Bruised and Bound in My Nicaraguan Hotel: I’m Finally A Character in a Bad Story
“Sooner or later I’ll be a character in a bad story”, I said this from the beginning knowing I’d have to come to terms with the realities of life on this pilgrimage. Sure enough, after 6 months of traveling down south, it was due time for a bad experience. The gods found I was ready to see my vulnerabilities, and the extent thereof exploited.
So, the other night I found myself on the ground with my feet and hands tied up in my hotel lounge screaming, “ayuda! ayuda, necisito ayuda. Help! I need help”
Now, how I believe I got here may not be reality. What happened is not so clear to me, I only have blurry memories and bruises to recall this unbelievable story. A story even I have a hard time believing. But the bruises, bumps, rope burns on my wrist, stiff neck, sore windpipe, sore cheeks, sore nose, and glass in my kneecaps, as well as, the difficulty of swallowing, tell me to some extent the realities of this nightmare.
Now it’s possible I asked for this, that I was the threat, putting other people in danger. I could have been paranoid and having a bad trip. My manic and erratic behaviour that night could be unjustified. Yet, I believed I was in some type of danger and my manic and erratic behaviour was a relatively measured and tactful way to defuse the situation (to defuse what could have been worse).
I danced around with the men, laughed in the abyss, jumped around, displayed a wide range of absurd facial expressions, sang “if you’re happy and you know it”, yelled and hollered, took off my shirt and banged my chest like an silverback gorilla, pranced around the Main Character, taunted him, tried to gouge his eye, threw a glass cup on the ground, threw fake punches and kicks at the Main Character… All this was obviously crazy behaviour.
But If I really was in some type of danger then my strategy worked, I am still alive with relatively minor injuries and with all my belongings. But, if I was not ever really in danger… well then my strategy was unnecessary and it’s unfortunate I put them in distress. Yet, the saying goes, “better safe than sorry”.
I’d like to think my experiences up to this moment made me uniquely qualified to deal with such a situation. That my ability to read people and situations is a skill that I’ve honed throughout my life, and specifically throughout the last 6 months of my travels where I’ve had 100’s of positive experiences in foreign lands. So, this 1 experience was a rariety, nonetheless, anticipated. I’d like to think I understand people pretty well.
Anyways, this is more or less how it went down
The owner of the hotel, the Main Character, and his friend, the Doc, both got me wound up with frankly alarming behaviour. It started with Doc inviting me to smoke a joint with him. He said he was a 25 year old medical doctor wanting to become a surgeon. He spoke okay English but far from fluent. We didn’t talk much nor did he ask me anything about me besides if I have a job and how old I am. Later, we smoked some of my weed in his bong. Everything was fine up to this point but then I got really high.
I was sitting in a chair high and daydreaming then the Doc showed me a trippy video on his phone, depending on how you were feeling you’d hear a happy song or a sad song. The Main Character was standing near the door watching me and the Doc got up and said a phrase to the Main Character that put my world upside down that night, “I can’t get a read on this guy”, he said in English. My heart started pounding, I was completely freaked out. Why does he need to read me? Why is Doc saying that to the main character? Why did he say it in English? Why are they staring at me from across the room? They kept staring without saying a word. I needed to change characters, I thought, “I look like prey”. So, I started grinning at the wall. Instead of, keeping my chin down I opened up. I spread my legs and sat back in the chair. I occasionally nodded in the abyss, giving an impression of a devilish idea. They stared a little longer then walked away. Then they came back a moment later and stared. “Are we doing this or not”, the Doc whispered frantically in English as if I couldn’t hear him or as if I was suppose to be incoherent at that point. I didn’t hear the Main Characters response but my heart stopped pounding and I felt relieved. They both sat down on the couch in front of me and things were chill. For a moment. Until they continued staring at me . No words had been exchanged between me and them for a while now. I was getting nervous, and they got up and left again.
Things calmed down again but after seeing someone enter my room all my doubts that night were cast aside, I was in danger. I don’t know what kind. I don’t know what they wanted. But their evil vibes permeated my very being.
From this point the chain of events gets more blurry but it went something like this:
I remember sitting in a different chair in the hallway calming down. Then I saw someone enter my room. I thought, “Holy shit, this is real. I’m not overreacting”, I rushed to my room. Someone said, “fuck it, get the shot gun”. I exited my room and put my arms around the shoulders of the first guy I saw and I started dancing to the music that Doc was playing. The Main Character was right there chuckling and the guy I was trying to dance with walked away. I saw my glass of Scotch on the table and picked it up, rose it high above my head, then slammed it on the ground. I shouted like I was ready to party. Quickly, the Main Character got the broom. But I didn’t want to let him do what he wanted to do so I grabbed the broom from him. I pranced around him. I remember throwing fake punches and kicks at him and eventually taking him down with a single leg take down. I tried getting him in a chock but by this time I had 3 guys on me hitting me. And I was quickly in a chock and nearly (or did) pass out. They tried tying me up but I escaped. They tried again but I wouldn’t let them. Another guy came and I still wouldn’t let them. Finally, with a third guy they secured my hands behind my back and tied me up tight, so tight that my wrists are still bruised and scabbed. At this point I had bruises on my forehead, back of my head, ribs and cheeks. I was screaming help as loud as I could. Even when I was tired I had a faint “help” come out of my mouth. I was forced to drink this thick liquid that was inside this vial but I struggled so much that they only got half of it in my mouth. I remember them walking in an out of my room. I remember them video recording me tied up. I remember them pouring a cup of water on me, mostly on my face.
All the while, my perpetrators were reminding me all night about my insanity. They would kneel down while I was tied up and tell me, “why are you acting like this, you’re crazy man”.
Someone walked by and said, “you fucked this up”.
Being in this very alert state was tiring, but I was too scared to fall asleep. I feared even worse things would happen if I feel asleep. Maybe I’d die or maybe slumber was a prerequisite for then to complete the crime. So, I stayed awake. I’d cycle through dozing off then from somewhere I’d get a shot of energy and scream help as loud as I could until there was just a faint “help” coming out of my mouth. Then, a shot of energy. This repeated for a long time. Later, I though, “eh what’s the use”. Lying on the ground in a puddle of water I asked the Main Character, “are you a good man”? He didn’t answer at first but then he said “you are the bad man, you hit me”. He was still kneeling down and I told him, “it’s okay, it’s not personal, life is what you make it. I smiled at him saying, “well I made the best of it”.
At some time while he was kneeled down he asked, “what are you, army, military?”
Finally they untied me and gave me water. They asked if I wanted to stay here tonight and continue my cycling trip or go with the police. I don’t remember answering them. Later, I finally saw the police in the room. And they asked me again if I wanted to sleep here and continue my cycling trip or go with the police. I told him I’m getting the fuck out of here and I packed up all my stuff. I got outside but the police now said they didn’t want to take me anywhere. The police left and I stood outside of the hotel. At this time I recorded some videos explaining what happened, I also sent some videos and messages to my sisters explain what had happened. So, if anything else were to happen to me at least my sister’s would have a good place to start investigating.
Having doubts about what happened and wanting to get more information, I returned to the hotel the next afternoon after sleeping in the park. I had my video camera and the Main Character came to the door. I asked him, “Can you tell me what happened last night?”, he said, “you’re crazy man, you fight me”. He showed me where I cut him on his back with glass. Soon, the Doc came out too, but he only said in anger, “you broke my cup”. After, talking to the Main Character I had more doubt about my strategy being justified.
But, what has been done is done. I’m alive with all my belongings and it sure beats the alternative, it could have played out worse.
Recently, I’m been conscious to not put too much weight on this one negative experience. Loss aversion theory implies that a natural human reaction to such a traumatic event is for me to put undue significance on it. For me to change who I am and how I travel (or cease traveling all together). But that would be the illogical thing to do. Who I am and how I travel has been overwhelmingly successful, changing anything based on this one experience is illogical. So stay the course. Continue being open. Be vigilant and wise
Adam Winfield Keen