Once in Peru, I met a backpacker who told me a why buying cocaine in South America can be a bad idea.
For the sake of the story, we’ll call him Craig.
So, Craig was enjoying a quiet beer with his friend, Lara. They were in a bustling, lively Lima bar. Early in the evening, Craig was approached by a man we shall call El Gordo. Now, Gordo was massive. Breathing in, Gordo eased his way through the front door, his head swivelling from side to side. When he caught sight of Craig, he swaggered towards him.
“Hey man! Welcome to Peru!” Gordo wheezed.
A meaty hand was offered, and Craig took it uncertainly.
While shaking his hand enthusiastically, Gordo leaned forward, grinning ear to ear.
“I’m El Gordo, and I don’t mean to interrupt you and your…”
He looked over at Lara, a hint of hunger in his eyes.
“er…your friend, but I just wanted to welcome you both to Lima, and, well…”
El Gordo leaned in closer.
“…if you need anything, anything at all, I’m your man.” (wink!)
Craig and Lara awkwardly thanked El Gordo, and return to their beers. Gordo held out his arms, and lowered his gaze.
“I’m so sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt! I’ll head off now. Just remember, if you need anything….here’s my card.”
In seconds, Gordo waddled through the crowd, eased through the front door and was gone. Craig looks down at the card on the bar. It’s for a tattoo parlour, just around the corner.
Before they’d even sipped their cusquena, the barman jumped in.
“Couldn’t help but see you were talking to El Gordo,” he said.
The barman explained that Gordo is the “tourist drug dealer”, a man with many connections, but few regular clients.
Later that night, Gordo reappeared, and Craig decided to take him up on the offer. When he asked for some cocaine, Gordo gave him another ear to ear grin, this time scrunching up his tiny eyes.
They headed over to the tattoo parlour, where in a small back room, he asked Craig how much he wanted.
Feeling a little unsure of himself, Craig said, “basically, I want nothing. Like, enough for me and Lara to do a line or two tonight.”
El Gordo then offered 2 grams, but Craig was worried about the risks of travelling with drugs in Peru. He turned down the offer.
El Gordo offered him a free bag of cannabis. Craig tried to explain that more drugs wouldn’t make him feel more comfortable when he’s sitting on a long distance bus the next morning.
They haggled, and eventually agreed on a gram. Gordo told Craig to return in an hour.
One hour passed, and Craig once again found himself in the back room of the tattoo parlour. It was a featureless room, the size of a large pantry. The only furniture was an office desk to one side.
Gordo returned, and asked Craig to stand behind the desk, explaining that sometimes people outside can see into the room.
Craig brushed aside a strange feeling, and did as Gordo asked. Immediately, however, it clicked.
Once behind the desk, Craig realised that the only way to get out of his position was gap between the desk and wall. Before he could act, that gap was filled with El Gordo. He was trapped.
Gordo crossed his arms. “Do you want the good new, or bad news?”
Craig, suddenly tense, responded, “the bad.”
“You’re under arrest.”
Everything went hazy. Craig felt sick. His head spun. El Gordo started laughing hysterically.
“Fuck you El Gordo!”
Just another avalanche of laughter.
Chocking back tears, Gordo spluttered, “I’m just kidding, amigo! That’s not that bad news.”
Craig tried to recover his senses. “Wha….what?”
“I’m not police! Don’t worry! No, the real bad news is that I could only get 3 grams. So, would you like that pot as well?”
Craig immediately recognised the cruel joke for what it was, an attempt to rip him off. He imagined what countless others had probably done before him. Slapped as much money as possible on the table, taken what was offered and ran. But, Craig didn’t.
Sometime later, he walked out of the tattoo parlour with a single gram.