Robbed. Or not.

Flower on Lake Victoria

I had a dream last night. I had just arrived in a country on field mission, and had left my computer bag and suitcase in the car while having a quick bite in a restaurant on the way from the airport. When I came back, the windows were open and everything in the car was stolen.

Made me think of the times I have been robbed. Knowing I have been to the world's worst (and poorest) places, only few times actually:

Once my attache case was stolen from the car in Goma. In Kampala, they opened a window on the ground floor and grabbed everything they could get hold of through the safety bars.
In transit from Angola to Malawi, they stole $1,000 from the double bottom in my camera bag in Zimbabwe.
And in Rome, they robbed the house I was living in, and nicked the GPS out of my car.

But once, I was really lucky. A few years ago, I was driving around in Kampala, trying to find a place that sold galvanized nuts and bolts - a rare commodity back then. After parking the car near the matatu station I sped out of the car to a shop, only to find that... I had no wallet. Went back to the car, and recalled I had put my wallet on my lap while driving. Probably it had fallen out of the car as I got out.
I was sitting in the car, my heart in my shoes (Flemish saying) while thinking of my wallet's content: National and Ugandan ID card, credit cards, cash, drivers license, debit cards... God, it would take me ages to replace it all. And many phone calls to block all cards...

A guy knocked on the side window. He said "Are you missing anything, sir?". "Yes", I sighed. He asked: "I think I know where to get it, how much is it worth to you?" I answered: "Two hundred shilling".
"Wait", he mumbled and sped off.

A few minutes later, which seemed like hours, he re-appeared and gave me my wallet. I could not believe it. Everything was still in it. All credit cards, all papers, even the cash.

I could have kissed the guy. I gave him 300 shilling. He returned my gesture with a big smile. I waved and drove off. Thinking of how lucky, and how blessed I was that day.


Voegtli 24 February, 2009 05:36  

It seems I am lucky. In all those years, "behaving" like you, I never had things stolen from me. Except once.

In 1966 in Rwanda, after a party in our house where I slept on the sofa in the living room, I woke up in the morning (with a terrible headache from booze) to find myself on the sofa. And everything else in the living room was gone!

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