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Pick Pocketed in Central America

When we talk with people about our travelling lifestyle, the same questions seem to come up a lot. What’s your favorite place? Where haven’t you been? Where did you hate? Where did you guys meet?

Another one that we get asked a lot is: “Have you ever been robbed?” The answer is yes.

I know why people ask, it’s a fear many have before going travelling. You often hear horror stories of muggings and bag snatching. My story is a little tamer, but at the time it was pretty tense.

My Story of Being Pick Pocketed in Central America

It was last year in Nicaragua. I was talking a local bus alone into the capital city of Managua. These are small buses and always pretty cramped. As my stop came up I walked to the front. I have a habit, not that I think about it much, of instinctively having my hand by my pockets. Just a tap on my leg confirms my wallet and phone are still in place on either side.

A few other people got up to get off at the same stop and we became a little bunched up at the front. There was a little surge forward as the driver applied the brakes to stop and we all got pretty close for a second.

That instinctive leg tap I do, I did again. To my horror there was a notable absence of my wallet in my left pocket. People are piling off the bus. The guy behind me has his hands up on the rails keeping himself steady, I immediately started looking on the floor by people’s feet. I had conversed with the conductor in English a few minutes before so I knew he was a good person to appeal to. “My wallet, it’s just been taken!” I said panicking. He told me to go look where I had been sitting. I didn’t want to, I knew it had been taken less than a few seconds before.

Was I Just Pick Pocketed?

Scanning the other passengers, I spotted my guy. The only one not looking at me. The only one not really looking on the floor when the conductor asked in Spanish for people to look around. The one seated immediately to my left when I felt it was taken. He was sitting with his jacket on his knees with his hands under it. I was sure my wallet was under there.

I keep eye contact with him, I insist it’s been taken. I don’t think he speaks English. I know it’s him though. At this point I would have looked terrible if it was not him, but I was willing to take the risk. It was tense, I could feel my blood pumping, a mix of panic and assertiveness.

I pointed directly at him and said “somebody around here took it from my pocket.” Then it happened. The conductor had tapped me to ask me a question and as I turn, the lady next to the man spots the wallet by her feet. It had suddenly appeared. As I am handed it, I go to check if there is anything is missing and while I was distracted the guy quickly rose to his feet and got off the bus. If any doubt had existed that it was him who took it, that doubt was gone as he was originally not getting off at that stop.

Incredibly, nothing was gone. He never had time to even rummage through the wallet. I thanked the conductor, apologised to the other passengers for the delay and decided to get off at the nest stop. I was extremely lucky. If I had noticed just 5 seconds later, the bus would have already set off down the road and I would have never seen it again.

Can You Relate?

My story of being robbed while abroad has a much happier ending than most,  I was so happy to not have to go through the process of cancelling cards and dealing with the anger you get when someone wrongs you. I’m interested to know if anyone else has had a similar experience? Did it turn out well? Please leave a comment below.

About Lee Carter

Born and raised in Accrington, UK, Lee has ventured far beyond his hometown, traveling throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, North America and New Zealand. He is the co-founder of Global Goose and as well as writing the occasional rant he can be found tweaking the code and taking photos of amazing things around the world. Lee and Kelly are currently backpacking around Southeast Asia and they have no plans to stop their "Gap Decade" anytime soon.

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