The following is a guest post from a Lunar Monkey, Greg Woods, who had a harrowing experience in Costa Rica.
Early in June, my girlfriend and I headed on vacation for 2 weeks in Costa Rica. We’d heard stories about muggings and the like and took precautions accordingly. We didn’t carry much with us at any time, avoided wandering off alone, etc. For most of the trip we didn’t have any problems, despite the fact that we avoided most of the most touristy areas in favor of more isolation and adventure.
Nearer to the end of the trip (Thursday, 14Jun2012), we decided on a chill day around one of the more tourist-infested spots: Playa Conchal. Gigantic resorts dot this area. We just wanted to enjoy the little calm bay and beach around it. Since the trip had gone so well up to that point we perhaps had begun to let our guard down too much. As we wandered down an isolated section down the beach by ourselves, three young men with sticks came out of the woods and demanded our backpack.
I promise I’m not always as stupid as I’m about to sound, but for some reason I steeled myself and refused. My mother would kill me herself if she knew this. I’d always been taught that if something like this happens you just quietly hand over your stuff and then run away. But as I looked at these three guys approach us I thought about how, A) they seemed pretty young, unorganized, and anxious behind their false confidence, B) the sticks they had were pretty unwieldy old tree branches with no apparent sign of other weapons of any sort, C) I was much larger than any of them, and most importantly D) I’m a runner and these guys clearly weren’t. I had no illusions that I was going to fight off three guys on my own. People always imagine that if they get into a situation like this they’ll somehow turn into Bruce Lee and handle it perfectly. I was just looking for a clear path to escape.
The guys ignored my girlfriend since she didn’t have anything on her and I told her to run and get the police, so she took off. They started swinging at me with the sticks, which I responded to by flailing wildly enough to keep them mostly at bay. When I saw an opening between them I took off down the beach. I was pretty far away before they’d even decided whether to try and follow me, and I looked back only long enough to see them sucking wind before heading back into the woods.
So why am I telling you all of this? Well, I owe a lot of our getting away safely to the fact that I had my Lunas on. (And coincidentally, was also wearing the t-shirt at the time.) Leadville Pacers, naked top, ATS laces. The area of beach we were on was a varied mix of fine sand, rough sand, sticks, driftwood, sharp shells, softball-sized rocks, and giant stones. I really don’t think I would’ve run that well barefoot even in an emergency with so much rough stuff underfoot. I’d taken four pairs of shoes for the trip but wore my Lunas the entire time. Hiking, running, beach.
The story has a happy ending in that they didn’t get anything of ours and nobody was seriously hurt. We didn’t really have anything of value with us except for a camera with hundreds of photos from the trip. The three punks were soon caught by police without having anything to show for their efforts. I was lucky and just had a swollen left hand from blocking a swing and a small scratch on my face where one of them had broken his stick over my cabeza dura. I’ve attached a couple pictures from about ten minutes after the incident.
Next time we’ll be even more vigilant, carry even less, and make a point to back up our pictures throughout the trip. I’ve also resolved to be less stupid/stubborn, and to invest in a couple more pairs of Lunas for myself and my girlfriend once we’ve saved a bit back up after the trip. Thank you for a great shoe!