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Help Climbers Attacked in Peru
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By fossana
From Bishop, CA
Jan 5, 2013
downclimb off the First Flatiron <br />photo by TooTallTim

I did a self-supported trek in Peru ~4 years ago and it was standard practice that you pay the locals to sleep on their land, "por la protección" as one of the local women put it. It is unfortunate what happened, but if you can afford the items (previously) mentioned in the blog post you can also afford travel insurance.


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By Dow Williams
From Saint George, UT
Jan 5, 2013
Dow Williams, 2011

fossana wrote:
I did a self-supported trek in Peru ~4 years ago and it was standard practice that you pay the locals to sleep on their land, "por la protección" as one of the local women put it. It is unfortunate what happened, but if you can afford the items (previously) mentioned in the blog post you can also afford travel insurance.


Michelle pretty much cut to the chase on this...and as already alluded to previously...a whole village does not just go nuts for the hell of it...no question there is more to this story...I have spent time in much more volatile/war torn areas (East Africa)....if you want to make camp on folks land...share with them/hang out with them...MAKE THEM WHOLE like you are asking to be made on your $4000 laptop (what is a $4K laptop????) and iphones. This generation has lived on the dole with their parents far to long. 18yrs old should be a gov mandated weaning age.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Jan 5, 2013
El Chorro

jmeizis wrote:
Empathy not your strong suit? I don't think they're looking for a handout to replace their I-pad or some shit, it's just a list of things they lost. They have to pay to get home, to replace their papers. It sounds like they have medical bills they have to pay.


I think the problem some of us have is this: If they have enough money to drive across two continents with thousands of dollars worth of the newest flashiest gear, then they have enough money to take care of their flights home and some medical bills. Sure it will add up to a lot (especially getting the teeth fixed) but like others have said, insurance for a trip like this one costs less than an iPhone 5. If you are that worried about your material things, then pay for an insurance policy.

I know plenty of people who would be offended if they were asked to donate money to someone who wrote a story like this. It would have nothing to do with empathy, or a lack there of, and everything to do with the fact that these people seem pretty out of touch with what most of the world are going through right now. The world is in shambles and it's not getting better. Many of you probably live in areas where you don't really see the worst of it, but in the UK it's getting bad and in mainland Europe it's a lot worse. To think that a bunch of young Americans are vacationing around with cameras and laptops that are worth more than what most people have to their name - it's all fine and good until they go and get it all stolen and expect people to donate money to them afterwards. It's kind of a slap in the face. We know they need money for more important things like flights and med bills but like I said, they obviously have the money for that stuff or they wouldn't have bought all the other non essentials.

I agree though that there seems to be more to this story than just some people getting beaten and robbed. I can't imagine what could cause a whole village to get crazy like this but I hope that we find out someday so I don't do it.

Regardless of how the call for donations rubs me the wrong way, I do completely support these folks and like I said, I wish them all a full recovery. If someone really needs money to get home, I'm sure the members of MP would get together and buy a place ticket. In that case I'll be the first to donate.


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By Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi?
From Vegas
Jan 5, 2013
Growing a winter coat in Red Rock Canyon- December 2013.

Well put, Ryan!


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By Superclimber
Jan 5, 2013

Yeah, I was thinking some of the same stuff as RW. It really sucks that they were attacked, robbed, and so badly beaten. I feel very bad for them. But I suspect they have the means to pay their bills and get home. Still, I hope they are able to recover mentally and physically. Really sucks that the guy lost some teeth. Hope he got on antibiotics in time, if not that could have consequences later in life.


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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jan 5, 2013
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.

Werner from Supertopo has a better handle on the Peruvian reactions to Americans. They have a lot of deep seated hatred because of the war on drugs and soldiers burning their cocoa fields. His trip down there for work educated him on the scene. They have the same thread over there of course. It's on all of the climbing sites.


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By Brad Boyle
From Tucson, AZ
Jan 6, 2013

A few things to think about:

1. The support fund was set up by friends and relatives back in the US, not by the three travelers. They're pretty embarrassed by it (as you can read in Meg's most recent post).

2. The list of possessions and their value at the end of the original post was not intended as a plea for money. Meg didn't have time to write a full post herself, so she pasted in a letter that Jenny had written for a Peruvian agency that asked for an account in writing. It's exactly the kind of account I had to write many years back when my car was robbed in Oaxaca: what happened, what did you lose, what was it worth (before someone makes any more comments about "third world countries"--my car was also broken into a few months later in Vancouver, BC). Meg has since removed that list because they were getting so much flak about it.

3. If you've ever done a long, self-sufficient road trip, you know you carry a lot of stuff. All you dirt bag climbers, add up ropes, rack, crampons, ice tools, camera, that nice patagonia jacket. And so on. You get the idea. They were on the road for a year. They weren't waving their stuff around, it was in their truck. The villagers smashed out the windows and took everything. Please, no more comments about pampered rich kids.

4. Read the earlier blog posts from their trip. These guys are legit. Nice people, too.

Who knows why the villagers attacked them? Sounds like they were on edge about something. I'm sure there's an interesting back story here. Perhaps Jed, Meg and Jenny could have handled the situation better. Perhaps not. Either way, they didn't deserve to be beaten, robbed and have their teeth smashed out.


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By wankel7
From Indiana
Jan 6, 2013

Amazing, I am glad to hear they made it out alive because that is all that matters. It sucks they lost all of their stuff but they are going to live. They are young and in 30 years they won't care about the material things they lost but will be happy they have lived 30 years past that event.

I am finishing up a book called Two Wheels Through Terror. Motorcyclist riding from Palm Springs to the southern tip of S. Amer gets kidnapped by the ELN in Columbia...scary stuff.

Personally, I can't bag on these travelers for the choices they made. They are out doing something that many dream of and few do. I am sure they did a lot of planning for the trip and even planned for something going wrong.

However, how can anybody plan for having your teeth knocked out by a rock while somebody levels a shotgun at your face?


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By MJMobes
From The land of steady habits
Jan 6, 2013
modern man

wankel7 wrote:
Personally, I can't bag on these travelers for the choices they made. They are out doing something that many dream of and few do. I am sure they did a lot of planning for the trip and even planned for something going wrong. However, how can anybody plan for having your teeth knocked out by a rock while somebody levels a shotgun at your face?


If they spent as much time reading international news(guns,killing,more guns, more killing) as they did planning for this trip they might have flown down there.

Even in peaceful third world countries it feels a bit strange and unsafe, especially in rural areas, to be on a "vacation" among people that have never heard of the word "vacation".


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By wankel7
From Indiana
Jan 6, 2013

TRmasta wrote:
If they spent as much time reading international news(guns,killing,more guns, more killing) as they did planning for this trip they might have flown down there. Even in peaceful third world countries it feels a bit strange and unsafe, especially in rural areas, to be on a "vacation" among people that have never heard of the word "vacation".


After reading through all of their posts before the attack there is no way there would have flown instead.


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By Patrick Vernon
From Albuquerque, NM
Jan 6, 2013
mexico

Here is an account in a Peruvian newspaper of the incident,

elcomercio.pe/actualidad/1518317/noticia-cusco-turistas-esta>>>


"Al parecer, los turistas ingresaron a la comunidad, no se identificaron y hubo problemas con el idioma. Los campesinos los habrían confundido con abigeos."

It appears the tourists entered the community, didn't identify themselves and there were problems with the language. The villagers had confused them with abiegos.

Does anyone know what abiegos means? I think it is a slang term specific to Peru denoting a group of people possibly white? I have never been to Peru.

Many of the comments below the article reflect what has been said here, some are surprised, some think the story is unbelievable, and some say this region is known for violence.

-Patrick


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By Happiegrrrl
From Gunks
Jan 6, 2013

Does anyone know what abiegos means?

Using Google Translate, it went:
"Apparently, tourists entered the community, were not identified and there were problems with the language. Farmers have mistaken the rustlers."

But the article is pretty much just recounting from the report made by the written statement that we have seen posted. There is no official word from the local police or embassy.


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By Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi?
From Vegas
Jan 6, 2013
Growing a winter coat in Red Rock Canyon- December 2013.

Cattle rustlers/thieves?? Interesting to hear another side of the story . What a misunderstanding. Language barriers are never good in sketchy areas, especially on other folks land.


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By Patrick Vernon
From Albuquerque, NM
Jan 6, 2013
mexico

It looks like cattle rustler then. They were probably thought to be cattle rustlers when the villagers first saw them and any attempts at conversation were made I am assuming.

(the coments below the article are very revealing and reflect that) and makes no sense but it is a bit of information not mentioned before that could explain something.

Here is an interesting response to the article:

"Yo y mis amistades, turistas de Estados Unidos, fuimos agredidos cuando tomamos un bus de Cusco a Puno. Habia una huelga de campesinos los que tiraron rocas al bus donde ibamos e incendiaron el puente por donde debiamos cruzar. En el bus yo era el unico Peruano. Que pena que esto no se sancione."

My friends and I, tourists from the US, were assaulted when we took a bus from Cusco (sameish region?) to Puno. There was a group of villagers who threw rocks at the bus we were in and burned the bridge we were going to cross. I was the only Peruvian on the bus. What a shame this hasn't been dealt with.

-Patrick


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By mark felber
From Wheat Ridge, CO
Jan 6, 2013

So, someone from the village demanded to see their papers. They thought it was a scam to steal their passports, etc., and when they refused the locals assumed they were cattle rustlers out to grab some livestock. Sounds like a well organized neighborhood watch program went into action at that point. Hiring a local guide/translator and talking to the locals (and maybe offering to pay the landowner before setting up camp on his land) might have saved them some grief.


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By Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi?
From Vegas
Jan 6, 2013
Growing a winter coat in Red Rock Canyon- December 2013.

Sounds like a bit of the old Wild Wild West going on in that area. Plan accordingly...

Edit to add: whenever I travel abroad, I keep copies of my IDs hidden, or my traveling partner and I each carry copies of each others IDs in case our originals are lost, or stolen, and the numbers to the US Embassy, or consulate.


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By mark felber
From Wheat Ridge, CO
Jan 6, 2013

With rampant crime and no dependable police force in the area, it would make sense for the locals to organize like that. Stealing somebody's livestock in that part of the world can mess up that person's life pretty badly. Cattle rustlers in the original Wild West didn't get treated too gently, either.


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By Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi?
From Vegas
Jan 6, 2013
Growing a winter coat in Red Rock Canyon- December 2013.

Not sure if these tourists were taking pictures in the area they were attacked, but I can see folks getting paranoid if strangers are taking pics of their people, and their livestock on their land. I know many of us would be angry, or suspicious if someone, or people who didn't identify themselves drove by our house, and took pics of our kids, and animals. Just sayin' Tourists can be a little too trigger happy with their fancy cameras at times. Just be careful, and put yourselves in other folks shoes if you tend to be a snapaholic.


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By Patrick Vernon
From Albuquerque, NM
Jan 6, 2013
mexico

Interesting that you mention that GiGi,

Here is directly from their blog in Colombia:
www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=508696122481601&set=a.508685>>>

They have photos of police stations and border crossings too in Colombia. I am surprised they didn't get attacked sooner. Naive? Very. Deserving of what happened? Not at all.

-Patrick


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By Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi?
From Vegas
Jan 6, 2013
Growing a winter coat in Red Rock Canyon- December 2013.

Yikes! One might take pics of drug fields, deals, and corrupt police action inadvertently in some of those regions if they're not careful. Hope they get paid well for pics like that.
; /


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By Medic741
From Pittsford, New York
Jan 6, 2013
When I was a bum at Frey

Holy crap. Uh yeah. I'm sorry but you do not do that. Especially in those countries. I really would like to hear the village's account of what happened/ why.

Quiet abductions much much more common than this lynching scenario. More as it has been discussed how did they piss this village off so much?. Wow.

It has been brought up if you are sleeping on someone's campo you go up to the door, offer a few bucks, smile and ask if they would like to join you for dinner. +10000 for this advice. Something happened and they are not telling the whole story or are too naive to know what they did wrong.


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By Brad Boyle
From Tucson, AZ
Jan 6, 2013

I really want to understand this story. I have traveled for over 40 years all over Latin America and I love it. Especially in my own vehicle, which I love best of all. Incidents like this are very, very rare. The closest one I can think of is the mobbing of those tourists in Guatemala who were mistaken for "baby snatchers" (thanks Gri Gri for the link).

pat vernon, Gri Gri, sorry, but I don't buy your theory about taking pictures. It's pretty clear from their blog they pulled up while en route to somewhere else after hiking Ausangate. It was late in the afternoon and they were just looking for a place to camp. Based on my experience at least, whole villages do not gang up on you smash your teeth out for taking pictures. They might get annoyed and ask for money, but that's about it. And in general, no, it is not taking your life into your hands to take picture in Colombia or anywhere else in Latin America. Borders are not a problem. If it is a sensitive military installation, they will tell you to cut it out. That's it.

But pat, thank you for the link to the El Comercio article. I like the mistaken identity hypothesis much better. I'm not sure about rustlers, there must be some other reason the villagers were on edge. I would love to know. That area has a sad history from the Sendero Luminoso years. But who knows? Self-protection spiraled out of control, then, vigilanteism.

mark felber, your comment,

Sounds like a well organized neighborhood watch program went into action at that point.

is spot on.

But you can't always hire a local guide. Especially not if you're just traveling from A to B. Remember, they were camping for *safety* reasons, because it is dangerous to drive at night (and it is). Sensible enough. They were in a tight spot, made the decision to camp, and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Total 20:20 hindsight, but I do think that *if* they had not attempted to flee, and *if* they had been totally apologetic, sucked up, handed over their documents and completely complied with the requests of the locals, things wouldn't have gotten out of control. In other words, do NOT stand your ground (guys without guns get robbed, guys with guns get shot).

But who am I to say I would have done any different? It's tempting to just to jump into your car and drive off. Unfortunately in their case they drove off the wrong way. By the time they turned around the villagers were already riled up and it was too late.


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By Patrick Vernon
From Albuquerque, NM
Jan 6, 2013
mexico

Brad, I don't think taking pictures had anything to do with it, I just noticed on their blog they took some pictures in situations where it might not have been wise to. I thought it was indicative of their overall judgement which made the situation worse. I think it was a gross miscommunication, mistaken identity, and lingering resentment all rolled into one with a sad outcome. There is a huge thread on Supertopo full of vitrol and wild conjecture (I am guilty of both) its an interesting read if you check it out.

-Pat


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By yeego
Jan 6, 2013

It's not too surprising for situations like this to happen. I'm surprise it doesn't happen more often. You need to understand that a lot of people around the world do not like americans that much. The mentallity of most americans are like vehicle commercials; go anywhere you want, do anything you want, and expecting instant gratification & entitlement. Even if you are not like this, people of other countries view you as such. This will not be a popular post and is not intended to disrespect the victims, but it is true. I don't condone the actions of the villagers, but it seems they had some reasons for their behavior. Take extra care while travelling outside this country.


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By Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi?
From Vegas
Jan 6, 2013
Growing a winter coat in Red Rock Canyon- December 2013.

Brad, I wasn't trying to say that taking pictures in itself caused this level of violence, but it can certainly get the ball rolling on pissing folks off, especially if they're already somewhat paranoid, and on edge for whatever reasons. In my experience, when I've seen folks get their teeth knocked out, and jaws broken it was usually from an escalating incident of mouthing off, and disrespecting someone, or their people. We'll probably never hear the whole truth from either side, but it makes a lot of sense in what you said about NOT standing your ground in certain situations in these unstable regions; you'll most likely lose, especially when outnumbered by armed, pissed off folks.


The end.


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