We were walking around Chetumal, trying to find some information about the water taxi to Belize. The small city centre exists out of a lot of square blocks, all looking very similar and even though it was finally a sunny day there weren’t any tourists around.
Suddenly a black American guy from Chicago stopped us. He introduced himself as reverend Floyd King from Chicago. He seemed very stressed but he had a friendly air around him. He was very happy to finally find a couple that not only spoke his native language but also accepted his skin colour. He explained hastily that he lost his luggage during a bus transfer in Mexico-City, that his wife and four children were in a shelter 200 kilometres away, that he hitchhiked here to find help and that his wife was diabetic and didn’t have any medication. Plus all their money was in their luggage and that he’d been in touch with the consulate in Cancun. Oh and yes, he was also a pastor for a Baptist church and for that reason didn’t have a phone or email address. He promised that if we helped him his 5000 church members would send us a love donation. ‘Thanks for trusting me.’ He said. ‘If you give me 400 USD than I’ll give you my wedding ring, which you can send back to me later. God bless you for helping me. I’m happy we can trust each other. Too bad you aren’t Christian, we could hold hands and pray’ Wait! Did we say we trusted him yet? Everything went so fast. Going over it later it immediately seemed like a big scam but somehow because of his anxiousness and rapid chaotic talking we really did feel the need to help him at some point. Especially after we have been helped and trusted by so many people along this journey. It felt like we finally had the chance to do something back.
We wanted more proof though. We wanted to talk to the embassy, a family member, the school of the kids, anything. But somehow he had excuses for everything, and wasn’t able to provide us with even one piece of evidence. He kept pointing at his ring, which he was ‘trusting’ us with, but how did we know if it’s real? I know more about pottery than about gold.
It seemed awkwardly weird not to help him, but it just didn’t feel right. And now every time the subject come up we are still discovering things he said that in no way could’ve been true.
It’s the first scam that ever happened to us; luckily we didn’t give in. I don’t know how often this happens to backpackers but hopefully by sharing this story we can save other tourists from becoming scam victims.