Unpleasant experience (April 3)

April 6, 2007  
Topics: Costa Rica

happy family

happy family

On Tuesday afternoon, after a lovely rice-beans-salad meal, we were brought by Rose and Maji (from www.EarthRoseFarm.org ) to a great hitch-hiking spot outside of San Isidro town. When saying good bye Maji added, “Shall you have the best ride of your life!”…

Unusual for our experiences in Costa Rica, not even after 20 minutes a car stopped and brought us right away to Cartago. The driver was on the way further up to an airport, where he had to collect lost luggage and bring it to another airport in the Nicoya Peninsula. He is kept busy playing the luggage angel for already four years.

We got out on the crossroad to San Rafael, which would also lead to the active volcan Irazu. It was already dark, so that we just purchased some veggies and went to search a place for putting our tent. The street was quite dark and the area not very inviting. It was an industrial region with not much opportunity to place our little house. Everywhere fences, big buildings, service stations for trucks.

We spotted a restaurant ahead, but instead of “parking” our backpacks right in front of it, I asked Augustas to stay a bit further away. In front of the restaurant many trucks were parked, and contrary to usual I somehow felt uncomfortable presenting our belongings. We went to the toilet and continued along the dark road.

Soon we saw an area with fences all around, which seemed perfect for camping. Augustas suggested to ask for staying there overnight, but somehow we did not go for it. We continued, passing another area full of grass. It was placed right behind a repair shop for trucks. When entering the field, a couple of dogs started barking from far, up on a little hill. We are used to ignore such barkings, but this time we felt uncomfortable about it all. We carried on, finding a great spot right beside a house. Should we ask? Looking at the gate made of steal, which was completely destroyed, left us to better go on and search another place.

It was already about 8 p.m. when we saw a dark field, which was covered by lots of stones. We had a closer look, but it did not fit our needs. Thus we turned around, watching a man crossing the street towards the field. It seemed he was going to walk through the field, trying to reach the houses behind. Instead, when we were about to leave the field, he made a quick turn and came fast walking towards us. In about two meters distance he rose a wooden stick in his right hand above his head, shouting, “Dame plata!” (Give me bread (slang for money)!”. He was greatly desperate, threatening us with the stick. Augustas, covered with backpacks in front and back of his body, immediately headed towards him. He chased him, trying to push him back, shouting all the time in a deep, loud, and warning voice “NO!”. The man hit Augustas many times with the stick while doing so. They ran from one to the other side, and either one of them shouting, “Give me money! Give me bread!” or “NO! NO! NO!.

I kept in the background, trying not to make the mistake to get into a battle and injure myself. I had made my experiences until then. But when the man tried to take my backpack, pushed Augustas aiming to save it off with the stick, I saw red. I ran into the man, graping his face and trying to push him backwards to avoid being hit with the stick. We scrambled for a while, him trying to throw me back, until he hurled me against a huge stone. I flew against it with force, injuring my left thigh and forearm. Right after hitting the stone I fell backwards into a dirty, strong smelling kind of puddle. My legs were soaked up to the knees. Whimpering and blind for a moment in shock, I tryed to figure out what is going on. Opening my eyes, I saw the man already back in row with Augustas. I wanted to catch up with them, helping Augustas to beat off the robber, but I could not move. My leg was hurting like hell, feeling like it’s growing till twice the size. Not being able to move I continued whimpering, trying to get my breath under control. Instinctively, I realized that I could only do one thing now: screaming! So I did. I screamed continuously into the dark “Socorro! Help!”, being surprised about the volume of my voice. I wanted people around to hear us, since during the whole attack not even one car had passed the nearby road. Augustas was still struggling with the man, when all of a sudden cars appeared. I was screaming, crying, waving with my hands, while Augustas was trying to stop cars. Nobody reacted on me, probably not even noticing me standing in this puddle-like dig out behind the huge stone I was thrown at.

Then, finally, Augustas managed to stop a small truck. The driver and by-driver got out, fast figuring out what had happened. They loaded the bags onto the back of the truck, while stones were flying downhill from the other side of the street. The driver wanted us to hurry, trying to avoid more injuries. I still stuck in the muddy puddle, and was in the end released by Augustas and the driver. I still could not walk, not even stand firmly on both legs. Augustas seemed allright, helping me into the front of the truck.

We drove off, and instead of bringing us to a hostel, as we asked for, the driver suggested to bring me to a hospital. I agreed since my leg was beating with pain, feeling near to explode. I calmed down, and was touched about the truck-drivers readiness to help us. He gave me his telephone numbers, asking me to call him the next day, for letting him know how everything went. He also offered to pick us up the next day in Cartago, and bring us to a good and safe camping spot in his village near the volcan Irazu. I was so affected by his offerings that it took me strength to hold back my tears. When I wanted to get out of the car his 10year old son touched my left arm and asked, “Call us tomorrow, ok?”. I was deeply moved.

my great blue wheelchair in Cartago hospital after the attack

my great blue wheelchair in Cartago hospital after the attack

The hospital was crowded, meaning hours to wait for consultation. Augustas explained our case, and only half an hour later I was talking to a doc. They put me in a wheel-chair, and send me right away to the X-ray, though I knew it was not broken. The diagnose was a hematoma, which would heal itself in about a week or so without medical treatment. That was fine with me, the pain was bearable. Asking for the bill we were told that someone has disposed not to charge us for the treatment. It was unbelievable, but we really were not charged.

By taxi we were brought to a cheap hostel, which was in a somewhat dangerous area. After explaining the receptionist what happened, he said, “I cannot charge you for the room.” We looked at each other incredulous. “Did you understand what I said?” We nodded slowly, still not believing what we had just heard.

All people we met after the attack were so helpful, showing deep sympathy, and telling us how sorry they were that the attack took place in their own country. So much compassion hit us right into the middle of our hearts, showing that we are right saying, “There is more good than bad out in the world.”