|In Mancora I had the most frightening experience of my life. While Tiffany and I were walking on the beach at sunset, I noticed three men walking towards us. I don't know why, but I got an eery feeling and told Tiffany that we should try to walk around them. As we moved closer to the water, they fanned out and surrounded us.
I threw my water bottle at a man that started to chase me and tried to run around him. He cut me off and I was forced to run into the water. As I was running I looked back to see that the other two men had caught Tiffany. One of them had what looked like either a knife or a syringe. I thought the object may have been a syringe, because one of the men was pulling her arm in an odd way and was trying to stretch it out. I was afraid they were trying to drug her. I could hear her terrified screams from the water. I thought I was going to throw up. Once they had secured Tiffany, a second man started running for the water.
I ran into the water and tried swimming under the massive waves (Mancora is known as a great surfing area), but I didn't get through in time. One of the men caught up to me. I then flipped on my back and started trying to kick him away. He grabbed me by the arm and shoved a "gun" (?) wrapped in a shirt into my side. Standing above me, he held me in the water letting the waves crash over my head. I started coughing up sea water and put my hands in the air to indicate that I gave up and wouldn't resist any longer. He then started dragging me towards the shore. I was absolutely terrified since I couldn't hear Tiffany at all anymore.
I was desperate. With my one free arm I reached behind my back and unclasped my waistpack. I then held it out, shaking it and begged him to take it. He dropped me in the water and looked at my pack. I literally held my breath. I prayed he let me go in exchange for my money and camera, etc? It seemed like 5 minutes, but he finally took it and walked away.
I waited in the water until I saw the three men go over the hill. I then ran onto shore and started screaming Tiffany's name. I had no idea where she was. I started running back to the hostel to get help. Half way there, three more people, two men and one woman, came running towards me. I was so scared that I ran into the water again. I was going to be sick when they started asking where my friend was. I figured that they had seen what had happened and saw the men drag her off. I told them where I last saw her and headed to the hostel to call the police.
Once I arrived at the hostel I learned that Tiffany had gotten away from the men very quickly. One of them ran a knife across her left cheek and actually cut her. She said that when she started to run away she could see that all three men were in the water heading towards me. Thank god she managed to get away. I think it made them panic since they knew they didn't have much time.
Eventually the police showed up. They recorded information about the incident on post-it notes - crazy! There was no safety deposit box at the hostel, so I had everything with me - my camera, money, credit card, debit card and passport.
The next morning while waiting at the police station for an offical report, I convinced Leo to take Tiffany and I back to the beach to look for my passport. I've never seen a Latin American travelling on a fraudulent Canadian passport, so I figured they likely dumped it somewhere. We split up and scowered the beach. In the distance, I saw an man whose physique and gait was similar to the man who attacked me. As I was walking towards him he put a shirt over his head to "shield himself from the sun". I ran back to Tiffany and Leo and told him that I thought I had found one of them. As we left the beach, the man removed the shirt that that he used to conceal his face.
When we returned to the police station, I told them that I thought I saw the man who attacked me. Leo and I went with 4 police officers back to the beach. As we pulled up a middle-aged woman stood up and slowly started walking towards where the man was working. I told the police that I had seen her speaking with him earlier and that they knew each other. The police stopped her and had her take us to where the man was. She explained that he was an employee of hers and that he couldn't have done anything. When he came down from the roof of the hut he was building I noticed that he had switched clothes with another worker, and was now wearing a hat.
As soon as I saw his face, I knew it was him. If he could have killed me with his glares, he would have. I could tell by the way he glared at me, he was a mean, hard, son of a bitch. As the woman was vouching for him, I told the police that he had changed his clothes and questionned why he covered his face when I came by earlier.
The man said that the day before he went straight home after work and was no where near the beach. I then started calling him a liar, the woman a liar, etc. The whole thing went nowhere. On the way back to the station the officers explained that in Peru you were either a worker or a thief, not both, because a worker would never do anything to risk their job. No shit, Sherlock! Why do you think Tiffany and I were convinced they were going to hurt us! All three men were clean cut, in good shape and had nice clothes. They definately did not look poor.
The police took us back to the station since we still had to wait for the police report. Leo said that he didn't want to make the rest of the group (2 other people) wait and wanted to leave without me. Tiffany volunteered to stay behind with me and we agreed that we'd take a later bus and meet up with the group later. He wrote out some instructions for us and said that he was going to buy some bus tickets. Tiffany confirmed that he would be buying our tickets at the same time. He said, "No, it's on your tab. You have chosen to leave the group and Tucan is not responsible for your expenses". I told him that I had no choice but to wait for the police report because the Embassy would not issue an emergency passport without one. I asked if he could give us cash equal to the cost of the tickets, which were $6 US each. Again, he said no. I had otherwise been calm up to this point, but I lost it. I yelled and swore at him for 10 minutes. I didn't have a cent to my name, how did he expect me to meet up with the group? It's not Tiffany's responsibility to pay for me. Thankfully, while we were arguing, the police report was completed and we were able to leave as a group.
The hostel owners wanted to deal with the situation if the police wouldn't. They gathered four, big men together and asked that Tiffany and I go with them to identify the attacker(s). Leo wouldn't let us go with them because we had to catch a bus right away. Funny thing was, a few hours later, I found out that they had found my passport! I'm still trying to find out if they went to confront the man without us. I suspect they did.
We boarded the next available bus to Chiclayo. When I first got on I thought it was strange that each window seat was occupied by a local and all the isle seats were free. All the buses have assigned seating and usually people sit where they are supposed to. Tiffany and I went and sat at the back of the bus. A few hours into the journey the police had waved us down and searched the bus. They didn't find anything, but they wouldn't let us go. I think the driver evenutally paid them off and 30 minutes later we were back on the road.
Approximately one hour outside of Chiclayo, two men and one, 40-something woman began pulling small clear packages containing white powder out of the air vents above their seats. The woman then starting moving around the bus collecting packages from other locals. They all knew each other. They also started moving around huge plastic containers of gasoline (which I suspect may have also contained cocaine). Tiffany got scared and asked me to move to the front of the bus with her - so, I did. Fifteen minutes later I turned back to see two men taping the packages to their bodies and changing into nicer clothing. It was quite an experience. I don't think I can take anymore excitement.