I'm starting this post on a bit of a sour note because, as of two hours ago, I am phoneless and $40 poorer. Yes, it finally happened. I was with A and M, who are visiting from out of town, and we were on our way to the Expatriados bar when a man on a bicycle approached us, flashing the gun he had tucked into his belt, told us not to scream and to give him everything we had. My first thought was: "Awww, shit." Ever since arriving in Honduras, I feel like I've been living a game of 'Gotcha!' every day, where I'm constantly looking over my shoulder, paranoid that someone is out there to get me. If you don't know this game, I should tell you it's very fun to play with friends but not in real-life as a daily threat. The rules are as follows: someone has your name as their "victim" and this person cannot "get" you unless it is just the two of you, with no witnesses. In general, I try to make sure that when I am walking, there is more than just myself in the street. So far I have been able to do so, but tonight I let my guard down.
Let me tell you how it all started. A is celebrating her 25th birthday tomorrow and we wanted to celebrate by going out for the first time since arriving in Honduras. As luck should have it, tomorrow the municipal elections are being held and there is some strange law that states that no restaurant or bar can serve alcohol today or tomorrow so that nobody protests at the polls tomorrow. Really? If people can't drink at the bars but they can in their own homes, how would that discourage them from supposedly acting up at the voting stations the following day? Anyway, because of this law all bars, particularly in the Zona Viva, are closed today except for the Expatriates.
Since it's only 2 blocks away and it seems ridiculous to pay for a cab to take us that distance when we can walk it so easily, we chose the latter option. Of course this was a mistake. Even though the security guard in the neighbourhood surprised us by accompanying us to the main road, he didn't cross over to the other side by which point we were no longer safe. We were easy prey for the Thief on a Bicycle with a Gun. I had brought my $2 army knife but there was really no competition there. Whether or not it was loaded, I'm not sure, but I definitely wasn't going to take a chance trying to find out.
I didn't put up too much of a fight. I did pretend I didn't have my phone on me at first and, after he'd taken it out of my bag, I asked if I could at least have my SIM card, to which he responded "no" and when I protested that it was only $2 ("son 40 lempiras!") he said that he was very sorry ("lo siento mucho"). I doubt he was, but at least I tried. I wasn't as afraid as I thought I would be in that kind of situation. It was my first time being robbed at gun-point. I was more frustrated than anything, and annoyed at myself for having brought so much unnecessary change on me, as well as my Iphone. It was a free hand-me-down from my sister so I didn't lose anything of great value, however it was convenient to have around to upload pictures, to use WhatsApp messenger and to access wifi. It's impressive that I've "lost" it during my fifth week here, since it's a whole 2 weeks later than when I'd lost the Itouch I used to have while on my Eurotrip in Paris at the time!
I could spend all my time worrying about what I no longer have and wondering how I could be so irresponsible but in reality, all things considered, I got off easy. The thief didn't assault us in any way or ask for anything that could put myself and others in danger, such as the keys to my house. We all walked away safely and unharmed and at least we were not alone. While it's a shame to have gone through that, I am grateful that I was with my friends at the time and that it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Even the taxi driver's warning from earlier in the day to beware of thieves on bicycles right on the corner of my street could have been a clear sign to me, foreshadowing near-future events, but I liked to think things weren't as bad as he was making them out to be. I was wrong. At this point, there's no sense in dwelling on what's already in the past, but at least I can take it as a lesson to always be on my guard and to remember that it's better safe than sorry.
I suppose you haven't really experienced Honduras until your life has been put at risk. At least I can cross that off my bucket list now. I'm excited to have more authentic experiences, ideally not life-threatening, during my time here!