Monday, December 31, 2007

On Christmas Eve…

I got a story about something happened to my wife and I the December 24, between 12:00PM and 2:00PM in “Plaza Venezuela” station of “Metro de Caracas” subway…
My wife and I were coming back home from last minute shopping when, all of the sudden a man engaged us asking
“Hi, do you speak English?”

I was kind of stunt and amazed because of the question, especially here in Venezuela, the people isn’t prepare to speak English at all and it is weird that at a public place a lonely man look for assistance... I said “yes?” more questioning than answering.
The guy told me back:
“Thanks god! First merry xmas, I am from Brooklyn and I really really sorry to bother you. I am in a rush; I was robbed and dumped in Altamira a moment ago…” (4 stations from where we were) “… I need some directions and some money to get to the embassy or going back to the hotel in Puerto Cabello…”

There was nothing more to say or to hear, I knew at that very moment that no one can fake the new Yorker accent and isn’t weird that the personal security in Venezuela is pretty much damaged. So I asked him what could I do to help him, if he needed money, how much does he needed and if he already tried to go to a police station… He’s answer was:
“Police?? Oh yeah, sad story… when I got there and tried to tell ‘em I was rob, then entire police dept started laughing… turn their head back pointing at me, and laughing even more… pretty much depressing, uh?... Seriously, I wanted to study a little bit more your culture because I am a professor... Sociologist as the matter of fact, but I don’t want to stay here any longer, just want to go home; if god let me I will be having Christmas in new York tonight… I asked for assistance in the street and what I got was a ‘go home Yankee… a cab to Valle Arriba (where the embassy is) cost Bs. 25,000 to 35,000’ but then the people vanished and I got in the sub as a cheaper way to get to the U.S. embassy…”

I watched at the same moment my wallet… just Bs. 30,000 in there ($15 bucks), so pulled out Bs. 25,000 (odd $12 bucks) and gave it to him saying… “What you need to do is go back to Altamira, where the Caracas’ Palace Hotel is… Ask in the lobby for assistance, in order to get a cab, DO NOT TAKE ANY CAB BECAUSE THEY ARE AS DANGEROUS AS THE ROBBERS… ” (Sad thing, Venezuelan taxi cabs take advantage of foreign visitors, stealing their money, bags, suitcase, etc…) “… ask the receptionist for help too, you need to get to the embassy as soon as possible. I am really sorry for the inconvenience you had suffer…”.

He looked my wife and I and told us with a grateful smile:
“Do not apologize because of what happened… I was staying in Puerto Cabello for the last days and I can tell you, I was in a paradise, I shouldn’t have come to Caracas but I wanted to study the behavior of your city… Plus, you are the only couple who are willing to help, thank you very much for everything and thank god for put you two in my unfortunate today path.”

We saw him jump in the next train and comeback to Altamira station… After a few minutes my wife and I were terrified, why didn’t we help him more? We should have call the taxi cab instead and send him straight to the U.S Embassy… Once home we wanted to call the embassy to know some status of the man odyssey, but realized we didn’t had any name, just the look-like description and the brief information, sent an e-mail asking for his status but no info had come back…
This story could give you one series of reasons, why we want to migrate… Dangerous city, poor police effectiveness, poor security… And the list goes on and on…

2 Comments:

py said...

Dear friend Rodrigo:

First time I visit your blog, and found your story about this "poor" guy in the "metro" station...

I don't know what to feel, but I have to say that a "very similar" situation happened to me in the Caracas Sambil shopping mall, about a week ago (January 20, 2008).

I'm not a helpful person, but something in this guy told me that he really need help; but reading your story I really don't wanna think that both of us were victim of a bilingual "robber"...

I prefer to think that this behavior is part of the study that he said was doing about our city...

Greetings to you all...

Rod Landaeta said...

Wow py, i really don't know what to say. He has to be very good at faking the new yorker way of speaking.

Even if it was faking it, i couldn't be thinking on leave it or the regret will be still consuming me.

The sad thing i didn't told in the post is, i have been in similar situations before, specially in the metro, where i have seen a Canadian or German citizens in trouble and no one.. neither the metro's personale wanted to provide little help.
Anyway, i prefer to think it was a Xmas present instead a claver robbery.

Thanks for writing.

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