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“Do you want me to walk you back?” I said over the shouts and Olympic cheers of the bustling bar. I could see the hesitation in her expression, I could tell that she didn’t want to impose, but she really didn’t walk home through the city by herself.

She spoke with a notable hesitation, “ Yes, if you wouldn’t mind. It would make me feel a little more comfortable…”

With that said I grabbed my things and told the guys I would be right back. I couldn’t let her walk home alone, especially since I was one of the many voices saying, “Stay for one more drink!”

Into the chilly city with a new companion, a lovely young lady from the July retreat (below entry). At a slow stroll, we headed into a direction of the city I have never been. Up to many stairs of this hilly city we went, higher and higher we climbed, having a rather deep conversation for only just having met each other. In fact, we made it back to her place without too much of a delay, but we paused for a long while to continue our exchange. The view was rather stunning as we overlooked the city below.

The realization of being in Peru hit me, as it does occasionally, and leaves me with a wide smile; a sky full of stars, a lovely new friend, and on the eve of a new venture (Upcoming entry, Rite of Passage), the night was perfect in so many ways.

The evening continued on a high note until I realized how late it was. My friends were still waiting for me at the bar. Oops! Time to go. With a hug and an exchange of information we parted ways and I made my way down the curving staircase carved into the mountainside. Definitely high on life and in no rush, I took my time walking back down and returning to the hum of the busy city. On my way down I passed a man on the other side coming up, I gave him an “Hola” as usual, and continued on my way…until I heard a shout from behind me and paused.

I looked at the man, his face was contorting in some strange way as he took a few wide steps and stopped in front of me. Something was wrong.

I should have kept walking. But with my head still in the positive aspect of all things, I stopped to see what I could do to quell this man’s agitation. My mistake wasn’t immediately apparent, when he spoke; he spoke forcefully, but not necessarily in a threatening manner. That came later.

He took a step toward me and repeated whatever he was saying in a Spanish I had no hopes of trying to comprehend. I tried to grasp at something, some key word he was saying because whatever he was saying seemed important. He took another step toward me.

“Stay on the defensive!” said the booming voice of my right wing personality that sliced through me with such a severity that my adrenaline kicked into production. I realized just how close the man was, he had closed the distance between us without me noticing. I slid on my heel and widened the gap, out of arms length, and just in time, because his hand darted toward me but caught nothing but air. And that’s when he got mad.

He spoke through his teeth, an obvious “tell” of anger and unpredictability I’ve taken notice of while growing up around Puerto Rican males. If I walked away now, I’d have to turn my back on him to get down the steep slope of steps that was my exit, and that seemed like the last thing I wanted to do.

The angrier he got, the more animated he became. The arm that thrust out to grab me was now pointing fiercely in my direction. He put so much force in his words that he was literally spitting with rage, and my inability to answer his questions made him more and more furious. I couldn’t tell if he was intoxicated or just extremely livid at my presence. If I wasn’t on point before, I was now, and he had my full attention. I wasn’t sure of his threats, but I was ready to answer them if he tried to grab at me again. His eyes were staring hard; the veins in his forehead and neck were pulsing.

I took notice and stared back at him anatomically, specifically to the thick highway of blood supply that was his protruding jugular. Flowing parallel to the adrenaline coursing through my body, was a host of information from an EMT friend back in the states. Information on the best spots for disabling, buckling, incapacitating or killing another human if the situation presented itself. Which, if this continued to escalate, it had…

My agile and lithe nature would probably run circles around this guy, but I wasn’t going to let over confidence blind me from the realness and the severity of the situation. He was older, and seemed slower, but he was still half a body taller than me, and he easily doubled my weight. He was a hardened Peruvian, and thick around from an assumed manual labor. If he closed the distance again and got a hold of me, being overpowered wouldn’t be too far out of the question, especially with as much weight as I’ve lost out here.

“I’d kill you in a fair fight”

“That’s not much incentive for me to fight fair, then, is it?

A favorite quote of mine, that seemed to resonate rather well in this current predicament. His voice was raised to a shout now, loud enough for him to be oblivious of the muffled “click” from the recently reinforced and spring-loaded blade releasing from its safety.

“Let him come…” taunted the other mental construct of my personality trinity. “We won’t die here…” she hissed, using the exact words from one of my most core shaking ceremonies. (Where I had a glimpse of being robbed in Cusco, Ayahuasca Wanderer entry)

The man took a step backward, which was a welcome move on his part, and started pointing to the surrounding buildings then back at me. From what I assumed, he didn’t want anyone like me on local property, I had no place in a local neighborhood. Or something…I wasn’t paying attention at this point. With his backward step, I was too busy noticing the unintentional clear path he made toward the steps.

Now or never. Stay and see it through, or push passed him and make for the steps. My left wing would have me stand my ground; the right would run the outcome probabilities and have me play it secure.

Decisions. Decisions. Hmm…

Steps it is! He was too busy trying to make me look at some building he was yelling at to see me push forward. He dropped his bag and put both hands up, assuming I was going make the first move, but I shifted to the right and took to the steps. His anger peaked and I could hear his continued spitting and barking from behind me, but he didn’t follow.

Down, down, down I went, until I returned to a part of the city I was familiar with. Finally, at the front door of the bar where my friends awaited, I took a breath, and clicked the curved blade back into its sheath.

Overall, the whole thing lasted maybe 5 minutes, and I don’t know how it would have concluded had I stayed. It could have escalated and turned into a situation, or it could have been nothing more than an angry drunk cursing at the world, but it was the first time I actually felt threatened to the point of self-defense out here. I didn’t want to hurt him, or worse, and I know I wasn’t in any mood to be battered or broken, so if it came down to him or me, well, I like the sound of my heart beat much more than his.

Get threatened in Cusco

Walk away from a potential fight in Peru

~M

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