The Ethics of Being Robbed

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I wasn’t robbed today but the girl above was. She was walking with another guy down to the end of the road where our hostel sits and was stopped at the corned by a local with a machete who wanted their money.

Fortunately for them, they both had less than $5 and handed it over and kept walking.

A few minutes after they arrived at the hostel I overheard them telling a group what had happened and stopped to see if they were okay.

Naturally the first question the group had was if they were going to tell the police. The guy quickly responded that he didn’t want trouble so he was going to let it go as it was only a few dollars.

Traditional Colombian Food

Understandably someone piped up that they should at least notify the hostel owners so others wouldn’t be robbed. He seemed quick to defer all of those questions and said he would tell everyone in the hostel so they were prepared.

He hasn’t. I have been up on the rooftop with a group of 7-10 people all day. Many people come up to sit in the hammocks and read or practice their Spanish. He hasn’t been up once in the last 5 hours.

He isn’t going to tell the police, the hostel owners or the rest of the people in the hostel.

So now here I am in a hostel knowing that I could be robbed again. I have to pass this corner to enter into town and all I’m armed with is the knowledge to stay away from men with machetes.

Thanks irresponsible backpacker couple. Now I know everyone is only looking out for themselves.


Join the Conversation

  1. Natalie - Turkish Travel Blog says:

    Your post has left an uneasy feeling with me. I would hate to think that everyone you are coming into contact with, is only looking out for themselves.

  2. Michael Hodson says:

    Kinda funny, since we talked about this when it happened. I moved along to San Gil — and some of those people in your hostel showed up at the place I was staying here. They were telling me about a machete robbery story and I chimed it, “I know that story!” They were annoyed with the whole non-reporting thing also

  3. Yikes, that’s scary to know some jerk is lurking around! It’s sad people can be so selfish. 🙁

  4. How hard is it to mention it to the hostel staff and let them deal with it?? very strange.

  5. I’ve got to agree. Regardless of what their motives were for not warning others, it was very selfish. If we travelers don’t look out for each other and warn each other of dangers, who will?

  6. I think I stayed at that hostel in Taganga. I ended up swallowing glass from a locally bottled juice and in the ER. It was lodged in my throat and hurt like a bitch. Oh that was scary.

  7. Dave and Deb says:

    Strange, they should have definitely told everyone. The hostel owners and staff and the guests. It would be good to know that there is a guy armed with a machete.

  8. Uncouth. That dude must be really afraid of retribution of the machete-wielding maniac.

  9. Andrew Murray says:

    I think, given this situation, I’d head on down there and mention it to the hostel owners myself. They’d probably be quite interested to learn of a machete wielding madman lurking around the corner from their hostel, and preying on their guests. They would probably report it to the local police themselves. People like this are often known to the police. I had a similar situation in Mexico, went and reported it with a good description, and 30 minutes later the guy was marched past me having been relieved of the money that he stole.

  10. Cornelius Aesop says:

    At the least you can mention it to the hostel people and hope that it doesn’t happen to anyone else. Good luck on being safe.

  11. We’re in Taganga too! Where are you staying? We’re at Bayview. We should meet up. xox

  12. Your MessageThat’s irresponsible on their part. Maybe you should casually alert the hostel owners. Somebody running around with is a machete is unreal. He probably won’t stop until the authorities have been alerted.

  13. Awww… what a douche bag.
    What time was it when they were robbed? Someone should just tell the hostel owners anyways.

  14. Adventurous Kate says:

    This is really strange. Are you sure the guy just didn’t make it up?

  15. Devin the Travel Writer says:

    It is a shame when people are not willing to take care of each other — even if it is not convenient.

  16. Christy - Ordinary Traveler says:

    That’s lame. You could just tell the hostel owners yourself and see how they think it would be best to handle it.

  17. Nomadi Chick says:

    I’m with Christy tell them yourself. if they won’t take charge, sounds like someone should. They might be a bit clueless on what to do or why they should. I’m betting a dash of douche is mixed in.

  18. Hope you stay safe. I’d tell the owners. I’d also find out where that couple is going next and go somewhere else. I wouldn’t want to travel on the same trail as they are.

  19. Yes, it feels a bit strange, this. Either (a) they’re appallingly selfish and deserve to be shopped to the authorities behind their backs – because other people’s safety is at stake here….or (b) it’s a made-up story that hasn’t had quite the impact they intended (ie. adding a bit of drama and making them the centre of attention)?

    Either way, this kind of behaviour is in a pathetic minority, if I’m any judge.

  20. Makes me wonder if the hostel owner is getting part of the prize….

  21. Makes me wonder if the hostel owner is getting part of the prize….

  22. Not looking to be unreasonably harsh here, but rather than just being upset and complaining about this, why on earth would you not report this yourself, at the very least to the hostel owners? The reality is that many people don’t do what they should, but if you don’t report then you’re doing the same thing they did. A little personal responsibility before condemning someone else?

  23. What a weird response from your hostel. I would move somewhere else. We stayed in Bayview when we were there and really liked it. In any case, I would keep telling locals until someone does something about it. A lot of times the community (especially a small one like Taganga) committing a crime like that is shameful. The more people who know, the more shame that will be put on him, hopefully preventing future incidents.

    P.S. I hope your going to Tayrona from there. Beautiful place!

  24. Wow, they should have told every single person in the hostel and outside. My last trip to Spain my friend got robbed and it was such a nightmare. We wanted to tell the police and nobody in the street was willing to help us. We felt like they were all part of the same “robbing” team as they were all standing on the corner of the square where it happened and gave us all the wrong advices. A girl came to help us and one of the guys told her very badly to get lost, so she did, visibly uncomfortable. We got back to the hotel, told the owner, and what was his answer? “Well, if you want to waste a day, go to the police station, otherwise forget about it and enjoy your holiday!” Unlike for your couple, my friend had a lot of money in her purse, too much, and the holiday was unavoidably spoiled. Artfully, the robbers gave her back the purse with the passport, otherwise she should have been obliged to go to the embassy and probably an investigation would have started.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I was out today and was surprised to see so many responses when I got back – even the harshly negative one, ouch!

      I hadn’t even thought to write that yes indeed I asked the hostel owners if the couple told them. They were genuinely concerned and wanted to know the details unfortunately I had few, but they thanked me and were going to follow up with the couple to see if they could get more information as the last thing they wanted was a reputation for being a hostel where backpackers get robbed.

      Unfortunately more seemed to happen in Taganga, while the couple was robbed in the afternoon another man tried to rob two girls at night. They screamed and the locals came out to see the man running away but they knew who he was and the police picked him up.

  25. Oh that’s scary! I’m so glad you told the hostel owners. I’m sure they will take steps to ensure your safety. Good for you saying something when others didn’t!!

  26. Wtf? Ass.

  27. @Candice Okay you win for funniest comment on this post

  28. That is not cool. Glad you said something. It’s also scary.

    I once got pick-pocketed in Barcelona…didn’t even see it. I reported it and eventually, they caught the guy (thanks to the video of him withdrawing my $ from the ATM). One does lose a lot of time on this, but it’s worth it.

  29. Mark Powers says:

    I agree with Gray, we’ve got to stick together & watch each other’s backs . . . it’s the traveler’s dharma.

  30. I would have to say that the girls screaming was quite ballsy. I’m not sure I could have gotten anything out!

  31. I think you need to get a hiking stick and start traveling around with that, some sort of really hard wood, in case they want more thanjust your point and shoot. I mean if buddy’s got a machete then its only fair. But obviously I hope it never comes to that. You seem to be getting good at trusting your judgments ayngelina, also traveling around with friends when ever possible. What about pepper spray, do they sell that there, or does that piss the would be thief off more?? STAY SAFE!

  32. It may just be that he is in some state of shock after the event. Especially for a guy, as it can really take away your masculinity. It may seem like an easy task to tell others and warn them but the couple may be doing everything they can to avoid the subject even it means not talking about it at all.

  33. the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell says:

    Hi. Greetings from Taian, China.

    Shady happenings everywhere … I didn’t get robbed in Colombia … but the cops nearly busted me – took me down to the station – for having a joint in my pocket

    Watch who you trust, everywhere. Be never be paranoid; travel easy and go with the flow.

    Regards – Michael Robert Powell AKA the candy trail … a nomad across the planet, since 1988

  34. Matt | YearAroundTheWorld says:

    Just as Phil said, robbery victims can often feel embarrassed about the ordeal. Men especially. That’s probably why he didn’t report it.

    I carry very strong pepper spray with me when I’m out and about with my DSLR on the road. Instant temporary blindness is an effective and safe weapon against simple weapons.

    If you don’t believe me, have a friend spray you. Police use it all the time because it works. 🙂

  35. I agree. You should definitely spread the word to other travelers on how to keep safe and where the dangerous areas are. Also, I think it’s important to tell the police, even if they don’t do anything about it. The only time I was robbed was in San Juan del Sur Nicaragua, as you were. After that experience I’m much more aware of my surroundings. I’m heading to Tagonga later this week and will be very cautious.

  36. Wow, they were really lazy. I’m surprised they didn’t report it to at least the hostel staff. This could happen to them again, in the same spot even.

  37. That’s awful. I really don’t understand some people. I know it’s important to look out for yourself but it’s amazing how many people aren’t willing to help others aswell. 🙁

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