Meet Matt. A young Canadian surfer dude who is traveling through Mexico. Or, who was traveling through Mexico.
I invited him here today to tell his story -- and why it makes sense to report crimes to the local police.
Matt left Canada about a month ago to travel through Mexico. With an eye on getting as far south as the surf capital of Puerto Escondido -- the seasonal home of fellow blogger John Calypso.
He is not a novice to traveling in Mexico. That is why he had no qualms, when he arrived in Melaque very early on Thursday morning, about setting up his tent on the beach.
I have already telegraphed the next step in this tale. During the night, someone
cut a vertical slit in the tent and ran off with his backpack.
Of course, it was not just his backpack. It was his life in compact form. Passport. Telephone. Camera. Money. Credit Cards. Clothes.
Think Mr. Potter foreclosing on George Bailey.
What do you do when you don't know anyone in a foreign country, and you have just been reduced to the level of a beggar?
The first thing he did was head to the local police station where he filed a mini-report of the incident. The police told him he would have to get to Cihuatlán -- several miles away -- to file a formal report.
But he had no money. None.
A local hotel allowed him to use its telephone to call his mother in Canada -- for money that was not to arrive until a couple of days later.
The young Mexican woman at the desk took pity on him and gave him a 100 peso note -- an unexpected grace note from someone for which 100 pesos is a lot of money. A tourist couple pointed him to Rooster's.
Gary and Joyce at Rooster's put food in his belly. Another Canadian tourist offered him a place to stay for the night.
Later that same day or on Friday, a miracle happened. A local hotel discovered his passport in a wastepaper basket in a room that had recently been vacated by a young Mexican and his hooker.
The chronology gets a bit garbled at this point, but the facts are all there. Matt and one of the waiters from Rooster's took the bus to Cihuatlán to file a formal report. Just as they were returning to Melaque, the police called to ask him to return. They had a suspect in custody.
When Matt entered the room where the thief was being held, he noted something odd. The guy was wearing Matt's favorite shirt. The backpack and clothes were all there.
But no money or camera or telephone. The thief claimed that he had traded the goods for a bit of methamphetamine. Drugs. Hooker. Hotel room. Tossed passport.
The story is not yet over. And it will probably play out for a few more days. But there is a moral to the tale. Reporting thefts to the police is not necessarily a futile gesture.
Gary reminded me that when his house in Melaque was burglarized, he reported the theft (in detail, thanks to Joyce). Almost all of their goods were eventually returned to them.
Another couple was sitting at the table last night when Gary told his story. They had a similar incident happen several years ago, and reported the burglary to the police the same day the incident happened. The police apprehended the thief later the same day -- thanks to a very detailed report and drawings.
So, reporting crimes to the local police is not futile. No one should expect the police are going to Sherlock Holmes the case. But circumstances do occur when a crime not reported would miss the possibility of resolution.
Today I am heading to Cihuatlán to add several small items to the report Christine filed on Friday.
Who knows? Maybe one of my eccentric possessions will turn up in a hotel room with a prostitute and an emptied syringe.
It is the stuff of good stories.