the squabble.

if I’m being completely honest, I could have just walked right on by.

but when someone, obviously smaller than your ownself, walks right by you and sticks a middle finger in your face, the guy in you comes right out and you become set on defending your honor.

the honor that was disrespected by a drunken Peruvian at 7 in the morning.

‘que puta?’ I shouted, despite him being 8 feet away from me.

he answered something back and walked up to me with his arms spread out wide, the universal sign for ‘want some?’

I guess I did and threw him up against the wall.

I hadn’t been drinking,

I wasn’t in a bad mood.

in retrospect, I guess I was just in the mood for a squabble.

since arriving in South America, the machismo had shown it’s ugly head on more than one occasion,

and with constant warnings of ‘don’t go down this street at this time’ and ‘carry only what money you need’,

combined with buying big knife in Quito after being tailed by a few unsavories one evening.

maybe I just had had enough.

up against the wall he went, but bounced right back. he was either tough or out of his mind on the often-lethal moonshine aguardiente – a $0.33 a bottle, ensuring everyone gets the job done.

right back up to me and I started to worry that I was really going to have to hurt him to keep him down… and that’s never a good feeling. punches, etc – they happen, we know how to both give and receive them. but when you realize that someone needs more than a smack, you start to worry.

he threw a punch and I blocked it, grabbing him by his jacket – spinning around half a turn and throwing him on the ground.

if he tried to get up, to come at me again, I was going to have to kick him… and the problem with a kick is that you can’t gauge it like a punch.

kicking’s no good. but sometimes you have to.

he got back up and I made a point of shouting ‘tiene touristo problema?!’ just in case anyone watching thought it the other way around.

he grinned at me and ran into an open apartment.

shit, he’s going to go get some boys, I thought, and began making my way to the main square of Chachapoya – where people and, more importantly, armed police and guards would be.

[to give you an idea of how bad things are/have gotten in South America, armed guards are everywhere. for everything]

but there weren’t any. I suppose a violent hour of 7am had yet to catch on. I walked towards my hotel and saw him coming out of the other side of the park – no friends, but obviously looking for me… with a big rock in his hand.

this didn’t worry me as much as it should have. call it adrenaline. or the stupid guy gene.

anyway.

out in the open, I was more than willing to have him take a charge. people were walking by and would see the deranged local make a move on the tourist. so I stood on a bench so he could see me and he started over.

‘hello, Aric’, came the voice from behind me.

it startled me at first, but then I remembered Jose, the soft-spoken guide who worked at my hotel.

‘hi Jose. there is a man trying to fight me’, I told him.

‘what?!’ he almost screamed. ‘where? who?’

I pointed to the man and he went running back to the hotel, pulling a police officer out of the cafe that was below.

well, there wouldn’t be a fight now, but there would be an arrest… fuck this guy.

I went charging in his direction and he – upon seeing the policeman trailing behind me – put his hoodie up and started walking away.

fuck that. this is going to end one way or another… but not with you just walking away. I ran up to him and grabbed him by the jacket and pulled him back. he turned around and did his best to look surprised.

aqui!’ I shouted at the officer, making his way over. the thug tried to wrestle himself away, but I wouldn’t let go of his jacket.

once the policeman came over, I let go and then explained to him with sign language what had happened earlier. the thug told a different story, I could tell, and the policeman turned to me and made the universal sign of ‘he’s drunk’, complete with a shoulder shrug.

fuck that. he doesn’t get off on a ‘he’s drunk’ excuse. it’s 7 in the fucking morning and he’s out of his mind trying to fight tourists. no way.

voy policia estacion‘, I announced – grabbing his jacket again.

and off we went.

15 minutes later, we were in a small room with 6 officers, none who looked as interested in the situation as they were my tattoos. again, I explained what had happened – throwing in how drunk he was – and once again, he told them another story. this started to piss me off.

‘porque yo tienes problemas con persona aqui?’ I horrible threw together, hoping it would make sense to them that a tourist wouldn’t go around starting shit in a place he paid money to go to.

but again… the now-amazingly sober thug was saying the opposite, and even included something in there that made them laugh.

oh no… laughing isn’t good. not when it’s him making them. and I’m in Peru, where everyone warns you to always carry your passport, or it could be jail time.

[yes. for tourists. it’s happened.]

I was lost. if we walk out of here, he’s going to go get some pals and will be sure to pay me a visit later. my time in this cute little town would be screwed, and I’d looking over my shoulder everywhere I went for a rock to the he-

the rock!

I glanced at his jacket and was embarrassed I didn’t notice the bulge before.

‘rock!!!’ I shouted, even though I didn’t need to.

a few seconds of confusion on the faces of everyone before one of the officers could see what I was pointing to. he walked over and pulled out the softball-sized weapon that my would-be attacker somehow forgot to discard.

the same officer pulled his hand back and punched this man as hard in the face as I’ve ever witnessed.

another threw him up against the file cabinet and asked ‘why?’ [plus a lot of other stuff in Spanish – I only caught porque]

one of the other policeman next to me motioned me to stand up and shook my hand, saying ‘okay‘ and ‘gracias‘. I knew that this was my cue to leave and I did.

the door was closed behind me and I scurried out the door before I heard anything I wasn’t supposed to… even though I did. and whatever they were doing to him in there had nothing to do with paperwork.

fucking South America… 3rd country out of 3 where there’ve been issues like this.

and I’ve got Bolivia up next… who aren’t fans of Yanks one bit.

great.