Post by David Nei » Thu, 01 Aug 1991 03:52:13

David Neils                                         July 26, 1991            

       Mugging Incident at Caberete, Dominican Republic              
                         July 13, 1991                                

This is an account of the mugging incident on the Caberete  beach
on  Saturday July 13th.  It was about 6:45 am when I left my room
at Casa Laguna for a last walk on the beach.  I had on a pair  of
green  shorts  and  my sandals.  I was not wearing a shirt at the
time.  Since I still had to pay for my  room  charges  I  put  my
wallet  in  my  back  pocket.  I had planned to by some postcards
also.  Fortunately I had taken everything out of my wallet at the
beginning of the week.  When I left the room that morning  I  had
180  pesos,  two fifty dollar travelers checks and my mastercard.
I had just put my mastercard back in my wallet before leaving the
room because I had planned to pay for the room charges  with  the
card.   That  way  I  would  have  enough  money for the taxi and
airport tax.  

I walked across the street and down to the beach.  When I got  to
the  water  I  walked  west  or  to  the left.  It was about 7:10
because I remember looking back  to  the  east  at  the  sun  and
realizing  it  was  fairly  high  in the sky for that time in the
morning.  There were several other people walking  on  the  beach
but nobody with 200 yards.  As I walked past the last windsurfing
shop  on  my  left  I  noticed a Dominican man walking towards me
about 300 yards away.  He was walking along the high point of the
beach next to the brush and palm trees.  At about  250  yards  he
stared  at  me  and walked away from the beach into the brush.  I
didn't thing twice about the look he gave  me  until  later.   He
looked  like he was in his late thirties or early forties and was
wearing a striped orange and  purple  short  sleeve  shirt.   The
stripes  were small at about 1/4 inch thick.  He was also wearing
long pants.  

I kept walking and was about  200  yards  or  so  past  the  last
windsurfing  shop  when I caught movement out of the corner of my
left eye.  I quickly turned around and was met by three Dominican
men,  one of them being the man I had seen in the  striped  shirt
just moments before.  As soon as I made I contact they were about
15  yards  away  and  moving  fast  towards me.  If I ran I could
possibly get in more trouble as I would have to run to the  west,
away  from  the  windsurfing shops.  The guy in the striped shirt
pulled a machete out of a black sheath along his  side.   It  was
about  15  inches  long with a blade about 3 inches wide.  If his
intent was to scare the hell out of me he and  his  buddies  were
doing  a  good  job so far.  The next thing I knew one of the men
grabbed my arm and held me from behind.  The third guy just stood
there looking around to see if anybody else on the beach  noticed
what  was  going on.  The guy with the machete held it up against
my neck and placed his index finger from the other hand up to his
lips motioning me not to yell.  Then he slowly said,  "Money".  I
reached  into my back pocket,  grabbed my wallet and handed it to
the man with the machete.  As soon as he had the  wallet  in  his
hand they all took off running back into the brush.  I had a good
chance  to  look  into  each  of their eyes during the encounter.
They all had an intense fear in  their  eyes  like  they  weren't
really  in  control of the situation and the guy with the machete
looked like he was on *** or something.   I  noticed  his  eyes
were  not focusing on the same plane.  I didn't smell any ***
on their breath.  With that machete up  against  my  neck  I  was
wondering  if I was going to get killed for 180 pesos and looking
around for a possible body dumping site.  Not what you would call
a pleasant walk on the beach.  

As soon as the three men were out of site I ran back to the  Vela
Center and jumped over the fence as the staff was still sleeping.
It  was  about  7:35  am.   The first thing I did was look in the
mirror in the bathroom to see if I had been cut on the  neck.   I
wasn't  sure where that machete had been last and I wasn't taking
any chances with getting some dreadful disease.  When I  realized
I  hadn't  been  cut  I  yelled the names of the staff until they
heard me.  Jim was the first to respond and then Jeff  and  Heidi
soon  followed.  They were a bit shocked and sad that it happened
to me on my last day there.  Since I was short on cash to pay for
the taxi and airport tax Jim  lended  me  100  dollars.   I  said
goodbye  once again and then ran back to the hotel.  After paying
for my room charges I got my bags and  grabbed  a  taxi  for  the
airport.   Once  at  the  airport  I  called American Express and
arranged for the refund of the travelers checks in Miami.  I  did
not contact the local police about the incident because of a lack
of  time  and felt they probably couldn't or wouldn't do anything
about it anyway.  

For those windsurfers that are traveling alone to  the  Dominican
Republic  I  would  suggest  being  cautious about walking on the
beach at any time there is not a sufficient crowd to deter  these
muggings.   This  incident  would  not  keep me from returning to
Caberete but I would take extra precautions next time.  

If you do plan on going to  Caberete  I  would  highly  recommend
going  with  Vela Highwind Centers.  There is plenty of equipment
for rent for all abilities and the staff is unbeatable.  

                                                Still Alive,                    

                                                David Neils