Skip to comments.Surfer's Baja Tale Is Warning To Others (American Tourists Robbed And Raped In Mexico)
Posted on 11/19/2007 11:16:35 AM PST by DogByte6RER
Surfer's Baja tale is warning to others
Camping trip ended in robbery, assault
By Terry Rodgers
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
November 19, 2007
Pat Weber didn't plan on being part of a crime trend that has generated worldwide buzz this past week, but he didn't have much choice.
The Encinitas resident and surfing instructor got lost on a dirt road in Baja California last month while looking for a surfing spot called Cuatro Casas. He and his girlfriend decided to park for the night on a bluff overlooking the ocean.
Just after sundown, two men wearing ski masks approached Weber's motor home and ordered him to come out. He refused but surrendered after they fired a bullet through a window.
The assailants held a gun to Weber's head while they ransacked the motor home and took about $10,000 worth of items. They also sexually assaulted his girlfriend, Weber said.
It is the policy of The San Diego Union-Tribune not to identify victims of sexual crimes.
The Oct. 23 attack was one of at least six armed robberies and carjackings in the past five months that targeted surfers en route to camping spots in northern Baja. Some of the victims reported their experiences to the police, while others posted their stories on surfing and travel Web sites.
The Union-Tribune published details of the crimes Wednesday. Since then, blogs and TV and radio stations based everywhere from Southern California to Australia have covered the topic.
They have featured tourists who never encountered trouble in Baja and those who stopped visiting the peninsula's remote, picturesque beaches because of crimes that happened 10 or 20 years ago. A few included safety tips ahead of the Thanksgiving vacation stretch.
On Friday, a crew from CNN came to town to produce a segment about what Weber and his girlfriend went through.
I'm not asking for sympathy, said Weber, who said he went public to warn other travelers.
Weber said feels guilty that he couldn't defend his girlfriend, and he keeps second-guessing himself about the decision to camp in an isolated area. His sleep has been fitful, and he often feels a knot of emotions.
I'm like a piñata on wheels, loaded up and ready to be smashed open, he said.
Despite the trauma, Weber is thankful to be alive. (The gunmen) had all the cards, he said. It could have ended 100 different ways much worse.
Weber, 47, had logged more than 500 days in Baja and has taken dozens of students there over the past 10 years. Now he vows to never return.
I can't in good conscience take someone down there and say it's safe, because it's not, he said. For me, this is the end of an era.
On Friday, Weber invited friends and past students to a surfing session and potluck lunch at South Carlsbad State Beach, the home base for his San Diego Surfing Academy.
Weber said the group hug, his term for the event, will help heal his mental and emotional wounds. It's part of my catharsis, he said. I'm still numb and reeling from the experience. It's like a bad dream.
When the CNN crew showed up, Weber pointed out the bullet hole in his motor home.
That, I'm not going to get fixed, he said. I'm just going to plug it with a cork from a wine bottle.
Amid the rising concern about what some surfers see as sophisticated, paramilitary-style crimes in Baja, longtime visitors to the peninsula said tourists can take steps to reduce their chances of becoming victims.
They advised people to travel in caravans of two or more vehicles and to stay in campgrounds that have security guards. Some surfers urged campers to bring a dog and said it's a good idea to have a cell phone or rent a satellite phone.
When in Mexico at a remote site, you are vulnerable and you need to pay attention, said Kent Layton, who operates a fenced-in surf camp at Cuatro Casas called the Boat Ranch. Be proactive. Have a plan, and whenever possible, leave yourself an out.
Layton also recommends that travelers leave a copy of their itinerary with friends and family members.
A couple of years ago I read where the police were renting out their uniforms to bring in a few extra bucks, and not caring too much about who the renters were.
It looks like they cut out the middleman.
Thanks for the update! That may well have been this case.
a beeg one
I hope that no one thinks that this is an unusual event. Maybe we don’t hear about it so much since the Mexican authorities allowed all those American style resorts and condos to be built in Baja, but this used to be an every day experience for tourists who strayed off the beaten path in Baja.
It’s really a shame because Mexico has some beautiful coasts, wonderful beaches, and world-class waves for surfing. I haven’t been back in over five years.
Detroiters got to Toledo on vacation........
I remember that name from a Cheech & Chong album. There’s a variety of weed named after it. Somewhere between Acapulco Gold and Toledo Windowbox in quality.
I have been to Mexico. Once. Only for a day trip just over the border. And that once was enough.
It's beyond me why anyone would want to 'vacation' in Mexico.
Detroit, where the weak are killed and eaten”....
wasn’t there a movie that had that as its subtitle?
I stopped going down there almost 15 years ago.
It’s a third-world country that views gringos as prey.
The old days of going down there and getting ‘drunk and disorderly’ have long been over.
There’s lots of places to go right here in the ‘good old US of A’ that don’t have the risk associated with a night out in Messico.
Screw that sh!thole place.
I came across a letter from a deceased relative who traveled to Mexico in 1941. He made it sound like a beautiful country. Maybe it was a little safer at that time.
Go to Viet Nam and stay out of Sai Gon. Hundreds and hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches. They love Americans and the worst sex situations you will run into are the mamas trying to talk you into marrying their daughters.
So sad. My favorite restaraunt in the world is La Mansion in Reynose. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
reminds me of a song from the 60’s from Jay And The Americanos “and I heard someone say” “Jose’s on his way” “your in trouble Plenty”
Baja is so beautiful. Desert meeting the ocean. I’d love to drive all the way to Cabo if it was safe. I wish it was part of the USA. Wish we could swap the Bay area and LA for Baja.
It was a similar one. I read about another person from Texas who was caught with ammo in his vehicle in Mexico, and was waiting on the outcome of this case. Could be your guy!
Surfer’s Baja tale is warning to others”
A lot of people got the warning two years ago.
There's no need to go, especially when half of Mexico is already here!
Ping—Hey Guenevere—check this out. Very similar to what happened to your neighbor’s son and his girlfriend.
Music to read this thread by...
LOL! WiseOldPro. You can't surf crime waves.
“Weber said the group hug, his term for the event, will help heal his mental and emotional wounds”
His wounds? What about his girlfriend...he does not mention her horrible experience...
My, my - a Statist like you is advocating illegally taking a firearm into a foreign nation? What is the world coming too?
Thats a really bad idea. The federal thugs down there set up roadblocks and search vehicles for weapons.
After being stopped at one of these checkpoints back in 95, I saw the writing was on the wall. Ive never gone back.
Thats what Id suggest - just stay out of Mehico all together. If they want gringo tourist dollars, let them clean up their socialist criminal cesspool.
Mexico has very strict gun control. A caller to Dennis Prager’s show said that Mexico has always been problematic, but back in the 50s and 60s it was at least livable. Then gun control came and now the citizens are helpless against the Mexican Mafia, the Federales, the local police, drug and gun smugglers, etc.
I’ve heard the same thing about Venezuela, and look how insane that country is now. I would never go to a foreign country except Canada or Costa Rica. It’s not worth the risk.
The surfer guy in the story said he’s not going back to Mexico, but he’d better locate the slug in the trailer if he changes his mind. The Federales will find it and charge him with a felony.
North American Union? Anyone?
>>Mexico has very strict gun control. A caller to Dennis Pragers show said that Mexico has always been problematic, but back in the 50s and 60s it was at least livable. Then gun control came and now the citizens are helpless against the Mexican Mafia, the Federales, the local police, drug and gun smugglers, etc.
That’s what I figured. I’ve talked to a young Mexican professional here in the US who described the towns along the drug routes in Mexico that are run by gangsters.
When I told him that they would have to get that under control, he said, “Good luck.” He’s powerless, but more importantly, just accepts it.
I wish we had taken Baja as part of the US when Mexico nearly defaulted on their debt back in the 90s. It would have been a lot of work to convert it to our laws and civilization, but worth it, I’d think. It’s too nice a place to be in Mexico.
Very strange indeed!