A millionaire tour in a fake taxi
Arequipa, Peru, 5ht August 2009
Did you ever feel like leaving your body and reaching the state where somebody else is speaking through you? Have you experienced the moment that you know you are going to die, quickly revising your life? Did you ever feel fully alive, as you realized that you are having a second chance? Did you feel like you are part of a game but you are not enough informed to understand the entire big picture? Have you ever thought that you could have been set up, when the logic knows it is impossible but your heart can smell the trap? Then listen to this story.
As I arrived to Arequipa in the evening I checked into the hostel and decided to revise the nearest gringo club with the crossover music. It was one of these clubs where you go when you travel alone, usually because there is nobody in the hostel to talk to and you wish to meet new locals and maybe few foreigners. I ordered a drink or a beer cant remember well, and while I standing next to the bar I spotted the beautiful Peruan girl smiling to me. She had long straight dark hair and an angelic face. She was also well dressed as for a student. We started a small talk. She was flirting with me and I knew I wanted to see her again. We exchanged numbers and next day I texted her to see each other. As my Spanish was quite poor at that time texting was the best way to communicate with the locals. It gives you time to read, translate, learn new vocabulary and answer before making a double-check.
The next day we went for a kind of date to the cocktail bar next to the hostel. I ordered two glasses of wine, the bar was quite empty and she knew the owner. I realized that Arequipa must be quite a small town. She also told me about her ex boyfriend from Ireland, that she had met when she had been living in Europe and learning English. She explained that they had not understood each other and she had decided to come back to Peru. Although their relationship has ended her ex had asked her to come to Ireland once again for his brother wedding. She decided to give it a try. I was listening to this story with the eyes open, admiring her mestizo face and long beautifully straighten hair. She was wearing white top made of smooth material and tide jeans. I must say she looked very pretty that night. I told her about my lonely life in London and my plans for the future. I was trying to sound like a successful guy that made good money but decided to look for something deeper in life. This kind of sensitive, genuine guy that we man believe women admire.
Once we were having a chat I tried to kiss her but she turned the face. As we talked she said she was going the next day to Lima but asked me if I would like to have a breakfast with her family the next morning. I thought it was a great idea. I paid for two glasses of wine and asked for a taxi. I took her back home, which was pretty close from my hostel; about 5 min drive at night. After she left I went to the bar for another drink, met somebody, danced and went back home very late accompanied by another local girl. I was playing the evil and I knew it. No compromise, no regrets.
The next day I was awaken by the sms on my phone “Hi, Filip, we are waiting for a breakfast for you. Are you coming?“ Although it was already 11am I was motivated to see her again before she leaves to Lima. As I could have not called her I asked her so she text her address to my phone so I can catch the taxi and be at her place in 30min. She suggested that I pass the phone to the taxi driver so she can explain him how to get to her house. I said to the girl from last night that I have to leave so we left my room. I went to the nearby shop to charge my phone, came back to the hostel front doors and looked for the taxi.
There was a line of yellow Fiat taxis slowly moving forward, I found the empty with the blue lights and moved in. I called Carolina and ask the driver to talk to her about the direction. They had a small chat, which I did not understand and he passed the phone to me.
- “Filip, remember, do not pay more then 6 Soles for the ride”. – She said.
I was feeling calmed, waiting to see her and her family. Always ready for adventure. Family invitation was a good sign. We were driving through the city and after 15 min of ride I realized that we must be going to the other house than the last night. I asked the drive is he did not make a mistake with the direction. He said:
- “Can you see this red house? It is there”.
My 6xt sense was trying to tell me that something is weird in the air but a little bit too late. Two aggressive guys jumped in to the taxi at the back seat holding me from both sides. One of the guys closed my eyes with his elbow and the other started punching me in my legs yelling:
- ”Where is your money, where is your card?”
I thought it might be the last day in my life. I considered two options: one was a hero option that I had known from the movies and the second the peaceful one known from the wise books. I decided to negotiate as they probably had knives and guns. Both guys and taxi driver were about 30-35 years old, short and thick as most of the indigenes from this region. They smelled with a weird odor that made me scared. It felt like a drug that I had no idea about. I was wondering what had they wanted: My wallet? My money in the Natwest? My parents ´money or maybe my life. Or possibly all of them. I had a vision of the news: “Polish tourist found dead near Arequipa”, “Polish tourist hike jacked in Peru, the robbers ask for 1.000.000 US dollars the family. “This is where the story on the road ends” “Backpacking is not safe anymore” “Don’t travel unless you have a guide”.
As the guy on my left side was holding me with his elbow I was able to see that we had already passed the city suburbs. I saw volcanoes, big mountains with the snowy picks and the fields of grass. Yes my friend, we were pretty much far away. I started to pray very quickly in Polish “Jesus Christ…”. As mantra was sounding in my head I moved my spirit to another dimension, I practically left my body and had no muscles. They woke me up:
- “Motherfucker where is your wallet?” – One guy screamed while the other was punching my leg with his fist.
- “Amigos, the wallet is in here” – I pointed out my left packed while keeping a calmed voice, as I was talking to my good friends.
They took my wallet opened it up and checked what was inside. Well not much as I never take my passport nor the credit cards with me. Couple of Peruan Soles in the wallet worth no more then 20 USD, some hostel cards, addresses, notes, and fake 200 Boliviarianos, that a bloody taxi driver had given me one night in Sucre when I was looking for the motel 4 am in the morning. I had been in a hurry I had not checked the money so I had kept the fake paper cash to remember to be careful the next time. Not anymore, guys took my wallet with fake Bolivian cash. I don`t know what happened to me but I politely asked them:
- “Amigos, can you please leave me 3-4 Soles so I can come back to the hostel with the taxi?” – Again I was acting naturally as they were my old good friends.
They looked at me and kept on talking Peruan slang so I cannot understand. All I could grasp from the conversation that they were quite nervous and looking for a spot to leave me or kill me. Seeing my empty walled they screamed:
- “Motherfucker, is this all? Where is your phone, bustard?” – They were slightly irritated.
- “It is on the left pocked my friend” – I answer politely.
They took it out. It was old worthless Nokia as I was never traveling with the smart phone at that time. I asked them:
- “Guys, can you please leave me my simcard, please?” – I could not believe what I was doing. The voice coming out from my mouth was not mine. I was feeling the presence of some kind of angels.
They opened the phone, then checked again my pocket or put back my simcard. I did not know exactly what had happened. After few minutes they stopped the taxi on the corner of the wooden house, asked me to leave quickly without looking back and lying down on the dusty road with the hands over my eyes. As they were screaming something in Spanish I thought it was last second of my life. Strange but I was kind of sad but fulfilled at the same time. At the end my life was great until now. I was traveling the world, living my dream. I was imagining how it feels to be shot on the back in Peru. Does it hurt? How is it to be on the other side of the life? Can I fly up high seeing me and people around from the birds view? Will I be invisible, what about my parents, my friends? Can they hear me?
The taxi left, I looked up, touched the sandy ground with my palms, slowly stood up not believing what had happened. I was alone in the middle of nowhere fully alive! I survived! I looked around and I found out that the nearest house was in a distance of 500 meters. I could have not seen the proper road to come back home. I automatically checked my pocked and what I found was 4 Soles and a phone simcard.