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.