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 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 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.