Sunday, November 21, 2010


Not a week goes by without some kind of drama. Some weeks more than others.

Last Sunday, I went to the beach with Michael, where two men with machetes ambushed us. They took my backpack, his shoes, and my camera. I'm so used to being accosted by people asking for stuff and ignoring them that I didn't fully appreciate the situation until it was almost over. Then I was irate that two glue-sniffing drug addicts could take what they wanted because they happened to be armed, which they would then sell for maybe five or ten dollars to get their next fix. I took some comfort in knowing that come the next day, I would go back to living a productive, meaningful life while theirs continued to be shitty and pointless.

After passing a surreal hour walking back to Michael's house to find clothing to wear (since my house keys had been in my backpack), then going to the police station to file a report, I was so exhausted by the shock of it all that I fell asleep. By the time I woke up, Susan and Lee had returned from what should have been a far riskier sojourn to a river outside of town. I caught them up to speed on the situation, then went to the harvest celebration at church, which was the reason I had decided not to go to the river in the first place. Harvest Day is a day for giving thanks for all the bounty we have received. I had spent two hours on Saturday baking bon, or sweet bread, with the young adult group, which we sold after the service, along with the pies, cookies, and "chap siu" (chop suey) brought by others. For the service itself, the sanctuary was adorned with palm branches and the clothes that were going to be sold after the service. A bunch of stuffed animals that were also for selling had been placed on a table before the altar like ritual sacrifices.

I felt a sense of panic rising in me from not having my camera. The reason I had it with me at the beach was because I had begun to take pictures of everything, in recognition that I would soon be leaving. This special moment in the life of Puerto Cabezas was passing me by, and without my camera I was going to lose it forever. This feeling has been one of the hardest to deal with since the robbery. I feel even more intensely that my time here is slipping away from me, never to return.

The other feeling I struggle with is guilt. I knew that part of the beach borders on one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in town. I knew there was a risk. Never mind that these things just happen here. There's always a risk. Go with a local person, go in the middle of the day, don't bring any cash, whatever. Yet somehow my response is not fear but just guilt, like being robbed indicates some kind of failing on my part.

Maybe I strive to emulate superheroes a little too much.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Kathryn. I feel for you on so many different levels. First, the camera thing...I can imagine feeling so disappointed. If my camera were ever stolen, I'd be a wreck (especially if I were abroad).

    Also, the guilt. It's true that you were going into a risky situation and knew it, but that still doesn't make it your fault. What those men did was wrong, and I don't care if you were dumping your purse on the ground practically inviting thievery, it's still not right.

    When crimes are committed against people, especially women, there is this overlying question if what "she" did to make that happen to her. Like in assault cases, there are often questions asked about what she was wearing to "encourage" that assault. (?????really?????) I think that's where the guilt comes from. We feel some sort of responsibility.

    Thinking about you!