Friday, September 25, 2009

A post I don't want to write

I don’t want to write this post, but if I’m going to tell you about Chiclayo I’ve got to tell you about the downside as well. Last night a friend was mugged and robbed.

Three of us expat gringos were enjoying a night out over a few drinks at Hebron, a restaurant in central Chiclayo. We closed the place at 12:30am. One of the guys needed to go in the opposite direction and the other decided to walk a bit with me before taking a cab to his apartment. We walked about 1 mile when I told him we were entering an area where cabs are scarce so he had better take one now. We flagged a taxi, negotiated the price, and I watched them drive off. The driver quickly made a brief cell phone call and then stopped 4 blocks further when 3 men entered the cab, wrestled my friend outside and took everything he had, including his glasses. The men re-entered the cab and drove off.

I have to accept some blame for this. My friend is newly arrived in Chiclayo so has not yet developed street smarts. I should have insisted he take a cab from the restaurant instead of walking with me into a less traveled area. And as Maribel does when seeing someone off in a cab, I should have first stared at the driver and then walked around to the front of the cab to let him see me looking at the license plate. Or, I could have gotten into the cab with my friend and escorted him to his apartment. The instant the driver made the phone call I would have casually let him see the big knife I carry. That doesn’t guarantee the robbery wouldn’t have happened but they may have been reluctant to take on two of us; one with a weapon. I got careless and my friend paid the price.

I wish I could tell you the robbery was an isolated incident, but it was not. If you live here for any length of time and let your guard slip for one moment, it will happen to you. I think maybe I’ve grown too confident and cocky for my own good. Maribel thinks I have. She’s been robbed. Her son Brian has been robbed. Most of the people we know have been robbed. Sooner or later an attempt will be made to rob me. If they’ve got weapons I won’t resist. If not, we’ll see what happens. It’s not a great situation but it is part of everyday life. If you can’t deal with it you don’t belong here.



  1. I am sorry for your friend. It was better for all to write it down at you did. I have listened also about to much robers in the area. Still, is a good place if you learn to deal with those inconvinience once in a while. Hope your friend will be better soon.

  2. Tom,

    I'm sorry about this happening, but don't think you should feel guilty. Bad luck, but you haven't done anything wrong. All of Chiclayo is about the same in terms of safety after midnight, and we all have to be cautious.

    I believe that the real answer to this, in current circumstances, is having more people carry weapons. If on a few similar occasions robbers are shot dead on the spot, this would quickly and dramatically decrease the crime in Peru. Unfortunately, current legislation doesn't favor such a solution.

    Another solution could be an introduction of the capital punishment for kidnappings. Mexican Green Party is campaigning right now for such measure for Mexico, and if successful over there, it would be a good example for Peru.