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.
Mexico is nothing more than a corrupt third world banana republic and Americans need to realize this before taking a vacation to this criminal haven.
Forget the group hug, next time stash a gun in your RV to defend against these thugs. They are just like the pirates of the high seas and most boaters carry multiple weapons.
Okay I’ve been proven wrong again.
“Family values don’t end that the border!” My bad...
Gun control advocates will love this one.
I have a technical question that maybe somebody here can answer: when a newspaper article, such as this one, says the woman was “sexually assaulted”, does that mean she was raped? If so, why does it not say “raped”? I have seen stories where the victim was described as having been sexually assaulted, but it was obvious that rape had not occurred, so I was wondering if there was some hard and fast rule about the use of the two terms in newspaper land.
I was thinkin that too. I suppose the mexican border guards do a run through of your vehicle for weapons and drugs? It would be fairly easy to stash a gun in an RV opposed to a car.
Shoot, shovel, shut-up?
That’s one out of shape surfer.
I would be very carful about trying to sneak something in or out of Mexico. I knew someone who hid a bottle of liquor in their trailer. It was found. A weapons charge could be quite stiff in Mexico. Enter at your own risk, but don’t think a trip to prison down there is going to be a great option.
When you visit a nation of outlaws, don’t be surprised if you run into trouble.
Yeah...this “group hug” seems like a bunch of new age hippie crap. I wonder if this “group hug” made the sexually assaulted lady feel any better?
The surfer community seems to adopt a lot of this new age nonsense. Maybe they have spent to much time in the saltwater and their brains have turned soggy.
Still...NOBODY deserves to have this happen.
Here’s a better idea. Don’t go to Mexico. It has always worked for me.
Back in the early 70s, I took a bus from Tia Juana to Mazatlan. At 3:00 AM in the middle of the desert Federalis took everybody off the bus and went through all our bags.
They asked specifically about guns.
I assume that country is disarmed, except for the banditos?
Heaven forbid you should use this experience as a lesson to GET A GUN.
"It could have ended 100 different ways much worse.
Yeah -- for the bad guys. Shoot a gun at my house with me and my loved ones inside and they would either be dead or still running.
Of course not, but it is Mexico, I've seen the stories for years about the risks and crimes against tourists there. Thus, I wouldn't go there. I also would never go to Jamaica again either....I prefer a more civilized law abiding destination as it clearly reduces personal risk.
Old news. This has been going on for decades. As Mexico struggles with the drug lords for control, the violence has gotten substantially worse.
American citizens are being kidnapped in Laredo and taken across the border by drug lords where they are often held for ransom and, sometimes, murdered. The State Department finally had to issue a travel warning about Mexico a year or two ago because the crime and violence have gotten so bad.
This is the stuff that Bush, Fox and Claderon DON’T want you to know. I live within 150 miles of the Texas-Mexico border and used to love going to the border towns. However, because of the crime and the violence, I refuse to go.
Too bad, too!! I used to really enjoy it.
My feet will never touch mexican soil.
Mexico doesn’t much care about it’s own people, why would they care about me?
I went to TJ about 15 years ago...It was nothing then and it’s still nothing. I will never spend a penny in that turd world country again.
“Forget the group hug, next time stash a gun in your RV to defend against these thugs.”
Sorry, but that is bad thing to do in Mexico! They will toss your can in in jail, with little hope of getting out, for as little as finding a tiny 22 round or a shotgun shell under your car seat.