So I Almost Murdered Someone Yesterday

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So I Almost Murdered Someone Yesterday in Guatemala

I wish this story wasn’t true. I wish I could step aside, forget it, make it go away or somehow fix it. But the world is not always pretty or neat and I’m not going to lie about that.

I’m in San Pedro, Guatemala in a hotel that I’ve stayed at before – been here a week this time. It’s been a couple of years and the staff has changed.

Pedro (irony, yes) seems to run the place now. He’s a friendly guy and we’ve had some rather silly conversations butchering each other’s language. I liked him.

Liked.

Around five in the evening, he taps on my door. In Spanish he asks “would you like an 8-year-old girl tonight?”

Convinced that I obviously must have misunderstood, I shake my head and say “Sorry — what?” In English he replies –with the ease of obvious practice– “Do you want an 8-year-old girl tonight? Eight.”

Okay, I’m not a ‘tough guy’ — I haven’t been in a physical fight since I was twelve. There’s very little macho in my heart but I immediately want to end him.

We’re on the third floor and there is a very short railing. A kick, a shove or a simple bump of the shoulder would put him over the edge. There is a moment where that seems like the right call and there is a flash of him in my mind sprawled, broken and bleeding on the concrete walkway thirty feet below.

(Okay, it’s more than a ‘moment’. It’s been 24 hours and I still think it was a good idea.)

My jaw clenches, and I go red both in flesh and vision. I wish I could describe the emotions I feel but in a way I’m glad I can’t. Rage and sadness don’t seem adequate.

I look down and see that my hands are already balled into fists. Hard-wired reptilian brain stuff: fight or flight. My body has gone there, but my brain hasn’t caught up.

I look back up and he’s halfway down the stairs trailing “lo sientos”. Sorry, sorry, sorry…

So now I have to admit to myself, as much as I hate to, that I seriously and honestly considered killing a fellow human being.

And that the only thing that stopped me was fear of ending up in a Guatemalan prison…

And that there isn’t a damn thing I can do for her.

{ 116 comments… read them below or add one }

Freya July 28, 2013 at 3:25 am

Omg that is so horrible. What kind of world do we live in? Maybe you can report him to an organization helping children in the area.
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Brenna July 28, 2013 at 3:55 am

OMG. this is horrible. what do they do to these kids!!!
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Christopher July 28, 2013 at 4:25 am

Oh my Lord. I have no idea what I would do in this situation. One has no idea how the police would react. They probably know all about it.
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Franca July 28, 2013 at 4:33 am

I’m speechless. Unfortunately we all know that children sex traffic is a reality, but dealing with it in person must have felt incredibly bad. :(
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Melissa July 28, 2013 at 5:07 am

Whoa. This also has me seeing red. I wonder if there is a local agency who might be helpful?
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Marina Salazar July 28, 2013 at 10:29 am

There are a few damn things you could do for her — file a report at the American Embassy and Consulate office; write reports of this incident, including name of hotel, Pedro’s name, and all pertinent facts to the State Department, U.S. Attorney’s Office, your Congresspersons and Senators, Amnesty International, the U.N., and any other organization that is working to end human trafficking. Keeping silent at these important levels only allows the problem to grow.

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Marysia @ My Travel Affairs July 29, 2013 at 1:33 am

After reading your post I have to admit I’m quiet glad that I’m a woman and such propositions do not fly my way, I would kill this man! I have no words for this. maybe there is sth that can be made, reported or at least someone can seriously beat him up in some dark alley!
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Ler July 29, 2013 at 2:13 am

This is terrible. How can we help? Is there any NGO to help them?
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Kevin July 29, 2013 at 8:57 am

Wow. Intense article, Wes. You said it yourself, “we’ve had some rather silly conversations butchering each other’s language.” Are you absolutely sure that this was an exception?
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wes August 7, 2013 at 10:10 am

I hoped so. When he repeated it in English, well… hard to deny it then…

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Dipti July 30, 2013 at 8:32 am

How horrid!
You have made the first step of publicizing what has happened rather than be disgusted and forget it the next morning – spread it as much as possible online (tho’ I’m not sure how active online forums are in Guatemala or around) and definitely do report it as others have mentioned. Courage & strength to you, cheers.

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Lise Griffiths July 31, 2013 at 3:20 am

Sickened. That is awful, and the worst thing is that it probably happens all the time. Kudos for keeping your cool. I hope Pedro has been reported no matter how bleak the possibilities of sorting the issue out. There are some wonderful charities and organizations out there who work tirelessly to put an end to suffering like this.
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Marta July 31, 2013 at 8:20 am

This is horrible. So much goes on in the world that we don’t even know about. And even if we do, we aren’t able to do too much about it. I am quite sickened and hurt at the thought of what happened to the girl that night.

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Penny August 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Sorry Wes. Sorry you didn’t kill him! Sorry the authorities know and maybe even care but are powerless or too spineless to change things. Sorry for girls who are used and abused as someone else’s meal ticket. Sorry. Sorry. So very sorry.

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Wrabbit007 August 7, 2013 at 10:55 am

Wes, I’m forwarding your article onto my sister-in-law who works in Canada for an NGO that works for women’s rights and freedoms. She might have some ideas or connections on how to help the situation. If she does, can I contact you for more details on the hotel and other facts?
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wes August 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Please do. I have a photo, name, hotel info and such. I’m trying to put it in as many hands as I can.

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Wrabbit007 August 8, 2013 at 6:02 pm

She gave me this place you can contact: http://www.covenanthouse.org/homeless-charity/guatemala Apparantely they are well-respected worldwide and can hopefully offer sanctity for the little one, if possible. I see you have gotten tons of responses with possible contacts – hopefully one of them works! Same thing is happening in Egypt, which is what my sister-in-law is working on currently. So sad…

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wes August 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Thank you.

VisitOurChina August 8, 2013 at 1:24 am

That makes me sick and angry, but I just cant do anything, either.

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Laura August 10, 2013 at 11:57 am

First word that comes in my mind after reading it is “Horrible”. But, you kept your patience that’s the only way getting out of such situation.

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Traci August 13, 2013 at 8:59 am

Welcome to the trafficking hub of central america…
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wes August 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I had no idea.

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Linell August 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I’m so angry right now I don’t even know where to begin. That little girl is just a tiny drop in the ocean here. I live in San Pedro and am incredibly frustrated at the attitude towards women and girls (Let’s face it: cocaine + machismo = badbadbad) but even more so at the way nobody wants to talk about it or deal with it.
I’ve been talking about my own experiences of sexual assault in this town and while it has elicited many responses about other women’s hair-raising experiences here (I know now of three rapes just in one hostel, for instance), it’s also been met with comments like ‘You must be doing something wrong,’ ‘Strange, it’s never happened to me or any of my friends’ (i.e. ‘You must be doing something wrong’), ‘You have the type of body that the men here go crazy for’ (i.e. ‘You must be doing something wrong’), ‘You’re too nice’ (i.e. ‘You must be doing something wrong’), ‘You don’t understand the culture’ (i.e. ‘You must be doing something wrong’) and ‘You shouldn’t talk about it because it gives San Pedro a bad name’.
Just the other day I had my ass grabbed by a man while I was walking my dog. He did this in front of a little boy. I couldn’t use my pepper spray because that stretch of path was rather alley-like but hopefully the boy will have learnt from my very angry reaction that it’s not OK to treat women and girls like this.
This rant turned out much longer than I’d intended. Thanks for sharing your story; I’ll keep sharing it as well. And will try to find a more proactive way to address these issues. The irony is that I come from the rape capital of the world but at least there we have many support systems, unlike here.

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Barbara August 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Read my comment please !
Was reading 3 to 4 times right now this article, he only cries about hisself, this ashole. He like to kill someone, what a joke !? He was not able (cowardly) to react legal and he did´nt like to help, or ???!!!
If you dont trust the police, you can still denounce in the Ministerio Publico (Santiago), go to a lawyer in the village (they dont take money for this infos) or go to the muni……there was something he could do for to help only this 1 girl if he really liked !!!!!?????
Stop this crying and demanding about histories like that……..do something !!

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Linell August 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Wes (or others reading this), I needed a few days to calm down from my blinding rage after reading your post and would really appreciate it if you could forward the contacts details of some agencies to contact as you find some, or at least maybe guide me in the right direction. I want to do something more constructive than screaming into the wind. I’m especially looking for agencies that work not only with child trafficking but with sexual or gender-based violence in general.

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wes August 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I’ve been doing the same. Some have replied, some not. Let me dig through my emails. I’m working on a follow-up post to update everyone on the status.

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wes August 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Ugh. I asked several people if they’d heard of such a thing and everyone said “nope, first time…. never happens”. Depressing. Also depressing to learn that the really narrow path is referred to as “Rape Alley”

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Linell August 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Now you see what head-in-the-sand mentality we’re up against. At times I feel like I’m losing my mind when I talk about these things (I believe getting it out in the open is the first step to doing something about it), as if people simply think I’m being a drama queen or that maybe I really have been imagining everything. And yes, the ‘funny’ name Rape Alley really says a lot, doesn’t it? Can’t wait to see the update and to find more constructive ways to becoming involved. Just because something happens everywhere in the world doesn’t mean it’s OK that it happens here.

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Barbara August 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Stupid guy, there is´nt nothing you can do for her…….in your article you only talk about you…….never heart about police or ministerio publico, lawyers (if you dont trust the police), also the mayor would hear what you needed to tell him or talk to the owner of the hotel (very easy to see on the picture, which hotel)……ohhhhh there is nothing what i can do for her……YOU COULD !!!
It seems you are a coward and only now how to cry about this bad things they happen in the whole world………at least YOU NEEDED TO DO SOMETHING LEGALY…..instead of writing…….you can feel guilty for her, that you did´nt do nothing. If someone knows about it, he needs to do something what stopps it, or ????!!!! You Know……and you could stopp this abusing sometimes only for 1 girl, if you realy liked……it would help her. I will do something you can be sure !!!!

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wes August 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I have forwarded the information and a photo to over a dozen agencies. I’m working on an update post but while I was in the town it wasn’t a good idea to do so.

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wes August 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Also, if you have any other contacts please list them. Or email them to me at wesnations@gmail.com

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Andie August 16, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Lol Barbara that was rude, if you payed attention to anything Wes wrote/writes about this either on here or his facebook, you would know that he’s not JUST writing about himself and forgetting about this little girl. Sometimes it’s not so easy and simple to help someone that very second, especially in a country where this is common and swept under the rug by people of power. You have to find the right contacts who will help her.

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wes August 16, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Thanks, Andie. Yeah, it was a tough spot — you can’t trust the local police. It’s a small town on the far side of a lake so you can’t escape quickly. And picking a fight with a local is never a good idea — they have friends. I’m in touch with several people who I hope might be able to help.

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Barbara August 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Guatemala has very good laws and they work fast for “woman delicts”
and this words:…..” fight with the locals is not a good idea,…”
what does it means ?? He is an adult man and if you like to save a child of 8 years……..what for he is scared ???? A lot of Mayan (local) father would stand beside him, they love their girls…….it´s not like in the islam here, we have still a lot of wonderful father´s and this Wes could go to the Muni or also a lawyer here,
he did´nt needed to denounce someone public. I will do it for him, after i know that this really happened…….live 11 years in San Pedro……still not scared for nothing and live 8 years as a single woman………..Guatemala has good laws and in the whole world of tourism this happens, but i´m sure that there is a great interes, that Guatemala will not be the second Thailand.

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wes August 16, 2013 at 10:43 pm

I don’t think you know what it’s like to be a gringo in Latin America. I’m doing everything I can to get this guy busted and am in touch with the US Embassy who seem to be taking it very seriously. Hopefully something good will come from that.

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Nat1927 August 17, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I’m with you Wes, you did what you were suppose to do. You are definately not a coward but instead you were smart and reported it to those who could do something about it. That should be the end of your involvement. You are a visible visitor in the country. Should you have tried to do something yourself you most definately would have lost the battle.

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Jeska August 21, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Wow, I don’t even know what I would have done or said in that situation but I’m sure I would have flipped out on him. Makes me wonder how often that happens and makes me wonder about the little girl a great deal.
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Maria August 22, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Dear John I really would like tu speak directly with your person, I have a foundation in Solola that work about violence with women and children, I wait.

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wes August 22, 2013 at 10:43 pm

I will contact you. Thanks.

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Maria August 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

thnaks

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Linell August 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Hi Maria

I live in San Pedro and would very much like to find out more about your foundation. I believe that there’s a real need for some kind of support system for victims of violence in San Pedro too: Especially tourists have no place to go to here. Please contact me at threebluedragonflies@gmail.com.

Many thanks!

Maria August 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Hi Linell, of course air blog is coisolaguatemala.blogspot.com, there are many people that know our foundation is COISOLA, WE STAY IN PANAJACHEL, and we offer a inter disciplinary professional team for the attention ,
in the municipal office for women in San Pedro you can ask about sour address and phone, also in the Municpalidad there is a women conceal she now us. en la miasma municipalidad puedes solicitor nuestro contact, o born en la OMM, oficina de muter en Panjachel.

Estamso a la orden.

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Ryan August 27, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Intense. Very very intense. I’m sure it is still boiling in you. And I feel like that thought would have passed through my head as well. There is no shame in wanting to slay a monster, and even though life is a precious thing, his life is adversely affecting young girls lives and ruining them. It sickens me. Don’t be down on yourself for thinking about it, I’m sure many in your position would have thought about it too. You didn’t act on it which is good, and karma’s wrath will hopefully get that man.
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Gabriel September 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Wow that is tough. I’m not sure what I would of done but I definitely would of been furious. It’s probably better though that you didn’t ninja kick him because that would of solved nothing for the girl.
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Matt September 15, 2013 at 8:43 am

Any updates on this? I think that as angry as I too would have been, the pure shock of it actually being presented to me (I have lived a very sheltered life) would have rendered me speechless! It sickens me! By the way, first time visitor of your blog and I’m liking what I read. Matt

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wes September 17, 2013 at 10:44 am

I’ve check in with my contact at the embassy but nothing so far…

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steve September 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm

hey wes, i sent you and e-mail. i know this hotel well, have stayed there many times. where were isaac and elsa at? they are still the managers of the hotel. how exactly was “pedro” connected with hotel?

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Christopher Crouzet January 9, 2014 at 11:52 pm

I’ve only been for 2 days in San Pedro for Christmas and even though I enjoyed the landscapes, I didn’t find the weed and other mushroom vendors with all the gringos wandering stoned in the street to be very attractive.

But your story is beyond anything. I’m wondering at which point, some of us, gringos, have been negatively influencing that country by seeking for those kind of forbidden things.

I’ve just met a few days ago a group of Guatemalans in Antigua that were part of an association that tried to get the kids out of the drug usiness. They wanted to give them an alternative, while trying to change the view that the world has about Guatemala and its drug traffic. While we were talking inside a bar closed to the public for the night, a gringo showed up through the opened window to ask if my new friends were selling weed. He thought they did, simply because they were wearing caps, you know.
I guess there’s still a lot of work to go.

Good on you for your reaction at cold btw, anything else wouldn’t have been of any long-term help.
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rebecca September 3, 2014 at 12:23 pm

and to think, he said it so casually… I’m speechless after reading this. Glad you wrote it though, your writing is so honest and interesting that I feel as if I was asked that question. Really makes you realise how bad such a thing is.
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Lily Lau September 9, 2014 at 7:05 pm

I can’t believe it… If it had been me, I wouldn’t have accepted a “I can’t do anything for her”, sounds so adult when I wanted to pick up a stray doggie from the street…!
I think I’d have accepted the offer just to have the girl safe with me and not with those people, and in that madness, I’d have tried to leave the country with her! I’d have ended up in that Guatemalan prison, for sure… but after having tried something.
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