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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Welcome to the Jungle - Page 3

Written by Danielle Ditzian
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      Our arms remained in the air as the masked man marched the men off of the bus. Another masked man, this one with a small silver pistol, then boarded the bus. He began going through all of our belongings, tossing anything that was not of value onto the floor, and taking worthwhile objects and money. Since I was seated near the front and he had started on my side of the bus, he arrived at me quite quickly. He took my iPod that had slipped beneath me as I slept, and then he took my camera. These two objects were the most important things I had. 

      When he took my camera, I used what little Spanish I knew: “Mi photos, mi photos de Peru,” I pleaded. All I wanted was the photos. He pulled my camera out of his pocket for an instant, as if contemplating, before quickly shoving it back into his pocket and saying “memory card” in Spanish. To this day I know not how to say memory card in Spanish, but I understood him in that moment.

      Next, he asked me in Spanish where my money was. There are some words you can’t help but pick up when you are traveling in a foreign country, and the word for money was one of them. I understood him. He had already looked through my wallet, but since it was just a pouch that contained my money, debit and credit cards, and a lot of pieces of paper with contact information of the people I had met, he simply did not see the money. I answered him, “No hablo español.” He repeated his question, and I repeated my answer. He looked at me for a second before continuing on to the rest of the bus; he must have decided that I wasn’t worth the trouble, seeing as everyone else could speak his language. Where I got the guts to refuse giving the man who was pointing a gun at my head my money, I will never know. 

      As he continued robbing the rest of the passengers our arms remained in the air. Some women cried, fearing for their or their husbands lives. It struck me that, while I had lost my camera and iPod to these men, I could replace them when I returned home. Some of the people on this bus, however, simply could not do this; they were being robbed of all or nearly all that they had in this world. And there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. One woman started coughing and couldn’t stop for 10 minutes or so. I had an unopened water bottle with me, and I so badly wanted to give it to her, but I didn’t dare move or let on that I knew a few more words of Spanish than I had pretended. 

      It must have been half an hour or so that the man was on the bus, though time was entirely warped. He never took his finger away from the trigger of that silver pistol. The whole time a nagging voice inside my head told me that they were just robbing us, but if anyone should do or say the wrong thing, things could change for the worst in an instant. At one point, my anxiety ridden-self pulled a cigarette out of my fanny pack and proceeded to smoke it. Once finished, I had a second one. A third masked man boarded the bus, and put his hand out to me without saying a word. I understood, and I handed him my cigarette. He then left the bus, and re-boarded without the smoke. I can only imagine he tossed my cigarette out. The hilarity of this event did not escape me – I was being prevented from having a cigarette on the bus, while these men were robbing us! Which was more illegal?

(Page 3 of 4)
Last modified on Tuesday, 30 April 2013
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