Personal Growth: Dealing With Your First Theft

I knew that at some point, in the midst of all of this “I’m so free, life is amazing” posting that I would find myself writing a more cantankerous post.  I just didn’t think it would happen by Day 3 of my travels.  If I recall correctly I remember telling my Mom ever so confidently before I left that I expect to be robbed at least once while traveling and I’m completely prepared for how I’ll react and I even put a cushion in my budget to account for the expenditures that go along with being robbed.  I was so proud of my rational way of thinking about the concept, but now that my once has just happened, I’m well aware that while I may think rationally, I’ll rarely react that way in the heat of the moment.  Though I’m thankful that the thieves only stole my solar charger and not my wallet, I’m still quite pissed because: a) it was a gift, b) it was actually a pretty clever steal on the thief’s part, and c) my pants were soaked from a previous incident in the park.

Here’s how it all went down.  I went to Plaza San Martín during my afternoon excursion in downtown Lima and decided to sit on the grass while catching up some travel thoughts.  Not too long into my jaunt did I decide to rest my bones in a shady spot on the lawn.  Two minutes later while trying to piggy back on a wifi network, the sprinklers came on and lucky for me, the one sprinkler was pointed directly at me.  The locals loved this.  I looked like a typical crazy American woman while trying to scramble together my belongings to get out of the way.  With my soaking wet pants, I decided to find a spot in the sun to dry off before heading to my next destination.  I sat down in a semi-circular marble bench that had seats on both sides with a wall of balusters to separate the sides.  This was my first mistake.  Going through my bag to get out some sunblock I came across my solar charger and figured this was the perfect time to start charging it!  I set it down next to me and not a minute later as I leaned forward I felt a weird presence and looked down to see it missing.  This is when I turned around a saw a big group of little Peruvian men acting all shocked when I started yelling expletives.  I saw the little coward duck behind a column as I was shouting at him before he ran off.  I thought about giving chase, but with my wet pants and flip flops I figured it was pointless.  After a little temper tantrum of pouting, stomping around and contorting my face, I let it go and made my way back to my host’s house.  Lesson learned: Plazas always have been and always will be popular spots for opportunistic thieves.  Be more mindful of your belongings when sitting on a pretty marble bench that doesn’t have a solid back to it.

As I was making my way back this is when my mind spiraled off into a mess of self-pitying thoughts.  This is the point where solo travel becomes not fun.  I think I mostly got depressed because I immediately thought of a good friend who told me a story about how a gypsy stole her phone off a table at a restaurant in Spain.  However her story had a happier ending; her husband was there and promptly chased down the thief to retrieve her phone.  I realized I was feeling quite bitter at this moment as I was really hoping some tall dark handsome man would rescue my charger as I pathetically stood there with my soaking wet pants.  Alas, no stud came to my rescue and I went home, tail between my legs, in a taxi.  The driver was listening to the radio and in the middle of a few Spanish songs, I heard the beginning to one of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs, “My Cherie Amour.”  I thought, that’s odd, but more importantly it made me happy and in a silly way I thought of it as a comforting sign; kind of like the universe’s way of telling me I’m not really alone.

It was then that I remembered what I wanted to write about before the Municipality of Lima’s sprinklers doomed the fate of my solar charger.  It was about signs and up until that moment, I had felt like the universe was reading my mind.  I had seen a bunch of little signs during my walk around the city on Tuesday that I interpreted as being reminders that my travels will be full of great experiences.  Remembering those signs I realized it would behoove me to simply take the lesson learned and not get worked up by overanalyzing the incident.  It definitely could have been a lot worse and I’m sure I won’t have long before I’m writing about something great that happened to me because I was traveling alone.  If anything I should be glad; the story about me getting soaked with the sprinklers is probably much more entertaining than any crap I have to say about signs anyway.

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7 thoughts on “Personal Growth: Dealing With Your First Theft

  1. Maybe we Americans should stop showing off our cool electronic devices in public places–isn’t that one of the cardinal rules of world travel?

  2. Getting robbed can make you feel so vulnerable and alone, even if you had planned and wanted to be a solo traveler. Hang in there…sounds like it didn’t take you long to recover. Like I have to remind myself sometimes, if everything always went according to plan, then I wouldn’t have any interesting stories to tell later! Good luck! (Btw, I just found your blog and will be following you on your adventure.)

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I’ve realized that no matter how much you plan for that sort of thing though, you will always be frustrated for a little bit. It’s human nature.

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