On the international bus going from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Mancora, Peru, I had the miss fortune of sitting next to one of those annoying, know-it-all American missionary, who was dead certain that I was going to be killed in Peru.
Him and his large family, with all of their 10 huge suit case, had been in Lima for 6 months doing missionary work for their Mormon church, and were completely convinced that Peru was the most evil place on Earth. They could not understand what I would be doing visiting Peru alone and with hardly any luggage or knowledge of Spanish, and were convinced I needed their precious guidance to survive. When I told them that it was my first time in Peru, then assumed it was my first time ANYWHERE, so during the whole trip I was constantly barraged with ”advice”, on how to survive such a heathen, evil country.
The Ecuador and Peru border crossing was pretty painless, and soon we were back in our seats heading south. I was settled into my seat, listening to the latest wave of survival skills, from this family who had never been anywhere in the world besides Salt Lake City, Utah, and Lima, Peru, until they had to cross into (also evil) Ecuador for the weekend for visa reasons. “Don’t go out at night” “Don’t go out during the day”. “Don’t go out on the streets alone”. “Don’t talk to strangers”. Pretty much all the things I was planning on doing as soon as I got off this damn bus.
Then we got robbed. Though I was being distracted by annoying people, I HAVE been around the block, and knew that Peru did have a mean streak once in a while, just like anywhere in Latin America, so I was still aware of my surroundings. At a stop light, I saw 2 guys jump on the bus rather agressively, and start talking to the driver. This scenario is exactly what a friend had told me about happening to her, so I sprang into action.
First thing I did was to hide my wallet and passport underneath the seat cover on the empty seat in front of me. Then I kicked my backpack containing my laptop and camera, onto the floor and two seats up, underneath an old lady that was carrying a bunch of house-hold junk with her. I knew that I would be searched a little extra, since I was one of the only foreigners, and I doubted they would search the poor old local lady much.
After they got done with the missionaries, who I might add where totaly convinced that this was their last day on Earth, the robber (only one, the other stayed with the driver) turned his gun my way and yelled something in Spanish. I figured it meant “gimme”, so I pulled out my trusty fake wallet and handed it over. They look for more stuff under my seat and in the overhead rack, but were happy enough when they saw the contents of my wallet.
My fake wallet is this: It’s a wallet with about $10 in singles in it, and a bunch of old credit cards. None of the cards are active of course, but they look really enticing to a thief who is in a hurry. They got 2 expired credit cards, a Safeway card, a library card and a bunch of singles, that looks like a lot of money. It is really handy to have if you ever get robbed, because then you have something worthless to offer instead of you real money. I was also happy to see that they had missed my backpack as well.
With a big bag of goodies, the robbers got off at the next stop, making away with a ton of presents from the missionaries. They lost 3 laptops, a ton of money, 2 nice cameras and who-knows what else.When they asked how much I lost, and demanded I go to the police with them, they were half appalled, and half annoyed that I only lost $10 and an old wallet. They’re only consolation was that they could now say -I told you so- to me about how evil Peru was. My guess is that after they had a long and worthless talk with the un-helpful police, they went straight to the airport and flew back to Utah. I on the other hand am going to Machu Picchu!
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