Guatemala, Lago Atitlan, Bandito

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by gravitygreg, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. gravitygreg

    gravitygreg n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9
    The southern access to San Pedro through Santiago Atitlan on the south side of Lago Atitlan is a bad route. The northern route through Panajachal is beautiful and I had no problems. Back in July 2010. I was robbed at gun point on a steep dirt road hill, some 10 km past Santiago Atitlan, just meters before the asphalt started again on route to San Pedro. It happened on a steep dirt hill climb beside a coffee plantation on the south side of the lake just 5 km before San Pedro. Apparently this is an infamous place for robberies but I was totally unaware.

    I was totally oblivious to what was going on. At first I thought that the guy who jumped out of the plantation was a police officer as he was wearing combat boots navy blue pants and a black balaclava.

    It was two hours before dark, and that day I crossed the El Salvador border into Guatemala in the searing heat. I was totally tired and when the guy pulled out a hand gun I thought that he was doing so because I wasn`t stopping immediately. As it happened he was actually a robber and he was pretty smart to hold me up on a steep dirt hill climb so that when I was forced to stop I began slipping down hill with the front brake on doing the flintstones walk backwards.

    The guy put away the gun and opted for his machette and demanded cash. I pulled out the trusty fake wallet and gave him the equivalent of 80 bucks US which totally sucked because I forgot to put away some of the US dollars left over from El Salvador. He followed that up with pushing the bike over which totally pissed me off as the tank was now facing down hill. At this point I knew that he was about to rob me of all my possessions and leave me on the side of the road. Gas was leaking out of the bike and the guy was trying to rip my GPS off the ram mount. I totally bitch slapped his hand away from the mount because I was delerious and thought that I needed the GPS more than he did. Next, he went for the tank bag repeating the words Camera, & Passport. I said No and Karate chopped his hand away from the tank bag and demanded that he help me lift the bike. ``SENIOR ...ADIER ME!!`

    He began holding the machette up over me and I was too stunned to flinch or react which I think startled him a bit. He lurched at me three times. I knew that he was out of range to slice me and I was wondering why he was suggesting that he would cut me but be that far away. He hesitated for a moment and then ran up beside me to cut my tent and thermarest off the bike by slashing the bungee cords before making off into the coffee plantation. As he was running away I yelled at him to ``get back here`` to help me lift the damn bike. I was pissed because he was like 20 years old and totally bluffed me tricking me into forking out my limited cash and also getting away with my camping gear. He noticed a dog trotting down the hill and this apparently indicated that someone was coming. An old man with two young kids came along and helped me lift the bike. Moments later the police that I passed in the small town of Santiago Atitlan some 15 minutes prior came along to ticket me for passing them at a set of Topes. I explained with my heart in my throat that I`d just been robbed. Two of the 3 officers drew their guns and ran with me into the plantation to where I last saw the bandito. The officers were running slower than I was and I got so far ahead of them that I wondered if they`d mistake me for the bandito in the dense foilage. At this notion I realised that I was running after a guy with a machette and a gun all for 80 bucks and a moldy tent. I decided to give up chase and walk back to the road and head back to the bike where the 3rd officer took a statement about the denomination of cash that I handed over, and what the guy looked like etc.

    Anyhow I wasn`t that disturbed about the whole thing because he was the nicest robber that I ever could have encountered. He simply held up a gun, put it away, pulled out a machette which I was actually more afraid of because I don`t understand guns as well as big knifes and he followed it up with politely asking for stuff. He didn`t take anything I didn`t want him to take. It was weird for the next weeks after that, while sleeping in small towns where I was the only traveller. I was paranoid for the first time in my life after that, sleeping with open knifes and at the same time no longer afraid of exploring, just alot more aware and nervous....its hard to describe. The rest of Central and South America was a breeze. Ride on and enjoy the scenery.


    www.toquesonmoto.blogspot.com

    Greg George
    #1
  2. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,154
    Location:
    San Antonio
    :thumb

    Simply outstanding blog report in every way possible :bow
    #2
  3. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    25,130
    Location:
    out and about
    I can't find the old thread about this road.
    Any help?

    Yes, excellent post
    Sorry this happened.
    Somebody, eventually, will take these guys out.
    And it will be done and over, finished.
    #3
  4. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,154
    Location:
    San Antonio
    You might be thinking about Daveg's RR and especially this post in it. Pretty much the same general area on the south/southwest side of the lake.
    #4
  5. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    722
    Location:
    Bellingham, Washington
    Greg, somehow you manage to find trouble where all I can locate is smooth, effortless riding! I don't know how you do it. No Venezuelans leveled weapons at me, no crazed thieves with machetes had to be bought off with throwdown wallets, no nutcase captains of leaky boats cussed me out.....hell, I never even caught dengue or other life-threatening diseases. My life is so tremendously boring by contast!

    Mark

    (from Bellingham, just a few blocks from home, where I just spoke to the Kawasaki dealership about warranty claims on my KLR--rather road-weary now at 93,000 miles/150,000 km--and to my shock they seemed to think they could get me some major engine work for free)
    #5
  6. daveg

    daveg no longer homeless

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    KC MO
    http://www.gsomething.com/blog/2008/08/29/my-exact-location-of-the-robbery/

    From that post:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=14.621,-91.2599&ie=UTF8&ll=14.624365,-91.263471&spn=0.008679,0.021973&t=k&z=16


    That is exactly where I was robbed, as deduced from my track log. Looking at the sat image, I remember it being a little bit up the road from those houses.

    There's another thread on a guatemalan moto forum about three guys who fit my incredibly vague description were lynched by the locals for working that road.
    #6
  7. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,566
    Location:
    Alaska

    :rofl Mine too.
    #7
  8. gravitygreg

    gravitygreg n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9
    Congratulations on completing your epic ride Mark. Thats quite a total milage you racked up buddy.

    Yeah, I seemed to attract trouble which accounted for about 8 minutes total duration in the 245 days that I was gone. Despite the epic 8 minutes, it was an awesome trip, even the dengue fever, which I've already forgotten that I had because I'm young and healthy perhaps. I do have a theory, however, as to how you evaded the nasty guys I did not. It all had to do with your awesome beard! You had natural defense's from mosquito's, looked like Castro to the Venezuelans, and perhaps convinced the Lago Atitlan bandito into thinking you were a local hitman. Acting as a true Canadian, I just seemed to be polite about handing over my monetary resources to the opportunistic grabber who saw my bright Canadian flag . All kidding aside, I joke about the experiences so as to see the bright side of it all.

    For instance, if asked in conversation about the incident at Atitlan, I claim that the Bandito simply had a great weekend with my tent and 80 bucks USD, which I hope, in the end, still encourages people to go to these places anyhow despite the petty problems. Of course for weeks afterward I'd relive the situation, imagining that I'd kick his ass next time etc. But, at the time you don't have the gift of hindsight. As well, had I fought him it may have turned out kind of badly for one of us. As for the yacht Captain, I hugged Leonardo and saw his bright side at the end of the sail, especially after he told me that he thought I was much smarter than he pegged me for at the beginning of the sail. Leonardo is a fiery dude, and to be called a piece of shit by him is a great complement as he recognizes you for something at very least.

    I joked with the Venezuelan Military check point man about whether or not he could hit a moving target with a hand gun after I accidently refused to stop at his check point, just after I pulled a u-turn. He realized that my spanish was horrible and he handed back my passport and wished me well. Looking into the barrel of a hand gun for the first time was interesting though.

    After missing my first boat out of Cartagena due to the dengue fever which I contracted hiking through the Jungles and beaches of Park Tyrona, I got to experience Cartagena for two weeks. Here, I semi-befriended all the drug dealers on the streets who hover in front of the hostels in old town and made them all aware that I was a supporter of hugs, not drugs. The little homo-phobiacs would squeel and run away giddy at the response to their repetitive question of "what do you need mon, I got it, don't hesitate, I'm the big mon, What do you NEED? They'd usually would walk in close and then one day after about a week of pestering I leaned into a guy and bearhugged him and said "I need a hug man". It was so funny! Everyone, (including the dealers) on the street laughed their asses off. Besides, it was true, I was lonely after 8 months.

    I came to realize sometime after Argentina that everyone I encountered in these countries had a heart of gold and were willing to go well out of their way for anyone willing to open themselves up (Alex Reis, Javier at Dakar Moto's, Roberto Andara, Countless people in Brazil, Alex in Peru. The list is long). I stayed at peoples houses, once rode late into the night by accident only to be rescued by a well meaning local who let me pitch my tent in his family's yard Etc.

    This ride was absolutely one the best experience's of my life and I hope to only encourage others to head out as well, meet the people, see the land, taste the food, smell the air, see the stars, see the wildlife and feel what it feels like to be scared, or lonely, problem solve, and in the end become a better person for it all.

    Greg George
    www.toquesonmoto.blogspot.com
    #8
  9. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,566
    Location:
    Alaska
    Thats freaking classic right there. :lol3
    #9
  10. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan aka SkiddMark ;^)

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    13,102
    Location:
    Austin, Tx.
    :bow
    #10
  11. NA2SA

    NA2SA Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    57
    gravitygreg,

    I saw a pic in your blog and I wanted to share a pic of the same spot, taken by me when I was 7yo....some 32 years ago!

    First pic, Puente del Inca; circa 1978
    Second pic, Puente del Inca; 2010

    na2sa

    EDIT: well...never mind, I can't load the pics. I'll keep trying
    EDIT 2 : although I made the files weight onky 24kb....the upload window keeps denying it....
    #11
  12. steingar

    steingar higher life form

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,225
    Location:
    Midgard
    There used to be a rebel army in those hills, but years ago they made peace with the government, so now there are just tons of armed bandits. A friend of mi hermano's was riding his bike down the center of town of St. Attitlan (if I recall correctly) when a robber came and demanded his bike. The guard at the bank saw, and opened fire with his automatic weapon. The thief fired back. At the end of the gun fight the guard was dead, my brother's fried was hit in the lag, and the unhurt thief made off with the bike.

    I myself would not venture off main roads in that part of the world, a bit too easy to get hurt otherwise. but I am older and somewhat more destructible these days.
    #12
  13. daveg

    daveg no longer homeless

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    789
    Location:
    KC MO
    Here are the pics:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. NA2SA

    NA2SA Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    57
    Thanks daveg!!!

    look at the sediment build up on the right side of the 2010 pic, compared to the one from 1978.

    na2sa
    #14