos' help, Fernando begins to reconstruct his odyssey from Brazil, through various Central American countries, to his tumultuous entry into the United States.

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A Brazilian in the USA


The early morning still shrouded Detroit when the light of sirens illuminated the grim 8 Mile Road. A 911 ambulance pulled up beside a silver Subaru Impreza, parked on the sidewalk. The vehicle, with its driver’s door wide open, held a man lying with half of his body outside, unconscious.

The paramedics, with the typical efficiency of those who deal daily with the thin line between life and death, approached the man, whose breathing was heavy and irregular. Carefully, they removed him from the car and placed him on a cold sidewalk bench, quickly wrapping him in thermal blankets, and while one paramedic fitted an oxygen mask over his face, another began checking his vital signs, attaching monitors to his chest and arms.

While one of the paramedics cared for the man, the other searched the interior of the Subaru. In the back seat, disheveled blankets and remnants of food in styrofoam boxes suggested that the car served as an improvised shelter. However, it was the discovery in the trunk that widened the rescuer's eyes: gallons of chemical products, some leaking, exuded a pungent and dangerous odor.

A quick analysis of the scene painted a clear picture of chemical gas intoxication. Without wasting time, the paramedics loaded the man onto a stretcher and settled him inside the ambulance. The siren sounded again, slicing through the night silence, as the vehicle sped towards Detroit Receiving Hospital, located in the heart of the city on St. Antoine Boulevard.

Upon arriving at the hospital, the man was immediately taken to the emergency wing, where doctors and nurses took over the care. The following hours were a blur of muffled voices, flickering lights, and shadows passing over his head as he struggled between consciousness and darkness.

At dawn, the man's eyes finally opened, staring at the white ceiling of the hospital room. Confusion took hold of his mind. There were no memories of how he had arrived in that city, nor of any recent events. Moving slowly, he realized there was an object in the pocket of his jacket. With trembling fingers, he pulled out a worn passport, opening it to find stamps from places he had no memory of visiting.

Thus began the search for answers, leading him far beyond the city's borders or the pages of a mysterious passport.


I awoke enveloped in a dense fog of confusion, with the rhythm of hospital machines echoing around me like a distant chorus. The artificial lights of the hospital room cast shadows that danced on the walls, creating a cold and impersonal spectacle. I felt every fiber of my body pulse with mysterious pain, as if each muscle held secrets of past storms, still veiled from my dazed mind.

As I attempted to rise, an overwhelming dizziness dominated me, forcing me back to the pillow. Nurses circulated through the room, their smiles and words trying to offer comfort, but I barely registered their gestures. One of them, with a penetrating gaze, approached and placed a glass of water within my reach, seeking some sign of recognition in my clouded eyes.

"Mr. Silva, how are you feeling? Do you need anything else?" her voice was a careful whisper as she adjusted the drip of the IV by my side.

"Fernando. My name is Fernando," I corrected her instinctively, surprised by the firmness of my own voice, which sounded strange and hoarse to my ears.

With an understanding nod, she noted something on her clipboard and withdrew, leaving me alone with my fragmented thoughts. My gaze fixed on the open passport on my lap, its stamps from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico were like scars from a forgotten journey. I forced my mind to backtrack through time, but each attempt at recollection was like penetrating an increasingly thick fog.

The door opened gently, and a man entered the room. He wore jeans and a simple t-shirt, a camera hanging from his shoulder. His eyes examined me with a mix of concern and palpable curiosity.

"Fernando, what a relief to see you awake. I'm Marcos, the documentary filmmaker from YouTube, remember? We had an appointment yesterday on 7 Mile Road. Your absence and the silence of your calls worried me," his voice carried a tone of relief.

"I... don't remember you," I confessed, my words tinged with the frustration of amnesia.

Marcos approached, his expression softening.

"Understandable, given the circumstances. I wasn't the one who called the ambulance; I arrived later. They told me they found you unconscious, surrounded by leaking bottles in the car. Apparently, they were remnants from a previous renter," he explained calmly.

"Chemicals?" I inquired, the information sounding as alien as everything else.

"Yes, in the trunk there were poorly sealed containers of acetonitrile and chloroform. The mix of vapors was probably what caused your condition, resulting in your unconsciousness and memory loss."

Marcos paused, allowing the gravity of his words to settle.

"That certainly influenced your current condition," he added, underlining the complexity of the chemical accident that had deeply entangled my health and memory.

I shook my head, the internal confusion intensifying. My gaze dropped again to the passport, the stamps confronting me with their dates and destinations.

"Nothing makes sense. I'm just trying to understand how I ended up here. What I was doing."

Marcos sat down beside me, placing the camera on his lap.

"Maybe I can help. We have a lot to discuss, but only when you feel ready."

I nodded slowly, the need to unravel my own story now eclipsing the mental disorder.


Marcos, at 32, embodied the modern, engaged documentary filmmaker. His YouTube channel had started as a platform to report on the struggles and triumphs of Brazilians in the USA, but quickly expanded to cover a broader range of topics, such as culture, travel, and adventure, always maintaining a strong focus on the human stories behind the scenes.

Known for his informal and charismatic style, Marcos had the ability to connect with people on a deeply human level. His follower base was diverse and continually growing, attracted by his engaging content and the way he explored the nuances of human experiences.

The impact of his work transcended entertainment; he used his channel as a means to illuminate stories often forgotten or overlooked, making each video a window into unknown worlds. Recognized for his commitment to digital storytelling, Marcos was frequently invited to participate in digital media events, where he discussed the power of visual and narrative content in connecting people around the world.

Marcos met Fernando in a manner that could only be described as fortuitously digital. Fernando's journey began publicly and intriguingly when he posted a video on his social networks directly from São Paulo. In the video, Fernando, a Brazilian with a burning thirst for adventure and discovery, announced his audacious decision to go to the United States alone, without the assistance of coyotes or immigration agencies, a common and often dangerous practice among those seeking new opportunities abroad.

Fernando's determination and bravery captured Marcos' attention, who saw in that story a perfect mix of human adventure and social challenge, deciding that this was a narrative that needed to be shared with the world.

He reached out to Fernando via a message, expressing his interest in documenting the journey. What started as a casual exchange of messages quickly evolved into a deeper collaboration, with Marcos virtually following each step of Fernando's journey, from preparation to his tumultuous arrival in the USA.

This initial connection turned into a broader documentary project, with Marcos planning to capture not just Fernando's adventures, but also the realities faced by many immigrants crossing borders in search of a better future.



The faint winter sunlight seeped through the curtains, casting a soft glow on the hospital bed as I repositioned myself, trying to absorb the revelations Marcos shared. He slid his phone across the bedside table and opened a messaging app, bringing to life a series of photos, videos, and audios—visual and sound fragments of a journey I had undertaken, but which my mind stubbornly refused to remember.

"Here you are in São Paulo, Fernando, ready to embark on your odyssey," Marcos began, showing a video of me in front of a vibrant mural at the airport. I was wearing a sturdy backpack, my face radiating anticipation. "Your excitement was palpable; you spoke with the authenticity of a true adventurer."

Next, he displayed images of my arrival in El Salvador. The scenes captured the moment I hitched a ride to the bustling center of San Salvador, with its effervescent streets and a heat that seemed to permeate every frame.

"And here, in El Salvador. You sent this from the bus station," he continued, as an audio played my vibrant voice, passionately describing the complexity and vivacity of the place.

The following images were a visual chronicle of each subsequent stage: my journey to the Guatemalan border, where I spent the night before boarding a van to the immigration point. A video showed me obtaining my visa with a mix of relief and determination, and soon after, the van dropping me off in the busy center of Guatemala.

"Here you board a Starbus bus, heading to the Mexican border in Malacatán," Marcos pointed out, showing an image of me entering the bus.

Upon arriving in Malacatán, a photo captured the exact moment I negotiated with local smugglers. Without the need for a prior Mexican visa, I had invested about $450 to secure a legalized crossing.

"In Tapachula, your first stop in Mexico," he paused on an image of me at a bus station, the fatigue visible but relieved to have crossed yet another border. "You faced several police checkpoints, but stayed firm, thanks to your documents being in order."

Marcos played a recording of me detailing the bus trip to Veracruz and then my flight to Monterrey, a metropolis closer to the American border.

"And finally, Nuevo Laredo," he showed a video of me, breathless, the camera shaking as I ran towards the bush beside the river marking the border. "Determined, you were resolute in making this crossing by swimming, wishing to experience every moment intensely."

The last video before my detention captured an almost surreal scene. The camera pointed at a densely starry night sky, and my voice, though breathless and broken by physical effort, narrated the intensity of the moment.

"The adrenaline is palpable, and the fear... the fear is real," I said, trying to stay calm as the cold, dark waters of the river enveloped me, making each word a struggle. The river, fifty meters wide, seemed more like an impassable ocean. The recent rain had made the current stronger and more unpredictable.

As I progressed, the heavy backpack on my back became an unsustainable burden. Each movement was a battle against the weight dragging me down. My body, already exhausted, screamed for relief. With a resigned sigh, I realized I couldn't continue the crossing with that extra weight.

"I can't take everything with me," I murmured to the camera. With a gesture, I released the straps and pushed the backpack away. The loss of equipment, supplies, and personal belongings was necessary.

"If I can get through this, I can face anything," I spoke into the camera.

Finally reaching the other bank, shivering and barely able to stand, I turned off the camera.

"And then... silence. Your next communication was from Texas, informing that you had been detained. It was a tough 10 days," concluded Marcos, sympathy resonating in his voice.

These images and sounds stirred something deep within my consciousness, but it was as if a curtain still blocked access to my own memories. Each narrative, each image resonated like a distant echo, the story of a stranger being told to me.

"Marcos, this is all so surreal... It's like I'm revisiting someone else's adventure, not my own," my voice faltered, betrayed by emotion and bewilderment.

"It's a start, Fernando. I hope this helps to revive your memories. We'll continue exploring; we have more videos and messages to review. It's important that you understand what happened, so you can face and integrate these experiences," he replied, placing a comforting hand on my shoulder.


The days I spent in the hospital intertwined into a continuous sequence of discoveries and therapeutic sessions, with Marcos helping me to unravel the murky waters of my own history. Each new image or voice message seemed to ignite a spark in my memory, bringing flashes of recognition that began to form a clearer picture of my journey.

"Here, you were already in Boston," Marcos revealed, showing me a photograph in front of a series of historic monuments. "It seems you ventured to do some sightseeing before proceeding to Detroit."

"Yes, I vaguely remember..." the words slipped out as the image evoked diffuse memories of walking through the streets of Boston. "I was trying to absorb everything I had been through."

Marcos continued, presenting videos from Detroit, the city of cars and ruins that I explored with a curious gaze and a camera always in hand. As he explained, my fascination with urban ruins was not merely touristic but reflected a deeper search.

"You spoke intensely about the connections between abandoned places and marginalized people, about how both face the struggle to maintain their dignity in the face of oblivion," he commented, pausing a video where I discussed the topic, with a building in ruins in the background.

"It seems you were beginning to weave your travel experiences with more profound and significant issues."

Hearing myself speak with such passion about these themes, previously foreign to me, was disconcerting. However, something inside me responded to these words, as if they awakened a dormant part of my essence.

The conversation then turned to the incident with the Subaru. Marcos, cautiously, displayed a recording from the police and testimonies from witnesses describing how I was found unconscious.

"The chemical accident was a misfortune, Fernando."

"Yes, you may be right."

On my last day in the hospital, as I prepared to leave the room, a mix of relief and apprehension overtook me. The world outside seemed immense and intimidating, but I was determined to face it with a new perspective.

"Thank you, Marcos. Without your guidance, I would still be lost in more than one sense," I thanked him, extending my hand to him.

"It was an honor to help you, Fernando. But we'll continue to keep in touch. I still want that interview. As soon as you're completely recovered."

"Definitely, Marcos!"

With those words, I left the hospital. Aware that there was still much to discover about myself and the world, now armed with the memories of where I had been and the hope of what I could still discover, I was ready to continue exploring both frontiers with new understanding.

12 Mai 2024 12:37 1 Rapport Incorporer Suivre l’histoire
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A propos de l’auteur

Samuel A. Palmeira Observar la realidad y describirla creativamente es como mirar las sombras en la caverna de Platón, buscando capturar la esencia última de las formas ideales a través de la lente de nuestra existencia terrenal, uniendo así lo divino con lo humano en un acto de creación que refleja la luz inmutable de la verdad eterna. (Samuel Palmeira)

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