The Door

Getting Robbed In Guatemala City

On Sunday night, my last night in Guatemala, I went out to meet Conie, someone I met through couchsurfing. She is a journalist and seemed really interesting. I was looking forward to meeting her.

The Street

The Street

The plan was to meet at the entrance of the Palacio Nacional (National Palace) in Central Park. She came and we went back to her place. She needed to change since she spent the day near the coast in a much warmer part of Guatemala.

When we arrived she put the key in the door. We were talking and not paying too much attention to our surroundings. A guy on a motorcycle came up and said “buenes noches!” He started talking and I assumed he was a friend of Conie’s.

He kept his voice very low and he spoke very fast. I tried hard, but I understood pretty much nothing he was saying.

Well, as I focused all my energy into hearing what he was saying, I realized a second later that Conie was already kind of far away and was yelling a bit and running away. It was one of those situations where I didn’t really know what to do. In an instant, the conditions of the situation changed completely. Talking among friends turned into something dangerous.

So I ran after her and we went inside a restaurant. She was very shaken and I was trying to figure out what was going on. I never really got butterflies in my stomach or nervous since I had no idea what was going on. The robber left once I started running away.

The Door

The Door

The owners of the restaurant closed the door and called the police. While we waited for the police, she told me that the guy on the motorcycle tried to rob me. He said “Dame tus chivas!” I didn’t hear that, but even if I had, I didn’t know the meaning of the word chivas. As far as I know, Chivas is a Mexican soccer team and a brand of Scotch. But in Guatemalan slang, it means “things.” So he wanted my backpack and my money, phone, etc.

While Conie was running away, but before I realized she was running away, I was staring intently at this guy trying to understand him. Since I thought he was talking to Conie, I didn’t interrupt to ask for anything to be repeated or for him to speak more slowly. That probably helped a lot. He probably just thought that I had balls made of steel, staring down a robber and not being intimidated at all. I may be the luckiest, dumbest, and most confident robbery victim of all time 🙂

In reality, I had no idea what was going on 🙂 But it was strange, because he stayed on the motorcycle. To give him my stuff, I would have had to take a few steps forward to hand it to him. I don’t think he had a gun, or at least he didn’t show one. Had he pulled out a gun, the whole situation would have been different and I wouldn’t be writing this right now because my computer would have been stolen. Instead, nothing was stolen and I have an interesting story 🙂

There was a second guy on a motorcycle who went by while this was happening. They probably work as a team in some way.

We stayed in the restaurant for a few minutes and the police, surprisingly, arrived about 5 minutes after calling. We explained everything and then went to Conie’s place. We relaxed for a while and talked about what happened, etc.

We decided to forget what happened and go out and have a great evening. We walked down 6th Avenue looking for a place to eat, but everything closes early on Sunday night. So we ended up going somewhere else where we had some amazing street food. We talked a lot and had a nice time.

Conie was nice enough to drop me off at the friend’s house where I was staying. Originally I was planning to take the bus, but then I’d have to walk about 10 minutes from the bus station to his house in the dark. Given what happened earlier, it was best to minimize risk. You can only be lucky so many times!

I think I experienced Guatemala appropriately. It is 99% awesome and wonderful, and 1% unsafe and scary. And that summarizes my time there. Sadly, that 1% gets a lot of attention and the people who live in Guatemala deal with the stress that insecurity inevitably causes. But the people are wonderful, and I choose to remember Guatemala for the nicest guy in Guatemala City and not this guy who tried to rob me.

19 replies
  1. Amanda Williams
    Amanda Williams says:

    You’re absolutely right that it’s usually that measly 1% of “unsafe and scary” stuff that gets all the attention, thereby giving the whole country an air of being a risky place to travel. It’s a shame, really.

    I’m glad that you didn’t actually get robbed, though! I guess in this instance it actually paid off to not understand the local language!

  2. Antoinette B.
    Antoinette B. says:

    That’s actually a funny experience, in a not kinda way.  Glad to know you didn’t get fully robbed!  There are soooo many “dangerous” places in this world, but if we listen to fear, we will never get to explore the beauty of the place.  A coworker of mine was suggesting we do some volunteer work in the foothills of Guatemala (We’re nurses); we’re still waiting for the organization to get back to us but hopefully we get to go soon!

    • Adam Pervez
      Adam Pervez says:

      Thanks for the comment! I hope you get to go as well! Guatemala is beautiful and so interesting. And yes, this could have happened anywhere in the world. You are right. But from what I was told, outside of Guatemala City is safe and I had no problems in San Andres Itzapa, Xela, or Antigua. Let me know if you make it there!

  3. Britany
    Britany says:

    If that were to ever happen to me (knock on wood) I probably wouldnt have any idea I was being robbed either. I’m in Colombia and my spanish is terrible! Glad you made it out of that situation unscathed and with all our your belongings intact!


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