A Calgary man and his British girlfriend who were robbed at gunpoint in Guatemala captured the entire frightening ordeal on camera and posted it to YouTube.
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It wasn’t quite the holiday video Dan Landsborough and Heidi Burton expected to shoot of their motorcycle trip across Central America.
The pair set out from Calgary about six months ago. On April 10, they were riding from San Pedro La Laguna to Santiago Atitlan — a 22-kilometre trip — when two men jumped out of the bushes, one of them holding a gun, the other a machete.
"I was heading up the hill, and I saw the first guy jump out with a gun pointed straight at my head," said Landsborough. "So, I was pretty much forced to stop at that point, and I looked out, and the guy with the machete jumped out right next to us."
Landsborough and Burton had been documenting much of the trip with the help of a camera mounted to Burton's helmet, and it just happened to be rolling when they were ambushed.
"When he jumped out, I knew what was happening, and I just kind of went to a calm place inside myself," said Landsborough. "I knew what to do, and I was just thinking, you know, they want money, and they want it quickly so just give them what they want as fast as I can and just get us out of there."
Gave thieves fake wallet
Although shaken, Landsborough said it was a situation he had both anticipated and prepared for. He had stashed a fake wallet with old credit cards and a real $100 bill in his bag.
"You don't set out on a trip like this without thinking about this sort of situation potentially happening," he said. "I'm not under any illusions that a trip like this is going to be safe."
'I got the feeling that they wanted to get it over quickly. So I helped them with that.'- Dan Landsborough
Landsborough said he immediately pulled out the phoney wallet and handed it to one of the robbers while they took his and Burton's rings.
On the video, one of the robbers is seen trying to pry the GPS off the bike. Once the thieves had the money, Landsborough said he had a feeling he and Burton could get away.
"I was reading the situation as it developed, and I just had a feeling we could get out at that point," he said. "I didn't want to stick around. So, I crept forward a foot with the bike just to see what would happen. I had a good feeling about it, so I just went."
When he looked in his mirror, Landsborough said, the robbers were picking up stuff that fell to the ground, adding that it was obvious to him how nervous the robbers were by the sound of their voices and the way they were constantly looking down the road.
"I got the feeling that they wanted to get it over quickly. So, I helped them with that," he said.
Landsborough said he regrets going down that particular stretch of road and not looking more seriously at an alternate route, adding that he did do some research and spoke with locals prior to setting out.
Planning routes important
"It was a bad decision going down that road, but I'm just going to be more vigilant in the future planning routes, and I'll probably get another fake wallet, just in case it happens again."
Landsborough said he cut the sound off part way through the video at the request of his girlfriend "who was understandably distressed."
He said the worst part of the ordeal has been the fallout. Since the video was posted on YouTube on April 13, it has garnered more than a quarter of a million hits — and plenty of reaction.
Landsborough said some of the feedback has been positive, some of it disheartening.
"Reading people's comments on the internet and stuff like that ... just some incredibly ignorant comments out there, and it just really made me think about people and what they believe."
Despite the holdup, he said the trip has been incredible and he doesn't want the video to tarnish the reputation of the area or scare off travellers.
"We've had an incredible time in Guatemala. It’s a beautiful place," Landsborough said.
"Just be vigilant with your route planning."