I have chosen to never take up golf. I know I would like it and I don’t need any other activity to take away my limited time on the river. My hat goes off to those who can combine golf and flyfishing. I just get too obsessive when starting a new activity or sport. And besides that, every sport I’ve taken up as an adult has brought me within a 7x tippet’s width of death. Only because I’ve had a guardian angel on my shoulder, am I still able to sit here tonight and write this. Mountain climbing (alpine and rock), skiing, hang-gliding, hunting and fishing have all had their shots at me. I have given up all but bow-hunting turkey and fishing. Yes, even fishing brought me close to death, but not in the way you might think. One might associate fishing near-death experiences with a drift boat losing its anchor in a rapids and getting it hung up and flipping the boat; falling in at the upper “Y” on the Thompson and being swept to the other side or drinking too much single malt after a successful day on the river and dying of alcohol poisoning. Although I have had close calls with all of the above, I’ll tell you about the strangest experience I’ve had.
A friend and I were taking a two week trip to Argentina and Tierra del Fuego to fish for Steelhead and Sea-Run Browns. Our first stop was in Buenos Aires and I had heard of a small cool little hotel named the Art Hotel. My friend and I checked in and were pleasantly surprised with its old style even down to the skeleton type keys for our rooms with squeaky wood floors. We were told there were safes in our rooms for our money and valuables. Well in mine anyway, not it my friend’s. We were going to meet back down at the lobby desk where a lady with a very strong resemblance to Selma Hayek, was taking of hotel business behind the desk. My friend was in the process of giving her his cash to put in the hotel safe and I was standing next to him and then I noticed a strange look in “Selma‘s” eyes. I looked over at my friend and there was another guy standing between us. At first it didn’t register with me what was going on but I looked at the door and there was another guy standing there with his hand close to an automatic pistol in the front of his belly stuck in his belt. I looked quickly back to the guy between me and mi amigo and saw that he had an old revolver pointed at the woman behind the counter and was grabbing the $700 cash my friend was handing to her. And she was getting the money out of her safe. Then I noticed that revolver guy was at my left side between me and auto-pistol guy with his gun pressed into my ribs. I went into this “other life”.
I’ve seen enough movies to know when a great opportunity presents itself. The pistol in my ribs was old and I could see that it only had one bullet in the chambers beside the one under the hammer. I calculated the time allowed to pull this off. So (my hands up in the “stick ‘em up” position) my left hand slammed down on revolver guy’s gun hand and grabbed it hard and replaced it quickly with my right hand. I then put my left arm and hand around this guy and pointed him straight at the guy and the door as he reached for his automatic. He fired first right into the chest of his buddy between us. I fired the next two shots into his forehead. Both robbers were down. By God, the day was saved.
That was went through my mind in the span of two seconds before I raised my hands higher in the air and let the guy next to me search my pockets for anything of value. Since I was close to the front desk, I leaned my right side against it, concealing my wallet which was in my right-side front pocket. He missed it completely. My friend, in the mean time was trying to throw his wallet down the hall but revolver guy saw him and retrieved it and got not only his cash but his wallet with his credit cards, ID, and passport. Luckily the robbers were satisfied with stealing all of my friend’s money and important stuff and lifting all of the cash from the hotel and let us off without firing off any shots. Before they left, they took cell phones and money from a couple sitting in the lobby-room who didn’t know what was going on until a gun was pointed at them.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at the police station where the desk lady translated our experience to the police, who we knew were not going to do anything. And to add insult to injury the hotel told us that they were not going to reimburse my friends money even though the safe in his room was not working. When I returned home and told friends of mine (who were policemen) of the story they all three of them, independently, told me it sounded like an inside job. And it could have easily been. My friend tried again to get his money back from the hotel managers and they told him NO. So I wrote up a Travel Advisor report stating what my police friends told me and sent the managers a copy before I submitted it to TA. They returned my email stating what they could do to keep me from submitting my story of their hotel. I told them to send my friend his money. And they did immediately. I did not submit the report. I wish I had, now.
We got away with our lives and a great story. I obviously never recommended that hotel again. We also had some good fishing later in our trip. So, all was not lost. All I have to say now is “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. The Shadow Knows”.