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My hotel is only 2.5 km from the airport. I had planned to walk. My plane should have landed at 6pm but it was more like 10:30 after a series of delays. It was late, my pack was heavy, and in defeat I got a taxi.
Never get in a car with someone you don’t trust. Hitchhiking can get you in trouble and taxis can be a royal pain and possibly expensive. Choose your driver. Cross your fingers. However one can’t choose when their is a great long taxi queue. I was in the cab, the driver yapping loudly on his cell phone and throwing garbage out his window. I had played it by the book, no clandestine cabs powered by random drivers soliciting your business, the meter was running on my request and maps . me was open on my lap while I sat in the front passenger seat to see what he may be playing at. Before I had even gotten in the car I had shown him the address in his language, showed him the location on my phone in relation to the airport and reluctantly put my duffel bag in his trunk.
His wanderings were marginally acceptable as the meter ticked up and up, but it was clear once we were getting close he had utterly no idea and he was reluctantly relying on me to navigate. I motioned for him to stop before a crowded side street a few hundred meters from the hotel, which he did and he very promptly reset the meter. It went from 18 to blank in the blink of an eye. Usually the price sits there on the screen staring at you demanding to get paid. He had a wad of bills out open to a 50. It was obvious the meter had been a decoy to soothe any panic his passenger may have had. Pay up, he motioned knowing my bag was locked in the truck. I pulled out my wallet as if I wasn’t clued into his sly plan and motioned for my bag. What sort of tourist has change straight from the airport anyway?
Unbeknownst to him I already had a twenty in my hand.
I grabbed my bag and gave him the 20. He hadn’t let go of my bag yet and he angrily flashed his 50. I placed the twenty on the side of his car and tried to walk away but he was still firmly holding on to my bag, which he tried to yank off me and put back in the trunk as ransom. He wasn’t a small man but I succeeded in yanking him on to the curb. Boy was he angry. He was sputtering away like a boiler about to blow.
Thus began a tug of war with my 17 kg duffel bag containing my pack. I have often read that in an escalated situation you should think one step at a time. Evaluate and act in small steps to achieve the outcome you desire; never fall to your emotions or your base instincts. My bag connected him to me and I wanted him gone. I started to vary my pulling. If he would relax I would yank hard and hopefully his grip would slip. I think it made him angrier as I moved him quite quickly from his idling cab double parked, doors still open.
I figured perhaps some outside help would be nice so I started yelling “help” and “police” but honestly I could have been yelling “carrot” or “ banana” as it is doubtful if anyone would have understood. The substantial number of people walking or dining were frozen as if time was standing still. No one was helping and no one was gathering to watch. It was if, if they ignored us we would disappear.
I contemplated my opinions. Something a bit violent? Stamp on his toes perhaps? Kick him in the crotch? Something that would immobilize him yet not leave permanent damage like a broken nose? I remember a podcast about an American here who had reacted to what seemed something like a punch from behind. He nailed some guy behind him in the face with his fist and ran. A white guy here sticks out like a sore thumb. They easily found him in his apartment and he ended up in jail for two years without a trial. I had an early morning plane and didn’t have that kind of time.
I continued with my random tugs hoping to wear the guy out and drag him as far from his cab as possible. When he released my bag he was ready, fist tightened and raised as he moved towards me. I wasn’t sure if it was just a macho gesture or an attempt to beat the money out of me. I turned tail and ran.
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