A Robbery Attempt in Cartagena

With 10 months of international travel on the docket, I figured that at least one of us was going to get mugged at some point. That doesn’t meant that we are not careful travelers: we lock up our passports, carry minimal cash, avoid flashing our phones, and generally strive to look like we know what we are doing at all times.

Welp, suffice it to say that you can be doing all the “right” things and still get unlucky, which is exactly what happened yesterday when a couple of guys on a motorcycle sped by and grabbed my purse.

I imagine it was supposed to be a fairly straightforward job: two tourists — Jeff and myself — casually walking down a street at midday: approach unsuspecting tourists from behind; guy driving accelerates while guy in the back loops a hand through the purse strap; purse is gotten and motorcycle speeds off before tourists know what hit them. Hook, line, and sinker.

But the thieves made some pretty serious miscalculations, beginning with the fact that I was wearing my purse across my body and therefore when they yanked the purse, they yanked me along with it. So there I go, dragging down the street behind the motorcycle (kind of like water skiing, except I’m skiing on my left side and the water is pavement).

I wasn’t dragged for very long before the guys sort of lost control of their motorcycle; at some point in there, the strap on my purse broke and I was separated from it. The next few seconds are a blur, but I jumped up and yanked my purse back from one of the thieves while Jeff and about a dozen bystanders chased them down the street.

I should interject to say that Colombians are the absolute best (purse snatchers notwithstanding). Virtually every bystander came to our aid, either to help chase down the thieves, offer us a place to sit and water to drink, or simply ask if we were okay. One guy even found and returned my sunglasses, which had been flung across the street in the chaos.

The ending to this story is perhaps the most shocking: in the amount of time it took for us to collect ourselves and round the corner (maybe ten minutes?) we learned that, in trying to get away, a cop managed to shoot one of the thieves in the leg and BOTH guys were hauled off to jail. Apparently the thieves also neglected to note that a police station was right around the corner.

So I walked away with the contents of my purse and a few minor scrapes and bruises. I’ve been exaggerating the severity of my injuries to extract free drinks and other favors from Jeff, which has been a fairly successful strategy.

I’m excited to write about the rest of our time in Cartagena, which has been delightful! By the way, if you have any recommendations for a good and non-ugly travel purse, hollaatchagirl.

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