Sunday, July 7, 2013

I'm okay but I wish I weren't writing this one.

For the past week I've been in bed sick and haven't had too much to write about. I really wish that were still the case, but today I went for a run in the park and got robbed at knifepoint. I was shook up, but I'm completely uninjured.

I was running up a hill, with my American cell phone in hand (I've been using it for the camera/wifi/music/guitar tuner) and as I got near the top of the hill a guy came out from behind a tree, started walking on the path toward me and pulled out a knife. He put it to my stomach and I put up my hands and dropped my phone. He pushed me down, grabbed my phone and asked if I had any money on me. I told him I didn't and he said "don't move and don't say a thing". He ran back towards where he had come from, I got up, followed him to where I could see where he was going, and at the top of the hill saw him get on a red motorcycle and ride away.

 I'm pretty sure that short of telling him I didn't have any money, the whole time I was shouting 'no me molesta! no me molesta!' ...which in retrospect I think is closer to 'don't annoy me', but that doesn't really matter. I'd like to say that this was stupid and I should have seen this coming, but of all the times and places where I've feared for my safety (which have been few and far between), I never expected to have trouble running through the city's main park on a Sunday afternoon -it was about 3pm.

But today was cold and overcast, and although normally families/dates/abuelos will go to the park Sunday afternoon to picnic or just hang out, there was almost no one around. After he rode off, I was pretty shocked, and just stood where I was for about 30 seconds until another runner came by. He could tell I was distressed, asked what happened and when I told him he started saying a phrase in Spanish I can't remember at the moment but it means 'what a dumb/foolish girl'! I asked him where the nearest police station was and he took me.

It was less than a kilometer away. When I got there the police officer at the front desk was very kind, but not  particularly helpful. I explained the situation to him and described the robber, he brought me a glass of water, and wrote down my info. Then I they took me to a back office and did the exact same thing for a different officer. I told them that because I was using an app called 'mapmyrun' I knew that the GPS was activated and if I could use a computer, I thought I could get the coordinates. Unfortunately, the station did not have internet access. I asked if they could take me back to my apartment (probably about 3km away) and I could try from my laptop.

They were happy to give me a ride, but first one of the officers had to use the bathroom. Then the other had to feed the dog. Then they chatted with a third guy for a few minutes in the room next door. Efficiency is not a priority here.

Eventually they took me back to the apartment where I called ATT (no luck on that front). They wanted to drop me off, but I asked one of the officers to come in with me. So she waited for about 15 minutes while I made the call via skype (most of which was Cami explaining the situation to the operator in Spanish). Then my police officer said she had to leave. She asked once for my passport number once, but I was on the phone and I never ended up getting it. As she was leaving I had to ask her to write down my Argentinian number and contact information, and at the station they never filed a former report, they wrote my name and address in a spiral notebook and that was all.

I spent most of the afternoon talking to ATT and trying to see if I could activate the GPS using different apps, but for a number of boring reasons, I can't. Cami's brother later told me that if the police didn't hand me a printed copy of a police report before leaving, odds are they're never going to file one because they don't want to do the paperwork. And although they were kind, and I understand that robbers probably don't top their list of priorities, I'm pretty amazed and frustrated by the apathy and inefficiency.

And although I'm overwhelmingly glad to be physically okay, and I don't think that the robber really wanted to hurt me, Cami's brother also pointed out that more than being lucky in that regard, I should be glad that the robber wasn't high or messed up in some other way.

I've never particularly feared for my safety. I don't think of myself as an easy target; I'm bigger than most women, and when I'm in public I don't think I project a timid or vulnerable image. I've grown up in suburban neighborhoods and in the country outside of small-town-Texas, I've lived in the safety of cities like Guanajuato, Claremont and Beijing (which despite being a huge city is exceptionally safe, particularly for foreigners). Even going to schools where we relatively regularly had 'lock downs', Kealing and LASA were their own sort of bubble, like Claremont is now. Point is; I was wrong. It doesn't matter who you are when the other party has a knife (or a gun) and especially as a woman (and a foreigner) I've got to be more careful. I'm not going to start tiptoeing around corners, but I think I might find myself a can of pepperspray and take another martial arts class when I get back to campus.


  1. I'm really glad you're okay.

  2. first, i'm so glad to hear you're okay. that sounds ridiculously scary, even though you've described it rather gracefully. you're so smart to have thought of the app and calling at&t and even what you can do when you get back to feel more safe. i most definitely would have cowered home and crawled into bed and never left again. it's awesome that you have a great support system there in Cami and her brother. i'm not sure what the amenities are like in Argentina, but do the equivalent of taking a bubble bath and eating some cookies.

    xo nicole

    1. Thanks Nicole! Yeah, I don't think it will help, but mostly for my own peace of mind I did some sketches of his face afterwards. Haha, and ya, I don't have a tub here, but Cami made me dinner and we had cookies after. Also, I don't think you'd have crawled home. I think we've only met a few times in person, but you're strong. I can tell that from your blog also. Love reading it. :)

  3. I think that you handled the entire situation extremely well! I do think that you should take your drawing of your attacker to the police, just in case they might recognize the guy from something else.
    Also, I will bring you a can of pepper spray if you like. But you have to watch some U Tube videos on how to use it. I have been told that it can be dangerous because it, like anything, can also be used against you.

    1. I can definitely do that and yeah, I would like for you to bring some pepperspray, thank you :). Carlos, the program director here, is helping me file a report and I _just_ emailed him about the drawing, I don't know if it's silly, but I don't really care, I think I'll take it in tomorrow if I can. Love you.