I felt the bump. Once. Twice. Maybe three times. I even looked around, irritated and my mind vaguely thinking about someone trying to pick my pocket. But downtown Kampala at dusk, sticking close to my BLB (big little brother) and I didn’t feel unsafe. Even so, something made me feel my bag, run my fingers across the only external pocket, the place I keep my phone so I don’t have to dig for it.

It was open. Phone? Gone.

I saw a young boy with a phone in his hand walk in the opposite direction. His head was down. He didn’t run but he never looked up.

I hesitated for a moment, reached for BLB to explain and then hurried across the street with my eyes glued to that bobbing head. stupid I know. Insanely stupid. Only, more than money or anything else, my phone – with all my numbers, my phone the basic umbilical to my life here- essential.

I skipped two steps at a time and reached out to tap him. He must have been following me with his peripheral vision. He didn’t run. Didn’t try to deny it was mine. simply said, “it’s yours, you dropped it,” handed it to me and kept walking.

Apparently the potential mob justice that would have followed a scene is less than pleasant. Instead I was caught off guard and he evaporated into the throng of people. Later, I figured out he’d stolen 10,000shilings as well…but five bucks is a small exchange for my phone.

Even so, my hands shook for hours. Not out of fear so much as…I’m not sure. BLB perplexed at my inability to let it all go, chocked it up to adrenalin. And he’s right. My adrenalin – with no fight or flight to speak of – had nothing to do but quake my hands.

Adrenalin aside, my hands were moving much as my mind was. it has been an intense few months. Challenging. Sad. Frustrating. I was craving my holiday in dar before the pickpocketing incident, but after…after I was desperate for it. Desperate to get some distance – and with it, perspective – that would reacquaint me with expecting other than the worst.

It is slow in coming…the negative assumptions still run free in my mind. When my flight landed and the visa was $100 instead of the $50 I anticipated, when the visa line was throng of people standing idly by in the stagnant heat, when the first ATM machine refused to give me money, when stalled traffic parked us next to two trucks of manure.

And then the driver made a turn and suddenly I was staring at the indigo of the Indian ocean. I expected to smell it first but instead I inhaled the tropical fragrance of frangipanis in full bloom, the white flowers in contrast to the fuchsia bougainvillea scant of scent but demanding attention with their flagrant display of color. And then a gate opened and the car rolled into a narrow yard with a beautiful home nestled in between the fence and I met Doc and Carpenter.

just like that my holiday was here the plane ride and pickpocket receded and even work, though not absent, began to recede.

Friends of a friend, conversation drifted. Our various countries of travel, work, beaches, food…and food conversation blended into a sumptuous meal of mixed green salad with grilled shrimp and boiled stone crabs. More conversation before they escorted me to my holiday home.

Since then things have been quiet. Food and dvds. reading languidly in the pool.

Searching out food (still getting my bearings) is evening I asked directions at the little store at the end of the street. The shop owner couldn’t really help but he directed me to abdul who offered to drive me at no cost. His little brothers…maybe 8 and 10 give or take a year…scrambled into the suv and immediately stood to stick their heads out of the moon roof.

We drove for a while, abdul’s English either limited or his shyness prevailing. But we found a spot. And true to his word, true to the rebuilding of my faith in people, he simply smiled and waved as I continued my search for food on foot.

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1 Comment on holiday of faith

  1. Nicole Banton says:

    Have you thought of writing a travel novel or a memoir that is a compilation of your blog posts? I was right there with you after that boy picked your pocket and felt refreshed as you took me to the ocean and relaxation. I’m happy that you got your phone without the drama and understand that feeling unfocused rage that needs as outlet. So happy that you found your respite and the reminder of the sweetness of humanity 😀

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