By Kalina Davis
His hand came through my window before I had time to react. My heart pounded and my body shook, but not a sound would come out of my mouth. No one else on the bus knew that I was in a fierce struggle for the protection of my memories.
Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. Let me back up a little.
Two years ago, I was on a trip to Zambia. I spent most of my time in the country’s capital, Lusaka, a very busy and densely populated city. My first impression of the Zambian people was very positive. Everyone who I interacted with was very friendly and welcoming. While I was there, my main form of transportation was a private bus. As we drove through the crowded streets, we often got stuck in traffic, and during these times, many Zambians would approach our windows to say hello or try to sell us merchandise. These positive experiences caused me to let my guard down and generalize the good character of all Zambians. Unfortunately, this naivety led to an unfortunate lesson. One afternoon when I was in the bus, riding through Lusaka, I had my window open with my camera on my lap, ready to capture whatever scene captivated my attention. I casually noticed a man walking on the street a distance away from our bus. He appeared to be coming closer to the bus, so I put a smile on my face, preparing for the friendly greeting I had come to anticipate. As our bus started to move forward, the man started to run toward us, and before I had time to blink, he was at my window, his hand had reached inside, and he had grabbed the camera from my lap. Fortunately, I had one hand on my camera, and was able to get my own grip on it. Our bus was stopped in traffic at this time, and I wrestled desperately with the man for my camera. My friend who was sitting next to me noticed what was going on, and slapped at the man’s hand. After what seemed like an eternity, the bus began to move again, and the man lost his grip on my camera, allowing me to reclaim it. That incident shook me up quite a bit, and made me realize how naïve I had been. However, that experience taught me to be more aware of my surroundings and to adopt a more realistic understanding of humans in general.
Unfortunately, that was not the end of my errors in judgment. Recently, I spent some time in Lusaka again. Keeping in mind my experience from my previous visit, I thought I had learned my lesson. Sadly, I was once again mistaken. I was riding in a bus one night after a long day, and was using the flashlight of my phone to do some reading. My window was open to let the cool air into the warm bus, and my back was facing away from it. All of a sudden, I heard a man’s voice yell by my ear, and before I knew it, I felt my phone being pulled away from me and out the window. Without thinking, I screamed, and twisted my arm back inside the bus. Whether my scream scared him or the movement of the bus caused him to lose his grip, the man let go and took off running. I was thankful to still have my phone in my possession, but I could not believe that I allowed almost the same incident to occur more than once. Both times I had practically asked for my possessions to be stolen, as they were completely accessible and I was completely ignorant. I realized then that I still had plenty to learn about traveling wisely. I began to realize that blind confidence in a foreign setting is never a good idea. Although I was able to retain my possessions, I knew that if I had been more cautious, both instances could have been completely prevented.
Traveling to new places is exciting and so rewarding. However, in order to fully enjoy your experience, it is crucial to remain cautious and aware in foreign settings. This is not to say that you need to be paranoid and defensive while you are traveling. Being afraid will not do anything to help you enjoy your time. All it takes for a smooth and pleasurable experience is a little extra preparation and open eyes. This will allow you to be confident as you take on your next adventure.
As for me, I think next time I will just choose to keep my window shut.
By Kalina Davis
Go Travel, and Travel Fearless.
Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel
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