ADV Riding Couple Brutally Robbed & Assaulted In Belize Carries On

Any accomplished overlander will tell you the classic adventure route from the United States to Ushuaia, Argentina, will be filled with challenges, though that list of cautions would look more like deep gravel, horrendous winds and trouble finding bike parts than it would armed robbery and assault. And while that scenario might be extremely rare, it can certainly happen, as realized by young Brits Beth Paul, 29, and Nick Lonsdale, 30, as they fought to survive a horrifying overnight attack in Belize.

The couple was tent camping at a recommended and established campground, which was locked at night with an owner and other staff living onsite. It was their third night there and by all accounts they’d had a lovely time until then, exploring Belize, reporting on social media that everyone had been welcoming and nice. Then, just before 1 a.m., a dark, rainy night turned terrifying when they were awakened by a group of men wielding flashlights and guns, claiming to be the police. 

The men used machetes to slash at their tent, demanding the couple come out, before dragging them “half naked into the jungle” where they were tied up along with other victims, face down in the mud. After ransacking their campsite, slashing through their luggage and pouring the contents onto the wet ground, the men took special interest in the young couple after finding spent shell casings in their luggage. The men assumed they were hiding guns and held machetes to their throats, repeatedly counting down from ten in an attempt to get them to admit where the firearms were hidden. 

Back in November, when the couple and their crated bikes, a CRF300 Rally for Beth and Nick’s a DR-Z400SM, touched down in Texas, they could have no idea the fun they would have at a tourist-friendly gun range would later bring them so close to death. They’d kept the spent casings as a souvenir, thinking nothing of it as they enjoyed slow traveling through Mexico and into Belize. 

During the assault Nick was kicked in the face by steel-toed boots and hit in the head with the butt of an assailant’s gun, suffering a concussion as well as damage to his jaw. Tragically, Beth was sexually assaulted. 

Riding couple robbed and assaulted in Belize

The attack lasted for nearly two hours, but the mistreatment wasn’t over. Left tied up with instructions not to move until morning, someone at the campground managed to get free and call the police, who did literally nothing helpful when they arrived. They offered no shelter, protection or means of communication to Nick and Beth, leaving the traumatized couple alone after less than 30 minutes of taking brief notes regarding stolen property. Nick and Beth had a slashed up tent and luggage, no phones, no GPS or feeling of safety, but they did have their bikes, which they theorize the men left behind because they didn’t know how to operate them. 

It was still the dead of night when they strapped what they could to the bikes and rode off in search of shelter and safety, taking temporary refuge at a gas station 40 kilometers away. When the sun rose they rode into the Belizean capital city of Belmopan where Nick says they “collapsed in front of a hotel waiting for it to open.” Some sympathetic locals helped them make some calls, including to the British Embassy, but the damage was done. 

The thieves made off with everything of value, including the couple’s phones, GPS devices, cameras, helmet comms, tools, $700 in cash and memory cards filled with photos from their trip. All of their luggage, camping gear and most of their clothing was trashed during the robbery, as well. All told, their losses equaled £7000 ($8800 usd). But even worse, they were left feeling deeply traumatized and unsure of their next steps.  

Riding couple robbed and assaulted in Belize

After a few days spent healing physically in Belmopan, Beth and Nick rode out of Belize and into Guatemala where they would further consider all of their options. In a set of Instagram Stories posted several days after the attack, the couple relives the traumatic night, wanting to share their truth with friends, family and followers, yet at the same time, not wanting “to spread unnecessary fear.”

Nick says they have since physically recovered but wasn’t sure if or when they would feel emotionally or psychologically whole again. 

Riding couple robbed and assaulted in Belize

Yet after much consideration and despite the trauma and setbacks incurred that night, the couple has chosen the brave path of carrying on with their dream of riding all the way to Ushuaia. 

“We’re carrying on because I don’t want to live in fear,” says Beth. “I don’t want to let those few bad men dictate my perception of the world. I don’t want them to take away my dream.” 

Riding couple robbed and assaulted in Belize

While recovering in Guatemala, the couple ran into another British rider, Charles Reynolds, with whom they shared their story. In turn, Charles felt motivated to create a GoFundMe to help the couple replace their stolen items, and just as you’d expect, the ADV and overlanding community began filling the coffers so readily the couple shut down the fund drive when the £2000 goal was surpassed, reaching £6465 (almost $8200 usd) in less than 48 hours.

Riding couple robbed and assaulted in Belize

The money is of course very much appreciated by the couple, and the extra cash might permit them to stay in more hotels than their previous budget allowed, yet they say the biggest reward has been feeling so supported by so many people around the world. 

In a follow-up Instagram Story Beth says the result of the fund drive blew the couple away. “We’ve been left speechless multiple times by the generosity of this community.”   

Riding couple robbed and assaulted in Belize

“Where it’s dark, there’s an equal and opposite light,” she goes on to say. “Now, since the attack, we’ve had an overwhelming majority of people show us their kindness, generosity, love and it really makes you realize how beautiful and brave this world really is.” 

You can follow Beth and Nick’s journey on their Instagram page @mundurodetontos.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

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