This is the picture I was taking while a man tried to rob me. As I was looking up into the viewfinder, he came up behind me and yanked my camera out of my hands. He didn’t get very far, though, because the strap was wrapped around my wrist. Instead, the camera just kind of slingshot-ed out of his hand and hit me directly in the face. Ouch.
I turned around to face my mugger, who was probably in his early 20′s and wearing an ill fitting camouflage T-shirt (how stealthy!). We stood about a foot-and-a-half apart; He was probably sizing me up trying to decide if he should take another pass at my camera, while I was still figuring out what had just hit me in the face. Hard.
It took a few seconds for me to actually realize what had just happened. Then I started yelling at my camouflaged robber. In English. It only took two choice words for him to get the picture. He looked almost as if he was sorry, and then crossed the street. As I continued walking in the opposite direction, we both shared a few backwards glances until I reached my friend Jen just a few yards away. “Did you see what just happened?” I asked, out of breath. She hadn’t. Nobody had.
I’m not telling this story to scare anyone. In fact, it wasn’t scary at all. At no point in time was I physically threatened or did I actually feel in danger. Pockets get picked, purses get snatched, cameras get grabbed. It happens here. I want to be as truthful about life here in Ecuador as I can, and honestly, this kind of stuff is not uncommon. The real lesson is, it just took a few seconds of separation from the herd for me to be singled out, so you can never let your guard down.