I always knew it was risky.
After fourteen months of relatively incident free, midnight dog walking, I suppose I’ve rode my luck a little. Well I know I have. The longer you travel the more likely you are to be a victim of crime. And mine was just around the corner.
Previous close calls included:-
The James Bond baddie (lookalike) from Live and Let Die, busking a clarinet in Asheville NC;
The wrestling-mask wearing giant stalker in San José Costa Rica;
The loon in New York City shouting about kidnapping my dog and taking him to Sicily, Italy to be shot;
The man in Miami wielding a machete shouting in Swahili (or something) like a deranged Witch Doctor, at anyone and everything;
The cowboy-clad Floridian who quizzed me as to whether I was Hispanic or Caucasian,
AND, the various nocturnal animals of the tropics such as crocodiles, scorpions, spiders, poisonous toads, mosquitoes, giant fruit rats to name but a few… all adding to the gayety of walking at night.
But last night was the most dangerous, and (almost) life threatening. It left me with an adrenaline tremor like I’d been on the booze for a week, and a prison suntan whiter than newly painted emulsion.
It’s getting busier in this part of Mexico as shops and restaurants begin to re-open after a month long holiday. The rainy season is drawing to a close and the trickle of tourists streams to a steady flow.
Dollars (Canadian and American) fill the pockets of those who arrive. Many stay here for six months, snow birds they call them, flocking South to avoid the freezing winters of the North. And so out of the woodwork creep those who wish to rob and unlawfully share in a bit of wealth re-distribution.
$1 equals 20mxn pesos and is roughly the cost of a beer. For 50mxn pesos 40 litres of bottled drinking water can be yours, and you can purchase an entire meal with drink from a taco stand for the same. Poverty is all around and a potentially rich tourist may be seen as easy prey.
Last night I became the target of such villainous endeavours as I walked Hamish on his last outing of the night.
We left the apartment slightly earlier than usual. There were still people about. Mexicans start later in the morning and work later at night than we do in Scotland. Many were waiting patiently at bus stops or making for home on foot after a busy day. Shutters were pulled down as shops, restaurants and bars closed for the day. Tourists walked in groups, cars sped by on dusty cobbled roads and taxis sounded their horns touting for business in one last fabled attempt at a fare before close of play.
Me? I was just dawndering along in no particular hurry and without a care in the world. Dog in tow…..
Hamish led me to the river, one block from home, and sniffed about the banks as I sat on a broken paving slab watching him. Between the river bank and the street there’s a separating wall, about four foot high (a gap in the wall leads you in and out). From my vantage point or, Stone of Destiny I can sit like the King of Scots with one eye on the world and the other on the mischievous Hamish.
But Hamish wasn’t the only one out for mischief, and from nowhere a young Mexican chap was soon at my side, quietly and calmly demanding I hand over all my dinero and whatever valuables I had – I’m European so my pockets must be full?
Suddenly the streets were empty, my eyes like an Action Man doll switching from left to right to centre as I worked out my next move. I told him there was no denero and it best he tawddle on. After all, who has their wallet with them at that time of night whilst walking the dog?
Convinced I had money, out from his waistband came a switchblade knife and slowly and with all the menacing composure and assurance of someone who’d done this before, he walked towards me with a perilous glint in his dark, soulless eyes.
With the bandito blocking the exit gap in the wall, four feet became a minor step and I was over the stone cladding like an Olympic hurdler, creating a barrier between myself and the bad-ass young Zorro. He followed.
But I was going nowhere. With no money or white handkerchief in which to surrender and with the swordsman of my apocalypse advancing with his scalped blade reflecting the moonlight, I chose to stand my ground . This was maybe in the hope that somebody would pass, but happier I was also out of the tight spot by the river and under the gaze of street lights.
Hamish at this stage was still pottering about the river, but like a loyal dog sensing danger he was soon at my side.
The swashbuckling, hooded chevalier realising he was in open territory with the odds evening up stood for a moment giving me a steely glare straight out of a B movie spaghetti western. He then slid the makeshift claymore into his scabbard and disappeared into the shadows from which he came, empty handed. From me anyway!
Bravery, stupidity or fear? Who knows? Probably all three, but it’s not easy to get money out of a Scotsman and the young Robin Hood, acting like the Sheriff of Nottingham, was always onto a loser…. Perhaps tonights walk I’ll be more careful. Who knows, I may even carry a Blankety Blank checkbook and pen to give to this back street surgeon, should we meet again. I’ll keep you posted….
Of course, this could’ve happened anywhere, in any city or town anywhere in the world and hasn’t altered my view of Mexico. Still love it