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A Year Without Ice Cubes One year through Africa and Asia


KENYA | Thursday, 11 December 2008 | Views [757] | Comments [5]

It's finally happened, after almost 3 months of smooth sailing I've finally been a victim of a crime in Africa.  Granted, it was a petty crime, and actually the thief didn't get a way with it, but still, I was a victim!! I'm never traveling again!  I'm never leaving the house!...just kidding. Here's the story...

Yesterday I was walking through downtown Eldoret alone on my way to the hospital.  I was crossing a busy intersection that I've crossed alone many times before when a random man very purposefully walked into me.  I gave him a look and kept on walking, thinking he was just trying to bug me or harrass the only mzungu around.  After I crossed the street I noticed that he had followed me, and then he walked into me again, this time even more purposefully and rudely.  I kind of pushed him off and said "Excuse me" in a pissed off voice, he said "Sorry, sorry" and then walked off.  As a reflex I checked my cellphone pouch on my backpack strap and when I realized my phone wasn't there, I swung around looking for the man, but there were tons of people around and I didn't know which direction he went.  Another man on the street saw me looking distressed and asked me what was wrong, when I told him some guy had just stolen my phone he said "Go tell the police, they're right over there, they'll help you."  So I crossed back across the street towards a group of uniformed men holding huge guns (they're everywhere in Africa) and told them what had happened.  I don't think they were police so much as armed guards who kept watch over the Bureau de Change, but they asked me if I thought I'd be able to identify the man, I told them probably not, it was really fast, we talked a bit more and then a man who works at the Bureau de Change told me to stay here for a few minutes and my phone would probably show up.  He had seen a group of men running after someone down the street moments before and he suspected they had seen the thief take my phone and were chasing him down.  While we waited he kept reassuring me that Eldoret is a very good place and there are just a few people who are trying to make it bad for everyone else, but they rarely get away with it.  Well, sure enough, about 5 minutes later a group of men came up to the guards talking excitedly in Swahili and one of them handed me my phone.  I was pretty amazed, the men told me the thief had dropped the phone to save himself, so he wasn't apprehended.  I thanked everyone, still a little shaken but feeling incredibly lucky, and walked to the hospital to meet Kareem and our Kenyan friend Lucy for lunch.  When I told Lucy what had happened, she said "If they had caught him they would have stoned him to death.  They would have beaten him to death."  Kareem told me how if someone even takes 100 Shillings (about $1), if they are caught they'd be beaten up, so sometimes it's better to just not say anything and consider it a loss.  I've told a few more Kenyans who work at the Sally Test Center what happened to me, and they all reacted with "Did he get beaten up?" or told me stories of how their phone was pickpocketed or their friend's phone was pickpocketed.  So in a sense I guess I was initiated into Kenyan city life, I was lucky to get my phone back, I have something to blog about, and I think I'm a little more street smart and more knowledgeable about how to carry my stuff when walking around in crowds (close to your body, not accessible to anyone else).

Hope I didn't make anyone worry too much (sorry, Mom), but I was told to write about all my experiences in this blog, good and bad (you're welcome, Mom), and in the end I wasn't so much a victim of a crime but more of a recipient of Kenyan goodwill.

Tags: pick pocket



Oh, sweetie, what a wonderful story with a happy ending. I love it: "Did he get beaten up?" I can take the bad news, too, so keep writing about ALL of your experiences.
Just a suggestion - do you think you could stay in Eldoret with Kareem and Michelle until September when you return?

  Sylvia Mom Dec 11, 2008 2:29 AM


Wow! You can make even a crime good readin'!
If only we had such help and concern for others here!
Now I can imagine you walking around with such a DFWM manner the very birds will fly away! Nah!

  Bunny Dec 11, 2008 12:24 PM


Sylvia! I keep saying it! You are amazing.
...to see the good; to get the message is so cool.
What wonderful experiences you are having.
Love the children!

  gail Dec 15, 2008 12:57 AM


Great story! Being pickpocketed is pretty common in the rest of the world since they're not lucky enough to have access to white-collar crimes as Americans do. I'm glad you learned that as OJT since you will always remember it. Remember we said to "sleep with one eye open?" Now you can add "both hands on your valuables" to your list.

  zen house Dec 18, 2008 5:49 AM


Finally found your blog again and am enjoying "catching up" on your adventures!! What are you doing for Christmas? And are you going to Ethiopia per chance? T is interested in returning for a visit at some point so if you do happen to go, please keep an eye out for how difficult it would be for someone in a wheelchair. Thanks!! Love your photos - especially of the kids (and the elephants)! Take care and be safe, Andi

  Aunt Andi Dec 21, 2008 9:33 AM

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