A visit to the police department of Granada, Nicaragua wasn’t exactly in our itinerary. But one of the glories of travel is just that: an expected change of plan.
There we were. Sitting on the patio of a restaurant across from Convento San Francisco in Granada, enjoying a delicious, $5 Nicaraguan meal, and a $2 caipirinha. I looked out onto the street and there was a rainbow in the sky. A RAINBOW. Could there be a more perfect scene? Probably not.
Kerianne and I engaged in conversation about how lucky we are, and I took my gratitude journal out to write about it even more. “This is picturesque,” said Kerianne.
Indeed. It was.
I looked out onto the street again, and this time made eye contact with a young man. He walked up the steps behind me and into the same restaurant we were in. After a minute passed, I saw an arm reach over my shoulder, grab my camera, and make a run for it. I don’t know what went through my mind, but a combination of my Dora The Explorer/wannabe spy (I’ve wanted to be a secret agent since I was, like, 8) instincts kicked in immediately, and within a split second I found myself sprinting after a thief on the streets of Nicaragua. I didn’t blink. Didn’t hesitate. Didn’t even think before running into the street. Definitely didn’t think at all.
Everything went by fast. I felt lots of eyes along the street following me as I passed, but I was silent and totally focused on the red Abercrombie shirt running away from me. I thought to myself that maybe this was the moment that all of my running/training in the last few months would pay off. The gap between us narrowed. We grew closer and closer, and I felt a sting of hope, until I saw a motorbike a few leaps away. I ran even faster.
In my head I looked like either a wild lioness about to catch her prey, or Jen Garner kicking ass in Alias. Maybe even Katniss Everdeen. In reality I probably just looked like a little American girl in Central America chasing a Nicaraguan kid who stole her Nikon.
I thought I’d get him, and in retrospect I don’t know what I would have done if I did. But he was just a meter away from me when he hopped on his compadre’s bike and drove away. When I realized there was no chance of getting him, I screamed bloody murder, hoping anyone watching would try and stop the madness. That didn’t happen.
I slowed my run to a stop and saw a yellow car go after the bike and for a minute, hope was restored. I took a breath and accepted that my sprint down the block was my workout of the month. I walked back to the restaurant, sat down, and laughed. There was really nothing else to do. A few minutes later, the yellow car came back and while I hoped he would be holding my camera in his hands, the driver had nothing. He called the police, and we spent the next hour filling out paperwork, giving statements, and looking through pictures of suspects at the police station.
In moments like these, where my time in a city is limited, I realize that there is none to waste. So we pulled a Dora, took our maps our of our backpacks, and continued on our way. First stop: ice cream.
I paid 88 cents for my ice cream cone. I was happily waking down the street looking at a cathedral, when one lick of my ice cream sent the caramel scoop falling to the floor. Happy Monday, Christine, said the universe. Happy Monday to you too, I said.
Let’s celebrate with this list. I call it “The Perks of Getting Your Camera Stolen.”
More room in my backpack. Thank you, camera thief, for literally taking some weight off my back. I’m sure my chiropractor will be happy to me a little less often
Less distraction. No need to stop and take a camera out of my backpack, and no need to make sure the battery is charged. After Peter (that’s my Nikon’s name) was taken, I vowed to focus even more on every upcoming moment and every upcoming sight.
Accepting reason. Someone once told me to believe that everything works out in my favor. And I do. I hope that he stole my camera out of desperation, and that he really needed it–not for an adrenaline rush or because he thought he thought he could get away with it. I hope he gets what he needs out of it–money for his family, to fulfill a dream, whatever it may be. Maybe someone needed Peter more than I did.
A reminder to stay humble. I’ve been traveling internationally independently since I was twelve years old, and in all these years, this was my first experience with theft. Maybe I got too comfortable, or maybe I started trusting people more than I should. Maybe I needed to remember that there are more important things than material possessions. Maybe this was supposed to teach me a lesson. Maybe this was my memo.
A reminder to keep believing in strangers. The man in the yellow car who tried to follow the motorcycle, the waitress at the restaurant who drove us to the police station and tried to identify the thief, and all of the people around who tried to help. While I know that I should always be aware of my surroundings and cautious of others’ intentions, I also know that I will never lose hope in the innate goodness of the human soul.
A good blog. This gave me a lot to think about today. I hope the words you’ve just read do the same for you.
Goodbye Peter. I hope you are treated well, in whoever hands might be holding you. Here’s the last and probably only picture I have of you, taken during our very last moments together. Thanks for storing many of my memories for the last three years. It may not be with me, but I hope you get to see as much of the world as I wanted you to.
Lots and lots and lots and lots of wonder (and a few less pictures to share when I get home),