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Mugged in Peru, part 2

Continued from Mugged in Peru, Part 1

Reasons why I’ve attached this Friends clip:

– When I lived in Ecuador, my roommate Marina (the star of this story) and I watched this show religiously. We still get together once a year, and there hasn’t been a single time when we haven’t watched at least one episode together.

– Start watching at 0:39 – Ross’ tone is the one that I use when getting to this part of the story. I know that it sounds scary, but when I retell it, I have everyone laughing. I like to think of my second mugging as a heroic action story.

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At that point, I took my bag off and handed it to the second driver. Marina was still pulling on my hand, so as soon as my bag was free, I just went with her and both moto-taxis drove off. I lost everything: bank card, credit card, passport, camera, iPod, journal.

Upon hearing the commotion, everyone on the street quickly went back into their house and shut their door. Marina ran across the street and kicked down the closest door just as it was shutting. We barged into a family’s kitchen, and she announced that we needed help. Like I said, Marina really is the star of this story – she always knows what’s going on, and what needs to happen next. The family explained that they were worried that helping us would bring them trouble with the boys who had robbed us, but Marina was insistant and it wasn’t long before they agreed to help. They called the police, who came quickly, but were also quick to assume that we were just another set of dumb tourists. We chatted with them for a while and described the situation. We weren’t scared, we were angry. I think that our attitude, and our level of Spanish, convinced them that we weren’t dumb tourists (well…) but just really unlucky. They drove us to the bus station to pick up our bags (which were fine! untouched!), and to a hotel where we could stay for a few days while we sorted things out. It was a Saturday, and we had to wait until Monday to go into the police station so that I could make my report for my insurance claim.

While we were talking about all of this, Marina remembered that the boy had taken us to his house… and she remembered where it was! (Marina, I tell you! I don’t think that I’ll ever meet another travel partner quite like her) We started thinking that maybe the boy knew the drivers who had mugged us, and had gone into his house to call them and tell them that he had two tourists that they could steal from.  The cops decided that we should go to his house to try and identify him – they picked us up from the hotel, just as it was getting dark. Marina found our way back to the boy’s house, and we hid in the back of the police car for an hour (Police stakeout! In Peru! I’m not kidding!), waiting for the boy to come home. He came home, we identified him, and we drove off. They arrested him the next day.


The rest of our time in Chiclayo was well spent: we spent the Sunday with the two cops, driving around in their car (while they were supposed to be on patrol). They gave us their hats, but mine was later taken from me by customs. We also found out that they’d been demoted, after we left.

Over the weekend, the cops had been back to the boy’s house, which were near some brick ovens. They found a document that was in my journal – we think that they quickly went through my bag, and burned anything that didn’t seem to have any value, and must have sold the rest on the black market. Marina (again!) had originally tried to make a deal with the boy, telling them that we would pay them to give me back my journal, but we had no luck.

On Monday morning, the police picked us up again and took us down to the station to identify him. We did, they thanked us and they told us to wait. We heard them beat him. A few hours later, we all met in a room – me, Marina, the boy, and a lawyer. We were each supposed to tell our side of the story. The boy tried to defend himself, but the lawyer appeared to be on my side and kept contradicting him and telling him that he had robbed us. Between Marina and the lawyer, I was covered. I still feel weird about the whole situation though. We later found out that they had detained him illegally (he was 17), and beating him didn’t help. They had to let him go and weren’t allowed to continue the investigation.


After this eventful weekend, I got my form, and off we went. We had to cut the rest of our trip around northern Peru short, as I had to go straight to Lima and get a new passport and bank cards. My dad had already organized everything for me from his end, so that as I got to the embassy, all I needed was a picture and a signature, and I was able to process my application for an emergency passport. Still, we had to spend more time in Lima than we had originally planned.

How impressed do I look? I was NOT happy about having to spend time in Lima to get a new passport.

How impressed do I look? I was NOT happy about having to spend time in Lima to get a new passport.

We ended up arranging for all my replacement documents to be sent to Cusco, where we were ultimately headed before going to Bolivia. We were still able to continue our visit of Peru, going to Arequipa, Ica, Huacachina, Nasca and the Colca Canyon, because Marina, yet again a star, was able to cover the costs for both of us until I got my replacement bank card. We finally made it to Cusco around June 10. We fell in love with the city, and ended up staying there for two weeks, only going to Bolivia for a few days before I had to leave to go to Costa Rica.

Funny how things happen! Somehow, this mugging was less scary than the time I was mugged in Cuba, but it has still affected me. When I was in Mali last year, I was always a little uncomfortable when people approached my taxi. Hopefully that feeling goes away. The point is though, that it didn’t ruin my trip. Yes, I’m still sad about losing that journal – I’m only just starting to let it go. But thanks to Marina, the family and the great cops that helped us out, my situation was a lot better than it could have been, and it didn’t affect the rest of my trip (apart from having to spend more time than we planned in Lima!)

Tell me, has anything ever happened to you in your travels? Has it changed the way you travel?


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San Francisco Picture Preview

Soooo… I took about 1000 pictures in San Francisco.

I’ll need a few days to sort through everything, what with going back to work tomorrow, where I’m supposed to run staff training (which I haven’t planned yet, since I’ve been in SF… oops!)

Here are a few unedited teasers for ya… My camera has some dust in it, which explains the black flecks. I’ll be posting fleckless ones shortly 🙂

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“Real Beauty” Does Not Come in All Shapes and Sizes



At least according to Dove. I have been seeing the Youtube video “Real Beauty Sketches” ALL OVER Facebook, and it’s really kind of shocking to me how effective these advertisements are in drawing us in. And to prove I’m not talking down to anyone who posted it: I was also slightly touched on my first watch, and it was easy for me to overlook all the problematic aspects as well as forget that I was even watching an ad.

These are the ads to watch out for, the ones that manage to masquerade as simply positive messages instead of actual commercials. If you haven’t had a chance to peep the video yet, press the play button below…

Now, I think we can all agree that the most fundamentally influential part of this advertisement stems from the emotional emphasis on our societal obsession with physical beauty. This is a big issue…

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Travel Photo Tuesday

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. I didn’t love, or not love, Nicaragua. But I do love the beach, warm weather (boy was it ever hot in Nicaragua that week!), and sunsets. Today feels like a ‘post a picture of a sunset’ day, because I feel like being on vacation. You?


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Sunday night, brought to you by Vancouver

Feel Sunday night like I did. Put this music in your ears. Picture the ground strewn with cigarette butts, newspaper pages, Starbucks cups and cherry blossom petals. Hear the homeless man yelling in your ear, over the music. Notice the smell of weed everywhere. It’s about 10°. Now, click on the first photo.


On learning languages

“Confidence is crucial to language learning. Be firmly convinced you are a linguistic genius.” – Lomb Kato

I’ve always spoken English and French, and it took me about a week in Mexico before I was able to convincingly string a couple of sentences together in Spanish – now I like to think that I am fluent. I love the quote above, because that’s how I perceive myself. Whether or not it’s true, it certainly helps!

My goal has always been to speak 7 languages – French, English, Spanish, German, Russian, Japanese and Mandarin, in case you’re curious. I also want to learn Arabic, Italian, Portuguese and Swahili. So 11, I guess! Now that I’ve read this article, I’m more confident than ever that it’s an easy feat to accomplish. At my core, I’m just a big nerd, and an ideal evening is spent online, learning words in a new language, and figuring out how to put those words into sentences. I usually sound like I know what I’m doing too, because I seem to be pretty good at picking up accents. Whether or not I’m saying the right thing is a different story… but laughter goes a long way in that department.

I did NOT take this picture. But one day (soon) I will go to where I can.

This morning, I had a Tibetan language lesson – I am a volunteer for the Tibetan Resettlement Project, and I couldn’t be more excited. The language lessons are an added, unexpected bonus.

I can now confidently tell you that Hello, how are you? No, I do not want tea, bring me water/beer/food. The weather is cold, the house is hot. I speak a little bit of Tibetan. See you later, goodbye.

Here it is, in my own phonetic version, if you too want to pretend that you speak Tibetan.

Tashi deleg*, kusu dépo yin pé? Cha min du. Tujézik nga la chu/chang/kala nanro na. Namshi tangmo duk, kangpa tsapo duk. Nga peukè nyung nyung chigiyuk. Jellyoong, ka le shu**.

At first, we all thought that we sounded a little rude, because no one really says please or thank you. Our teacher explained that in the Tibetan language, the sentiment is implied. By nature, you are expected to be polite and thankful.

*Tibetan language fun fact #1 – Tashi deleg means ‘good luck’

**Tibetan language fun fact #2 – Ka le shu means ‘stay peacefully’

***Blog fun fact: I could be lying. This is what I learned in one hour today. I could be wrong about everything.

If you want to read more about my linguistic prowess, make sure to check out this blog post, to learn all about buying a half kilo of bananas at any market in Mali.

But I did take this picture. They thought I was ridiculous 🙂


“The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness. “


It’s described as a unique word with no equivalent in English. Its origin is Portuguese and it was first used in the 13th Century. It is a longing, a melancholy, a desire for what was. It is “Saudade.”

Many immigrants and refugees search for words that adequately describe the peculiar longing for what they left behind. Not the war and evil that is a relief to escape, but the land, the people, the food – all that encompasses that which is home. Doctors and nurses working with large populations of immigrants and refugees often simply put it down as “depression.”

A health center I know desperately tried to find out through a survey what percentage of their immigrant and refugee patients had depression. The survey was unsuccessful. It did not reflect the narrative that these health care providers were hearing from patients.

One day a woman from Haiti said to them…

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