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Day 149 Cartagena, Colombia: Got Mugged, sort of

The bus got me into Cartagena mid-afternoon. The timing was right on schedule. There was just enough time in the day for a quick Hotel search and then I would be settled in for the night. Cartagena can be basically broken down into two sections. The Old town which consists of the the walled city (surrounded by a rock fort,) and the tourist section of Boca Grande/El Laguito. The backpacker area with the cheap hotels was in the Old town. I wanted to skirt the edge of the backpacker scene so I opted for the little more pricey area of El Central. Well, it turns out that there are only a handful of hotels in the area and they are extremely expensive. I wandered the streets until it got dark and what many would consider very dangerous. With everything I owned on my back, I gave up and hailed a taxi. I decided to stick with the guidebook and headed over to the Getsemani area. The place is in a shit hole area, but the rooms go for $5. I had stayed in worse, so it worked out fine.

Okay, on to the mugging. Well, if you have followed this blog or know me, one of my challenges on this trip is to get mugged. I have even traveled to a country to test the waters, Georgetown, Guyana. Pretty much have struck out the entire time. I have wandered through some really bad parts of town in pretty much every city that I have been and nothing. Well, tonight I did something right in two regards. For one, I left my watch at the hotel. Usually, I donít bother, but for some reason I just didnít put it on. Secondly, I didnít think about it/try. I wandered through the Parque del Centenario just checking out the old city. The usual bunch of bums, hookers, and glue/crack heads were out and about. It was actually fairly cool that night so I took a seat on a bench in the middle of the park. A guy came trying to sell one of the Colombian string bracelets. Itís a good scam because they tie it on you and say its because they want to be your friend, and then they hit you up for a gift since they gave you one. Well, I deflected the offer and sent the guy packing. Well, the guy was apparently smarter than I thought because ten seconds later a guy plops himself down next to me. He is your usual scammer looking guy. I blow him off with the usual chatter about being a Japanese Gringo and such. He then starts talking about guns and pistoleros. He hints at me to look down as he has a barrel pointed into my ribs. I had always thought that I would handle it in one of three ways. One would be to kill the guy. Two, would be to cry and pee on myself, or three would be to hand over my wallet and give up. Well, at that precise moment I didnít freak out. The usual Steve kicked in and I did what I do best. I manipulated him. As soon as it happened I started asking off the wall questions. The first was what the name of the park was. He then went into a dissertation on how he either uses a gun or fights with tourists and then takes their money. I then ask about what discotechs are around and if they are very popular on the week days. This kind of shakes him out of the robbery mind set and he starts telling me about a cool club not too far away and how we should go check it out. Once I had him answering questions it was then just a constant flow of questions about him, Cartagena, sports, women, etc. Finally, when I had him in a calm state, I just popped up and grabbed his hand to shake it and told him that I was tired and it was time for me to go to bed. I started walking away and he said something and pointed at his neck like he had a gun. I knew he was saying that he was going to get me, but I just blew it off like he was saying goodnight and I told him to have a good night and that I would see him the next day. From there I just walked away. When I looked back he was just sitting there kind of stunned. With that, I almost got mugged.



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