A mugging in San Telmo.

A mugging in San Telmo.

It’s 3.30 at night, my end of my first day in Buenos Aires.  It’s been a very long day on the plane, in the airports, banks, taxis, cafes, hotels, apartments and casinos.  We are finishing our last beers, in Placa Dorrego.  This is a charming leafy square in the heart of San Telmo, oldest and most bohemian of Buenos Aires barrios.

I encourage Nefta to walk Selina to the bus.   As far as I am concerned these young people should get married immediately.  The flat I share with Nefta is in the other direction to the bus stop, so I tell him I’ll wait for him here in the square.  I do consider escourting them both to the bus stop, but the area feels safe.  Besides, my young Spanish friend may wish to kiss his friend.   I don’t wish to cramp his style.

They return to the square ten minutes later,  together, pale and shaken.   Two local thugs have tried to rob them, a block and a half away.  I am all empathy.  I am also impressed with their conduct.  They are unhurt and unscathed.  Besides, the thieves got nothing.

As far as I can gather the transaction went like this.  Translated from Spanish of course.


‘Hood Rats appear on dark street, push young Spaniard and young German into doorway.

‘Hood Rat 1-   Okay, this is a stick-up.  We have a knife.

– Shocked pause.

Nefta-  Shit, I’m really sorry, we don’t have any money.

Hood Rat 2 (with nasty sneer)  Yeah, right, pull the other one.

Selina- No really, we’ve just been to the casino, we lost everything.

Hood 2-  You want to get hurt?  We have a knife.  Give us your wallet.

Nefta-  I don’t use a wallet, and we really don’t have any money.

‘Hood Rat 1-  That’s very bad news for you man.  We cut you bad right now.


Slightly embarassed pause……


Nefta-  Emmm…. Please don’t be annoyed. But just out of interest, where is the actual knife?

Hood Rat 1-  Don’t get smart, I promise you motherf**ker, the last thing you want to see is my knife.  It’ll be the last thing you ever see on this earth. 

Nefta- Sure, normally that would be the case.  I’m just curious.

Hood-  Yeah, well your curiosity gonna get you hurt bad, cabrón.

A further, longer, embarassed pause…

Nefta, (continued)-   I only mean,  this is a mugging, right?  Isn’t that the norm?  You want our money, so you threaten us with the knife?  It’s only fair to show the knife.  If I had any money, I would definitely give it to someone with a knife.

Hood Rat 1-  You don’t know when to shut your mouth, do you?

Nefta-   Sorry, I’m only saying..

Selina- And we’re very sorry we don’t have any money. 

Hoods hestitate, consider their options.   But hesitation- as everyone knows- is fatal.   Uniformed police squad car slowly prowls around corner to the right,, two blocks down.  Then very slowly it turns… left, in time to save the day .   Hoods give one final glare.   Hoods depart.   Young Europeans breathe deep sigh of relief, and return  to the square, trembling,  or at least mildly shaken.


3 thoughts on “A mugging in San Telmo.

  1. I read every word of the last three posts. If the 40 degree heat is oppressive there, you can rest assured that the blanket of chill grey over Ireland is equally so. I am conflicted. I want more, but I also want to know that you are not spending too much time either thinking or writing about your experience. But that’s daft. I want more and will look forward to it. Love from Tig


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