Apr
05

Held at gunpoint in Monteverde.

I only had planned to write one post about Monteverde, Costa Rica but given the event that occurred I will now be writing two. I am not going to keep y’all waiting about what happened so I will post about the incident first. I will then post about the actual town and the things I did (along with video of me screaming like crazy while zip-lining).

The town of Monteverde, Costa Rica from atop of a nearby mountain.

During my zip-lining tour in Monteverde I had the pleasure of meeting Sherrie & Sallie they are sisters traveling from California. We hit it off right away and after the whole tour we both had already planned to do some hiking around town so thought we should stick together and go together. After gathering our swimsuits we met up in the city center and waited for the bus. The bus was to come by at 3pm and a bus did show up at 3pm so we got on it. Once we were on it I asked if it was the right one and well nope it wasn’t. We were supposed to get on one that had just left. So we had a choice to make… pay a taxi $10 to get us where we wanted to go or walk. So ummm yes we started walking.

So off we went walking and as we were walking we had a choice of two hikes we could do that were listed in the Lonely Planet. We picked the further one because it had a waterfall. On our way we tried to get a ride but no-one would stop. Finally a family stopped and asked us where we were going. We let them know and come to find out the one we wanted to do was way to far to walk too & would be a difficult hike.  So we mentioned to them that we passed a small post with pictures of a waterfall and asked them if that would be a nice hike. The family said yes it is a nice hike and nice waterfall. We thought SCORE lets do that.

Me at the waterfall that almost cost me my life (ahh a bit dramatic I know).

We made it to the entrance of the trail. We saw a small booth was there and looked like we were supposed to pay an entrance fee. We looked around to see if anyone was there and nothing. So we thought okay lets just go, no harm done. We made our way down and along the way we saw monkeys and just beautiful natural scenery everywhere. We finally made it to the waterfall & were in awe. It was so pretty and just amazing. We spent a while just sitting there watching it. It was time to make our way up, because we did not want to be caught in the dark. On our way up we mentioned how awesome it was that we found this trail and waterfall along with other small talk. I was walking ahead and a bit faster then them two.

Then out of nowhere as we are about to reach the top (exit) I see a guy in a black hoody pointing a gun at my face. He had his entire face covered and the only things visible were his eyes and nose. My heart dropped to the floor and I tell my self to stay calm. He then crossed his arms and all I could see now was the point of the gun & his eyes. The entire conversation occurred in Spanish.

He says “what are y’all doing down here?” I tell him “we just came to see the waterfall and are now heading back” He said “Why are y’all trespassing?” I told him “We did not know we were trespassing. We did see a both at the entrance and wanted to pay, but no one was there.”. He said “I want a $100 from each of you right now” I said “I am sorry I don’t have $100 on me right now.” He said “ask the girls.” (they just caught up to me one of them had no clue he had a gun because of where she was standing and the other hid behind a dirt wall I had just turned from and encountered the man). I ask the girls if they have any money on them. They ask what’s going on I tell them don’t ask questions just answer me. One pulls $1000 Colones ($2) out of her swimsuit bottom says “this is all I have” (in a joking manner and laughing) and then the other one hands me a $20 bill. I tell him this is all they have and all I have is $15,000 Colones ($30).  He said “I want a $100”, I tell him again we don’t have it. I offer him my camera and a pair of sunglasses. He said no he wants the money. I am scared even more and apologize for trespassing and then tell him “look I can go to my hotel and get you the money if that is what you really want”. He says “okay lets do this I am going to let you go but if by 6pm $100 from each of you is not at the entrance desk I am going to come and get you along with the police because I know were y’all are staying and y’all are trespassing.” I said okay sounds good and at 6pm the money will be dropped off for sure”. He said, “Okay give me all the money you have now and go along”. I hand him the money and the three of us run off to the main street.  I am still scared shitless the girls start asking a million questions I tell them to shut up until we get back to the paved road and are away from here.

We have a long walk to go and as I see people pass us by on bikes and cars I cant help but think it may be him. We make sure no one is following us and just keep going. Finally we make it to the paved road. I am still in shock and can’t believe what happened. I explain to the girls what just happen. I asked them “were we just held at gunpoint?” They answered “yes”. I tell them I want to cry they both hug me and tell me not to cry. I hold the tears in and we keep walking back to town.

We make it to their hotel we sit there talking for a little bit and discuss about telling the police. In the end we decide not too. They invited me in for a drink, but I declined (I know it is very rare that I would decline a drink) I just wanted to get to my hostel and lock the door and be safe. So we say our good byes and I make it back to my hostel. As soon as I get there I ask the receptionist if they have a guard watching the premises at night. He told me yes and then asked why. I explained to him what happened and he was shocked because stuff like that never happens in Monteverde.

I went to my room and locked my self in. I then called my friend Jessica through Skype and start crying. She asked what was going on I explained and she just listened to me and let me cry. After I got myself together she gave me some encouraging words and reminded me that that could have happened anywhere. Then while talking with her I here my name it’s the girls they came to my hostel with the cops, they said they couldn’t let it go.

I go out there and the cop asks me to explain to him in detail what happen. So I explained and he apologized for what happened and promised me he was going to make sure that it never happens again. The receptionist talks with the cops and tells him its strange the suspect said, “why are you trespassing?” It means he must be someone who owns or lives on the property. The receptionist then tells the cop that the son of the owner fits the description we gave and that everyone in town knows he is a druggie and crazy in the head. The cop then knows exactly who he is talking about and tells me he is going to go interrogate him. He asked me if I too was leaving tomorrow and I tell him I was. He wanted me to stay a day and file a report. I told him I couldn’t. I know I had no rush in being anywhere, but I did not want to get caught up in paperwork and drama I just wanted to move on.  I said good bye to the girls again and that was the end of that.

Now a few days later I must admit I am still very shaken up by what happened. My nerves are now a fucking mess when I am walking around and especially on transportation days. I cannot help it. I know it’s going to take time for my nerves to calm down again and in the mean time I can only just be extra alert of my surroundings.  I have never had a gun pointed to my face and I sure as hell have never been held at gunpoint. All I keep doing is thanking God for being with me and protecting me. I am glad everything happened the way it happened because in the end the guy was happy with the little money we gave him. Loosing $30 is nothing compared to loosing my life. I hope something like this never happens to me again or anyone of you. It is such a horrible feeling, that makes you see things completely differently.

P.S. No we did not go back and drop off the $100 (we aren’t stupid). Sherrie & Sallie I kept calling y’all girls because y’all are both young at heart.

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Comments

  1. Having a gun pointed at you is not the best way to spend the afternoon, for sure. I’m glad they called the police, so hopefully this won’t happen to someone else. Sounds like he was getting bolder (or how many others just didn’t call the police?)

    Do your best to not let it make you become jaded. Be aware, don’t be paranoid…or even worse: don’t be afraid to travel and explore the world outside of your “safe” cocoon like most people do.
    James Schipper recently posted..How to Escape your 300-Mile Circle and See the World

  2. Wow, that sounds absolutely terrifying!! *BIG HUGS*

    At least you all managed to stay safe, and didn’t lose too much money. I would be completely shaken up too if something like that happened to me, but it was just bad luck, so try not to let it affect your trip too much :)
    Lauren recently posted..I Just Booked a One-Way Ticket Out of England…

    • I feel your hugs all the way over here Lauren thank you for them. I am also glad I managed to stay safe & didnt loose to much money. I had just enough to make him happy so its all good for me.

  3. QueenBrain12 says:

    Stay strong my friend. It sucks you had to go through something like this but it really can happen anywhere. You have preached that to me many times.
    I support you and your dream so keep living it and don’t let this affect your next destinations.

    xoxo
    QueenB

  4. What a scary experience, I’m very glad that you are okay. I hope you don’t let fear get to your too much – you’re sharing a very inspiring journey, and you shouldn’t let fear get in your way. Also I must add, you sometimes hear stories of corruption, or police who refuse to help people in a situation like this. I’m glad the police here seemed willingly to help you in this situation.
    Alouise recently posted..A Traveler Ahoy Update

    • Thanks Alouise, you are right I will continue to share my inspiring story. As for the cops yes they were so helpful and very concerned. Monteverde is really a picture perfect mountain town. I would have never thought it would have happened there.

  5. I am so glad you are ok Jaime. And, I am so sorry something like that happened to you.

  6. Stay safe bro, you handled it the right way.
    Mike recently posted..Top four road trips of my life so far

  7. This is very scary and the last thing you would ever want to happen, especially when you are so close to the start of your trip. I really hope it hasn’t shaken your confidence to carry on travelling, the most important thing is that you all got out of the situation unharmed. Keep your chin up and remember it is so true what your friend said; a lot worse could have happened even in your home town, so please don’t let it get you down and just carry on being alert and as careful as possible.
    Julia recently posted..Is This An Itinerary I See Before Me

    • Thank Julia… I thought the same thing. Damn so early on in my trip I am already going through this. Maybe it just means I have now gotten it out of my way… who knows. I am glad though that I am safe & yes I will continue to travel away and just be way more alert!!!
      Jaime recently posted..Music Monday – Live Like You Were Dying

  8. I’ll reiterate what I said on Twitter the night it happened: I’m very sorry you experienced this but glad you’re ok and no doubt will have an AWESOME time :)
    Anthony recently posted..Choose to be Greedy

  9. O my gosh – That is so scary. I would freak out and cry too. I’m glad you’re safe and sound. I know you’ll calm down as you go to other places but I’m glad the guy took only $30.00 Like you said God with you and you got away from this crazy man.

    • Thanks Sarah, glad I am not the only one that would have cried…lol!!! I am also glad it happened how it happened. I am safe now and will continue to be alert.

  10. Wow, every travelers worst nightmare. Glad to hear it only cost you $30, could have been much worse. I hope you can shake it, and get back out there. There’s a lot more waterfalls to see.
    Mike Lenzen recently posted..Traveled Earth Business Cards

    • Oh Mike you aid it perfectly “every travelers worst nightmare”… I didnt think of it like that but damn it really is. I am out here and going to continue to travel away!

  11. Monica "Momo" Cantu says:

    WOW is all I really have to say. This story is very detailed and I can feel your anxiety when all of this occured. But I hope now you know that even though your are backpacking and traveling and mostly having fun in the REAL world there are bad people everywhere! You have to be safe Jaime and be careful not to travel on your own, you ought to be happy this crazy person didn’t do anything else to you or those two girls. I know now you are going to be extra cautious when it comes to that from now on. But I also DO NOT want you to let this hold you back from enjoying this trip! You are having a blast and like we both said this morning no money is worth your life! In London you will encounter pick pockets all the time…. but picking pockets is so different than someone holding a gun to your face :(. I love you Jaime so be safe out there and enjoy life! Don’t let this hold you back baby! If it happens it happens and God will be there to protect you! :)

  12. Yikes, sounds like you handled it the best way and glad that you are all safe. Good on you for keeping your cool. It’s a shame that shit like this happens and it could have been much worse. I wish you safe travels from here out.
    Peter recently posted..I am a Pirate!

  13. I’m so sorry this has happened to you Jaime, especially so early on in your trip. Just remember that things like this are very rare, and the chances of it happening to you again even rarer! Take care and try to put it behind you.
    Erin recently posted..Photo of the Week- Veggie Cafe over the Water- Bocas del Toro

  14. What a crazy thing to happen. I’m glad you and the girls are ok.
    jill- Jack and JIll Travel recently posted..Carless- Jobless- and Homeless

  15. Oye. Good job keeping it under control and it sounds like y’all played the situation right. It could have happened anywhere Jaime.

    Glad you are safe.
    Justin Hamlin recently posted..Foto Friday

  16. Jaime, I was so worried when I saw that first tweet but I’m so glad you’re safe & you didn’t lose much. I’m also glad you’re pushing through & not letting this stop your trip, even if it might be tempting to call it quits. This is just one of a million things on this trip that will show you you’re stronger than you ever thought. Someday soon I hope you’ll be able to look back & say, that was scary as hell but it sure did make for a good blog post!
    Ali recently posted..Adventures in Flight Booking

    • Thanks Ali, I am so sorry I couldn’t chat with you on skype (we need to soon though anyway). Yes I can not let this stop me from living my dream. It could have happened anywhere and well I just have to move on. Oh & yes I hope that days comes soon cus I Know right now its to early to think about it like that…lol!!!

  17. I’m glad you told the police. I think its our responsibility to future tourists to report these things.
    ayngelina recently posted..Coca reveals the real Northern Chile

  18. You are very brave. I have no idea how I would react. I was mugged once in Boston, but I couldn’t see a gun. If there was any good out of it, I’m not VERY watchful wherever I am. Once you lose your sense of safety, your protectionism instincts kick in – all the time.

    I think you deserve another skinny dip.

    • I always thought I would flip out if something like that happened to me but am glad I held it together and everything happened how it did. You are right about our protectionism kicking in once we look our sense of safety because now I am alert 24/7.

      Oh & I wanna go for another skinny dip soon…. not sure where the next one will be. Sure it will be a while :(

  19. Thanking God you are safe!! I often pray for safety and protection – doesn’t mean scary people Arrhenius there but I pray to be safe through those situations.

    As a few others said, it is good that the girls reported it to hopefully prevent future dramas with that man. I bet talking to the police made everything even more real for you.

    Stay safe and keep exploring m’dear — I want to meet you and give you a big hug in a few months!!
    Heather recently posted..Tasmania Eats

  20. I am so proud of how you handled yourself. Definitely shows how important it is to know a bit of the language of where you’re traveling. Stay safe dude!!

    • Thanks Allison, I am proud of myself too because I thought I would have flipped out but i didnt. I held it together and glad it all was okay in the end.

  21. My heart was racing just reading this. A great reminder that these things DO happen. Nice job through it all.

    I agree with Ben – you deserve another skinny dip.
    The NVR Guys recently posted..Travelogue – avoiding “Memory” in Prague

    • Yes things do happen especially when you least expect them.

      Oh & as for skinny dipping didn’t think it was going to so soon but yeah it happened last night. Had a blast~

  22. Oh boy … wow, yeah that had to be a really rough thing to deal with man. I am glad your safe and I guess that is actually about the only thing I can say. I have no idea how I would react in that situation, sounds like you were calm and collected during it, and that is great.
    Scott recently posted..Doner Kebab Carver Hall of Fame Opens in Istanbul

    • I honestly thought I would react how you say you would, but I guess when it actually happens you are so calm & nothing is crossing your mind because you are just 100% concerned about the situation you are in.

  23. I am SO sorry to hear about this, but glad that the three of you are ok. Thankfully the guy didn’t try anything else! It is good the girls reported it to the police though, it’s important to increase awareness about what’s going on in the area. Hope your nerves settle and you can get back to having fun!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Jillian, yeah I am also glad we are okay and that they told the police. My nerves are still a bit off but they are not as crazy as just after the event.

  24. Holly cow! You handled the situation way better than I would have done. Mind you I have been threatened once when I was a teenager and it was a really scary experience. I am glad you and the girls are safe, and hope you won’t encounter “adventures” like this during your amazing trip!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      I think when you are put in the situation Joseph you really just handle it the right way. You just have to use common sense. Glad nothing happened to you as a teenager and are fine now.

  25. Just gonna say that I’m so glad you’re okay and am happy that you seem to be coping with it in a healthy way. Stay strong!!!!
    David recently posted..Helsinki- The Daughter of the Baltic – Chicago to Helsinki on American Airlines Business &amp Finnair Economy

  26. Wow Jaime, that is so scary!!! I completely understand why your nerves would be a wreck, but it’s true, that could happen anywhere. Just keep your head up and be thankful that everything turned out all right. I’m so glad you’re okay!
    Kim recently posted..9 Months Until Our RTW!

  27. This is just an incredible and terrifying story. I have never, ever had anything remotely so frightening happen to me while traveling. I’m sorry it happened to you so early in your traveling life. It sounds like you have a great support system, though, and it sounds like you took all the right steps during the gunpoint holdup and afterwards. You survived beautifully. I just hope this is your one and only experience with this and that you recover soon!

    • I am so glad Sabina you have never had to go though something like this & I hope you never have too. I also was a bit upset it happened so early on my trip, but now I feel a bit better. Maybe this means I have got it over with and wont happen again through out the rest of my trip.

  28. Crazy in the head, indeed. Sorry you had that experience, seems like just wrong place/wrong time. I don’t blame you for not wanting to stick around for the paperwork. I haven’t been to Monteverde in years, but I do remember it being very tranquil. I hope you can get past this and lower your guard enough so you can relax. A little caution is good (not that you weren’t being cautious), but having to run around paranoid is no one’s idea of fun.

    • Thanks Eileen, yeah I think I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Monteverde is still very tranquil and beautiful, I loved it and would go back again.

  29. Jennifer with @TwoYearsOff says:

    Wow, that’s horrible! So scary! I’m glad you’re okay and hope that this is a really rare thing. I think you reacted very well to the situation. I don’t know if I’d be that composed.

  30. That is one hell of a story Jaime! I’m glad that you’re ok and I hope this doesn’t scare you away from travel! There are crazies everywhere…
    Aaron @ Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures recently posted..Celebrating Life and Travel Heroism

  31. Good lord you would have handled that much better than I would have. I am so glad that you are okay. I know I was a little freaked out when you posted it on your Facebook. You’re going on the fast track pace to being a seasoned traveler for sure.
    Erica recently posted..Our Cliche Packing List

  32. Oh wow, that sounds like such an intense and terrifying experience! I have no idea what I would have done in that situation… but I guess no one really does until they’re faced with it, right? Sounds like you kept your shit together and stayed calm, though!
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Photo of the Week- Southwestern Mountain Range

    • Exactly Christy no one knows how they will react until it happens to them. I sure did keep my shit together and stayed calm, i was so scared its crazy!

  33. OMG!! I’m in shock by reading this! It’s a shame this happened to you, but you managed the situation pretty good; and thank God everything turned out alright.

    I know you must be still pretty shaken up and with full alert, but don’t let this ruin your trip and prevent you from having a great time out there. :)
    Norbert recently posted..British Columbia- Where Nature Leaves You Speechless

  34. Gosh, that’s horrible. Sorry about your experience mate.
    Roy recently posted..A Tale Of Two Mexican Cities

  35. I’m a zip line fanatic so I’ll check back for that post but Gettin’ mugged, that is bad. Even just threatened is not fun – don’t let it darken your overall experience.

    A tip I learned log ago: never carry more money than you need and disperse it amongst your pockets so if held up, just empty one pocket, toss it to the ground while walking backwards, away from the assailant. Tell them that’s all you have.

    Continue to stay safe!
    Acceleratedstall recently posted..Near Miss

    • Not sure when part 2 will be posted since I have had horrible internet connection cant upload the video.

      Thats a good idea hadnt thought about that. I will do that from now on!!!

  36. just got back to civilization from the Andaman Islands and thought I’d check to see what you have been up to and holy fuck!!! Jaime I am so sorry this happened to you, especially so early in your trip. I have already become somewhat jaded by all the scammers I have encountered, especially in India but nothing compared what you went through. Stay safe but don’t let it take away your amazing sense of adventure… it sounds like you have already moved on (just read your post about your evening with the drag queen! LOOOVED it!)
    d
    Darren recently posted..Taj Mahal- An Iconic Monument

    • Just now seeing these comments. I am sorry for the late reply!

      Yeah I cant believe it happened either but am just glad nothing major happend & glad I am safe. I learned a lot from this and am not letting it damper my trip at all. I worked to hard for this to let that man screw it up. I am enjoying it 100% and just being careful and more alert.

  37. Well, I’m glad you got the bad sh*t out of the way early on! Seriously though, I’m glad you’re okay and that you realize now that you can get through things like this. I agree with ‘the girls'; this type of thing can happen down the street from my apartment, especially as the police id’d the guy as a local druggie/crazy. Chin up and keep going…before long I’m sure it will be a great story! Cheers!
    Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..Taking A Small Bite Out Of The Big Apple

    • Thanks Gillian, I am also glad I got this out of the way early on. I have heard from everyone that at some point in your trip you will encounter something like this or a pickpocket etc.. So I hope this means nothing bad for the next while. I will continue with my chin up and trucking away!

  38. So sorry to hear what happened to you. Glad you came out of it well.

    Suspect everyone and trust nobody. That is the safest way to travel.

    When I travel I always carry a tough rolled up magazine (i.e. rolled up paper) and several ball point pens. It is NOT illegal to carry a rolled up magazine or ball point pens, BUT… in an tactical defence situation they can become extremely effective weapons. I always use reflections in shop windows to watch people on the other side of the street to see if they may be hostile. I constantly monitor the sound of footsteps behind me to see if they speed up etc. I monitor body language of everyone. When hiking I always suspect something / someone may be around the next rock. I constantly scan far to near left to right as I hike (especially solo hiking and especially if at night).

    You did the right thing – the graveyard is full of heros – $30 bucks is far better than paying with a life. However, always be aware of everything, and everyone. Monitor shadows, noises, shapes, smells, and take in everything – they all provide intel. Trust your instincts. I also carry a dummy wallet full of scrap paper covered with a real $5 or $10 note. It is far easier to throw this dummy wallet several feet away and make the mugger go after it. As they do so, strike, or run! Always plan and pre-empt a situation. It may seem romantic to stroll off the well beaten path and see where the dirt trail takes you–but in this day and age it is far better to use google maps to recon the area, plan before you go, and know all exit routes.

    Krav Maga – it is by far the most effective thing to learn before hitting the road!

    Good luck, peace and bon voyage!

    • Thanks Aviv, some of the tips you give me I knew about but have stopped using them. I will start using them again. You are right about the dummy wallet, I dont carry one at all and guess I should just incase.

  39. That’s intense, Jamie. While it may have been traumatizing at the time, it’s over with and now you have a killer story to tell (and you told it excellently, by the way). Try your best to not be freaked out by everything now, but I can understand how such an experience could taint the rest of your trip. Best of luck man.
    Ross Roams recently posted..Day 186- Escaping Morocco Seville and Faro

    • Thanks Ross, I have actually used this as a lesson learned and use it as a positive thing now. I know it wasn’t my fault but it taught me a lot. I am not allowing this man to taint my trip. I worked to hard for it. I am trucking away and making the most of it!

  40. That sucks Jaime! I know how you feel. Just several months ago I was mugged at gunpoint in Buenos Aires. I was pretty spooked for a few days at least.

    You’ve earned your backpacker merit badge for being cool under pressure!
    Abrazos

  41. i missed this blog post!… so glad all of you were ok… sucks to be afraid of something… worst part is after it happened, the fear still lingers somewhere at the back of our mind… stay safe Jaime…
    flip recently posted..Deja Vu in the Old Quarters, Hanoi: Three New Learnings

    • It’s all good. Yeah Im glad everything happened the way it happened. You are right though the fear sometimes still lingers in the back of my mind!

  42. That is crazy! I have traveled all over Costa Rica and never had anything like this happen. The only time I have ever had to fork out money was to bribe cops out of a speeding ticket. In a rental car its an inevitable incident. I one time bribed a cop out of a $900 speeding ticket with also 15,000 colones. ($30) ha its the little things in life. Terrifying story but glad you made it out safe and sound. Happy Travels.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Oh wow that was a good bribe that saved you a lot of money. Yay this is the scariest thing to happen to me on the road. It was crazy, but I do not blame or hate CR for it… it could have happened anywhere. Im just glad I came out alive and okay.

  43. Gosh. One of the things that scare me most when traveling. I’m glad that you went off free and unharmed. Never mind the 30 dollars.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      It is a scary thought, but the truth is it can happen anywhere even at home. So don’t let something like this scare you from exploring the amazing world we live in. I am glad I was unharmed and that it was only $30 I lost, not my life.

  44. Wow, you seem to be in the wars – poor thing!!
    This guys sadly wasnt so lucky – http://www.jsonline.com/news/waukesha/milwaukeearea-man-killed-in-costa-rica-rs9sc2r-206521501.html
    Sam @ Travellingking.com recently posted..Ayutthaya Kingdom -The Ancient Capital of Bangkok (PHOTO BLOG)

    • Jaime Davila says:

      OMG Sam I just read that wow. I am so lucky this wasn’t anything more than what it was and my heart breaks for this man. He was 2 days from going home. That is like something out of a movie. Why do people feel the need for violence?

  45. Yikes! Good storytelling, had me on the edge of my seat. After 6 trips through Costa Rica I have to say I’ve never felt in danger of this and have always felt quite safe. Always good to stay aware while traveling anywhere though. Glad to hear you made it out unscathed :)

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Jaja thank you so much Miles. Yeah I mean honestly this can happen anywhere and I am so happy I made it out okay too.

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