I need to just nip to the ATM in town. I've waited until morning, it's not a great idea to be wandering around at night in Potosi – especially with a debit card and a hundred or so US dollars in my pocket.
I'm feeling a bit better after resting up, but still breathless and limping a but. It's actually a slight infection in my heel. So I head down to the ATM in town, it's easy to get to – downhill all the way, I'm not looking forward to heading back. Still if I take my time...
6.30 am – I'm walking through Potosi to the ATM. It's daylight already but there isn't a sole about. I think to my self 'shouldn't be doing this, Woz'. But I'm already here and I fancy the uphill slog even less, especially empty-handed.
I walk with a purpose – well, more of a limp with a purpose. The ATM duly hands me $100. Many ATM machines in Latin America dispense a choice of local currency or US$. As I turn to leave, my worst nightmare – one guy heading straight at me. I'm still by the ATM.
“hey Gringo” he shouts. I turn to limp away – he follows me, easily catching up. “Gringo, he says again”
“Amigo, que pasa” - mate, how's it going, says I. He looks a bit stunned that I've answered him in Spanish.
He says he wants money – for food. I'm making a quick calculation in my mind. Legging it isn't an option. If I reach for my pocket with my 100 bucks in it – he may just grab me, and the dosh. As usual, in times of threat, I attempt to diffuse the situation with some humour...
“Tengo todo la comida” (I have all the food) I say, pointing to my not insignificant stomach. He realises he's trying to mug someone nuttier than himself. He turns away laughing – it gives me a chance to get a 10 Boliviano note out of my pocket (about £2.00).
I say “para la comida”? (for food?) and hand him the note. He's genuinely grateful – I can't believe it. It's all he wants. He heads off – still laughing!
I'm a bit shaken, this could've gone a lot worse. But I hobble back to the hotel and decide that next time I go to an ATM, I'll make sure I have a sandwich in my pocket. Just in case.