i’ve been robbed

my adrenaline is going back to its normal level.

my tear ducts have been thoroughly rinsed and cleansed with a profusion of tears.  after all, anyone who knows me knows that tears are my first reaction to any type of emotion.

my heart has resumed its normal beat.

my soul is heavy but also thankful.

i’m safe. alive. and have all my body parts.

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 10.23.50close to an hour ago i was robbed at the bus stop. i was waiting for the #16 to take me to Otorongo Plaza for my biweekly Spanish class.  usually several people are waiting with me but today i was alone. i pulled out my phone and, as i was looking at my calendar, i suddenly felt something press up against the side of my head. a young man, with a very unfriendly face, motioned to me to give him my phone.  i resisted and he pressed the object harder into my skull.  i released the phone and then he grabbed my backpack.

i remember thinking i’m going to get killed. i’m dead. i’m gone. but dammit, he can’t have my backpack!

i wrestled with him a bit, tugging backpack back and forth, then i let go remembering (whether correctly or not) that he still had a gun.

he started running away and i followed him, shouting at him in english.  all i could think about was that he had my spanish books and papers.  i chased him around the corner, shouting, “Espanol, espanol!”  He looked at me like i was crazy.  i was crazy.  crazy scared and crazy mad.

he tossed the backpack to his partner who took off down the street as i started pulling on his arm. he looked at me for a few seconds, as if he were weighing whether or not to give the phone back, then he took off.

i tried to follow, but couldn’t.

i freaked out. screaming, sobbing and getting more upset as i realized what was in the backpack.  a credit card.  more than $300 cash (i was to meet someone after the class to pay for something).  keys to the house.  all my homemade spanish flash cards.

two young women passed me on a motorcycle and stopped when they saw (or heard!) my distress.  they asked if i had been robbed. i nodded and pointed to the  men.  they immediately turned their moto around and took after them. they chased them into feria libre (the huge market) and lost them.

they returned to check on me. a group of about thirty to forty other Ecuadorians surrounded me on the corner, all talking to me in Spanish and looking with such concern. several said, “policia” and nellie and rosie (the two women on the moto) said they would take me to the station.

we walked several blocks to the nearest precinct but didn’t get much accomplished because i spoke such poor spanish and they spoke very little english.  after 10 minutes or so, we left and returned to the house. here we could communicate with the use of Susana, David and my landlady, who speaks very good English.

my two young heroines stayed at the house for about twenty minutes, refused any cash that Susanah offered them and, before leaving, invited me to meet them in the park tomorrow morning for dance therapy. i agreed, as i have been thinking of taking the class.  [twice a day, the city offers free dance classes for exercise in all the city parks. tomorrow i join.]

david is currently canceling the credit card.  my phone is lost but fortunately no important information was on it that can result in lost money.  all my contacts are gone (i hadn’t figured out the cloud thing).  we are out of a large sum of money but it is just money.  i hate that i’ve lost all my spanish material…but that can be replaced.  and i have my head on my shoulders and my life continues.

i do not like feria libre.  i will not go there again.  i will find another bus stop to take or i will go by taxi.  i will carry little money and what i carry will be in my shoe.  no more iphones.  they are totally silly in this environment…IMHO. i will be more alert when i walk around, especially when i’m by myself.  and, i will pray for those two young men.

i really will. the one who approached me had such emptiness in his eyes and hardness in his face.  he couldn’t have been more than 21 or 22…and to be so angry, violent and aggressive at such a young age is such a waste.

i’m thankful for safety.  for two unknown young women who were my heroines.  truly.  they took off on their motorcycle to track down my assailants without hesitating.  they showed true compassion and kindness.  i will meet them in dance class and i will get healthier. i have made two new friends.  i experienced a crowd of strangers encircle me and surround me with concern and sympathy.

i have a landlady who made communication easier.  a safe home to find comfort in and a husband who got to work immediately helping make things right.

just this morning i was reading about wisdom.  and contemplation.  and praying.  and letting go of things that interfere with my focus on God.

this is a great opportunity to put what i’m learning into practice.

deeper than the adrenaline and fear, more profound than the shock and violation of the robbery is the assurance that i am not alone. that what occurs is not all that it seems. beneath my  tears and my anger i experience thankfulness for safety, awareness that I was protected, and surprise at the goodness and kindness of strangers.

i have been robbed.

i’ve also had my eyes and heart opened with new awareness of all that is important.

i am so very thankful.

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 10.26.40i just wish i had all my spanish flashcards.


36 thoughts on “i’ve been robbed

  1. You are very brave, and brave people get scared, too. At least the smart ones do. You learned three important lessons. You learned that getting robbed is survivable. You also learned to be more cautious, aware, and ready. And you also learned that the people around you, strangers on the street, are kind and helpful.
    I’m glad you weren’t hurt and really glad to see your positive outlook from such a horrible experience.


    • you summarized it well. thanks. guess i was brave looking back on it. the guy stared at me for a few seconds–not knowing what to do with me, i think. who knows, maybe he’ll change his ways one day. i believe writing about it helped me process it…and it’s over. no more solo bus stops for me!


  2. What a dreadful experience! It is a good thing you can find something positive out of it. I have been walking around New York today very conscious of my backpack and its contents. At least you were not hurt.


    • amen to that. not hurt…and able to find good in the bad. i’m pleased with myself. i feel it shows some growth and for that i am most thankful. i hope you have a great time in NYC with no negative experiences. i will carry myself with purpose, be vigilant and not hang around that bus stop! life is still good in cuenca.


  3. Oh, Aunt Nancy! How terrifying! I’m so sorry you experienced this assault! And what am amazing story the people who stepped in. Even though you were hurt by an angry stranger, you were also helped by compassionate strangers! God was certainly looking after you! I absolutely HATE being robbed. You feel so weak and powerless.. so vulnerable. I pray God makes himself known to you as your protector in spite of events like this, and that your trust in his good for you remains true. I love you and am so thankful you are safe and that you made 2 new friends who kick ass! Xoxo


    • yes, you must meet the two young girls. neli and rosi…so cute on their moto and they whipped around and chased those guys. what heroines. they smiled when i called them that.
      the assault was scary as everything but i am so pleased that i was/am able to genuinely pray for the two guys. our loss is really an inconvenience. we’ll get more money. they desperately need something more in their lives and I do believe Christ is it. so, i asked God to put the pressure on them big time…in a good way! thanks for your concern. i’m ok…just a bit leery of the bus stop. love you lots. come see us!


      • “(T)hey desperately need something more in their lives and I do believe Christ is it.” Amen and amen! Cuenca has more than its fair share of spiritual darkness. . . and the One True God is exactly who they are seeking, if they would search for him with all their hearts.

        These are economically difficult times for the Ecuadorian people. As far as keeping your wits about you, and becoming more wise and discerning while living in Cuenca, I’ve discussed with my wife some safe practices. We don’t visit Feria Libre for shopping due to the crime factor that surrounds the place, as you so well know by now. We don’t show our cell phone in public, and except in rare circumstances keep it home. Money – what little of it we take out of the house – is kept in our neck wallets which have hardened stainless steel straps to prevent easy cutting of the cord by lawless types.

        Despite these practices, my wife has managed to have our “dumbphone” either lost or stolen at a place she has volunteered at. Easy come, easy go.

        Other preventive practices we’ve employed: we’ve made a record of all credit and debit card information in the event of loss or theft (including telephone numbers to call if lost or stolen) We have two keys to our residence, but your experience tells me making an extra copy would be an excellent decision.

        Thank God you weren’t physically hurt, Nancy. Blessings to you as you heal from this eventful trial.


      • Thanks David. i learned a valuable lesson and wasn’t hurt. that’s the best thing…i do hate pain! what i lost isn’t that important…maybe they needed it more. don’t know. won’t know. but it will not upset me or ruin my great new life in Cuenca! thank you for writing.


  4. The Welcome Wagon runs amok! Sorry. Your stuff is now somewhere else in the Kingdom. I am glad you weren’t seriously hurt.


  5. So sorry about you going through such a scary experience! So glad you’re safe and you’ve come through it with insight and perspective on what’s truly valuable. Be nice to yourself because I know stuff like this can leave us pretty shaken.


    • thanks elizabeth. i’m safe…and sound. and i’m at home with david and katherine. we have food. and comfort. and what more is really necessary? i do want to learn from things like this and not wallow in my pit of despair (i’m so good at that!) am pleased that today i was genuinely able to let it go. there’s alway something, right? gotta stop the madness where i can! love you much.


  6. Well Nancy, I’m still a bit angry!! Don’t anyone hurt my friend. So grateful for “the rest of the story.” You are one brave girl, and I know the Lord has gone before you to protect. Many hugs to you dear friend!!
    I have not read much lately, looking for the story about Catherine (Jody told me about it). Do I need to come down there and straighten out some people?
    Prayers for all!!!


    • ha! i wish you were here! am thankful it all turned out as it did…though we are a bit short of cash right now! i was on my way to meet with a seamstress who is was to make katherine and i some much-needed clothes. guess those will wait for a few weeks! shouldn’t have had the money with me. should have been more vigilant. should have, could have, would have. learned a valuable lesson and am so thankful i’m ok. it seems the theft down here is not so dangerous..mostly thiefs want stuff not inflict pain. as far katherine, she is having a tough adjustment time. we had a party for her, however, on friday evening and all but a few of her classmates came. it was a big hit. and i think she’ll have a better time fitting in. a lot of it is just getting used to different way people relate. here is a lot of teasing, making fun of people. she doesn’t handle it well. never has. keep praying. but please come down and straighten these folks out! i miss you!


  7. So sorry this happened to you. I admire you for not feeling angry. Im sure i would. Angry and afraid. Thank you for sharing your story as we all tend to become complacent and we dont always take the necessary precautions to stay safe. Im glad you werent hurt physically and hope the emotional stuff soon fades. Good job making a positive out of such a horrible experience.


    • thank you. i’m thankful nothing worse happened and anticipate no long-term side effects. i will not live in fear! but i will be more cautious…and yes, i’m thankful that i am able to find positive. that helps me know i’m maturing!


  8. So sorry to hear this terrible incident but the good thing is you didn’t get hurt. What time of day were you waiting at the bus stop? I personally feel that since the Ecuador economy has deteriorated, there are more incidents of robberies. I myself was robbed at a restaurant by a family sitting next to our table, and the husband stared at me with a smile (which at the time I thought was very odd, but the purpose was to keep my eyes looking at his eyes) and nonchalantly took my purse, a very brilliant and subtle move. Not as blunt and forceful as your ladrons, but they achieved the same result.


    • i was at the bus stop at 8:00 in the morning. usually people are around but this morning i just missed the bus and was waiting for the next one. so a dip in people waiting. i think i will either take a taxi or go to another street and look for a different bus. no more at that stop. my landlady says she thinks the economy is play into this as well. in her 9 years of having renters, i am the first that has been robbed. and just a few weeks ago, david had his phone stolen. times are hard and the earthquake is making it harder. i really do have a feeling of sympathy for them…his eyes were empty and his face almost blank. no feeling. how sad! glad it’s over!


    • thanks! it’s one of those things. a lot of people here in Cuenca/Ecuador are going through a rough time and some choose to rob, others choose to work hard at something else. i was just caught in way. im thankful it was nothing more than what it was! the only thing, i’m not crazy about riding the bus now. but that can change. take care! miss you


  9. I’m sorry this happened to you. It’s good that now you will know when to be more vigilant, though I don’t know what else you could have done to prevent what happened. I carry my wallet-thingie with my cash and cards and keys on a lanyard around my neck now, under my clothes. I look a little lumpy, and I feel like my grandmother, tucking things ‘into my bosom,’ but I don’t want to have to go through the hell of having all the locks changed, getting a new cedula,etc. again. And it’s a pain to feel violated and afraid. But those feelings will retreat back into the shadows from whence they came, and you’ll get back to enjoying your life and trusting the people around you. And I have soem flash cards you can borrow!


  10. Hola Nancy. What a horrible experience and violation. I’m happy to hear that you’re alright. Two years ago I had a similar incident. I was standing on a corner texting with my one week old Nexus 5 smartphone. There was a blind spot and a young man pushed me down grabbed my phone and took off running. Foolishly, I took off after him yelling “Ladrone and Policia”. For 50 yards this 70 year old was right behind the creep. But, adrenaline just gets you so far. My wife asked me what I would have done if a caught up to him and he pulled out his knife.

    I was angry for months and even considered moving to Colombia. In the end they are “solo cosas” . I can help you retrieve your contacts from the Cloud if you haven’t already done so. Buena Suerte


    • yes…they are solo cosas. and they all can be replaced. and really, maybe those guys needed it more than I. will never know. but they will not ruin my new life here in Cuenca! adrenaline does make you do things that you normally wouldn’t do…that’s for sure! glad you weren’t hurt, either. i’m fine now…but i doubt if i ever go to fiera libre again! thanks for your offer. i think my husband has this covered. but good to know you’re here!


  11. I was involved in crime prevention in the early 90’s in Forth Worth, Texas when we had one of the highest crime rates in the country. I worked directly with the Forth Worth Police Department in crime prevention implementation throughout the city back then.

    Several observations,

    1) You were in a sketchy neighborhood.
    2) You were distracted, looking at you iphone. Reading a book would be the same thing.
    3) If you were sitting at the bus stop, and not standing, that wasn’t a good idea, given number 1 and 2
    4) Never carny a bank card on you unless you intend use it while you are out.


    • thanks paul. i never carry cash or a credit card…never. but that one day i had to purchase something and needed both. but i was not paying attention at the bus stop. not happen again! appreciate your suggestions.


    • i must take the blame for mine. i was acting very irresponsibly. lesson learned. david, however, was a victim of pick pockets. i fear things may get worse as Ecuador’s economy slumps more. but overall, it’s a great place to be! thanks for reading.


  12. Oh, honey, I’m so sorry! But I think you have the right attitude..to focus on all the people who came to help you. The money loss is a big pain… Let me know what size flash cards you had. Maybe your pals will help you make a new set? Big hugs….


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