Of course as soon as I start writing about routines and comfort something happens to throw that all off track.
Today I got robbed at gunpoint.
Before you start hyperventilating or anything, I’m fine. No bodily harm, just shaken up and oh so drained from all the crying that happened after.
Here’s the story:
I was walking to one of the aldeas (outlying communities) that I have a youth group in. Right outside of the community, in a particularly secluded area, a man came running out at me from behind the coffee bushes that line both sides of the road. He was masked and he had a gun. He first demanded my phone and tried to pat me down looking for it. I immediately handed it over. He then asked for my wallet. I told him that it was in my bag and went to get it out. He instead just demanded the whole bag. I handed that over too. He then told me to keep walking. So I continued on my way towards the aldea until I came across a family cutting firewood (probably 50 yards from where the robbery took place) and waited at a nearby house to catch a ride in a tuk tuk back to the muni where I then reported the crime to the police and informed Peace Corps.
The police weren’t particularly helpful (they seemed to be more concerned with getting the names of both of my parents… who live halfway around the world) than getting any details regarding the robber. But Peace Corps was nice enough to take care of things like canceling my phone and has since called about five times checking up on me. I’m still pretty worked up and anxious, but I feel lucky. He ran off with some things I would have really rather not lost (my camera, a USB with practically all of my work, my northface jacket) but they’re just things. And it could have been so, so much worse.
I take responsibility for my oversights – I had been told that this area could be dangerous. The muni was really good for the first few months about transporting me every week but when this commitment faltered, I got tired of badgering everyone week after week and didn’t want to spend the money to take a tuk tuk out there. So I walked. Alone. I’m 95% sure this person picked up on my weekly excursions along this road and was waiting in the bushes specifically for me. I got comfortable and wasn’t as careful as I probably should have been. My mistake.
It sucks. I’m upset. But these things happen. Not just here, but everywhere. I’ll learn from this and move on. This (hopefully) won’t define my service.
And I thoroughly appreciate the support from people in site (like the wonderful English Jehova’s Witnesses who came by the police station once they heard to comfort me, the women at the house I waited at in the aldea who made me tea, my very upset counterpart and my helpful former host family), at Peace Corps, back home and even my fellow PCMIers worldwide. Thankfully, I won’t have time to dwell on this as I am leaving for a visit home the day after tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the break, to seeing my sister, to sushi and cushy developed world life.
Be back in June.