In Peace Corps Morocco

Instincts

I don’t want to tell you this story to scare or worry you. But you have to take the bad with the good and this story would be an illustration of the bad. All in all it is a story about instincts.
My neighbor had taken me out to a store to help me talk with the clerk there and after we were finished we started walking towards home. When we reached the bakery I told him I wanted to stop there and he told me he was going to the nearby café to meet a friend. I really was in the mood for something to satisfy my sweet tooth. I didn’t find anything I wanted at the bakery so I proceeded to look in a couple other shops to find exactly what would hit the spot. After not finding what I wanted I left the main street and walked around the backside of my block to look in the stores there. I had been looking for a small basket to keep my makeup in and I found one at a nearby shop. After leaving there I stopped in a clothing shop to look at a sweater. All this time I am within 1 minute of my apartment. After walking out of the clothing shop, now I am 20 seconds from my door, I felt my purse, which was strapped over my shoulder, pulled up and over my head. All that could come out of my mouth was “hey-stop” and the word stop turned into a long horror movie-like scream. This person had a hold my purse from one end and I had my hand around the strap at the other end. I held onto it for dear life and I hit the thief with the basket I just had bought. I don’t think that scream came from fright-it came from anger. I have found that in situations like this anger is a good defense. If you are angry enough you will be prepared to do what it takes to save yourself.
The thief did not get my purse. If they would have gotten it I would have lost my cell phone, all of my keys, my Moroccan bank card, my American bank card, my Peace Corps ID, my insurance card, and a little money. There were some men nearby at a carpentry shop and one of them immediately sprinted after the thief as they ran off. Two others followed. I stood there distraught for a moment, wondering if anyone would come see if I was ok. No one did so I decided to just go inside. The men who chased after the thief came back and asked if I had all my things. I told them yes and thanked them. This was an unfortunate situation and there were lots of lessons to be learned from it.
1. I should never walk alone in areas that are not well lit.
2. I shouldn’t be out alone after dark.
3. I should carry all my important things on my body in a zipped pocket.
4. El Gara, even though small, can have danger.
5. I must understand that my personal safety is a lot more important than my pride.
So I told you this was a story about instincts. In daily mundane life it is easy to forget that we have these wonderful things inside of us called instincts. Screaming when you feel scared, listening for traffic, and protecting your head if you see something coming at you are all examples of instinctual behavior. These things are so common they happen everyday. But when put in a situation of real danger it’s nice to have proven that those instincts are there and that they will work for you. It only took the thief about 1 second to pull my purse up and over my head and I don’t even remember grabbing onto it, but somehow my hand was around that strap, able to pull it away from them. I didn’t even think about screaming, I just did it. My body just reacted and I hit them with my other hand. If you can remember from a while back I wrote an entry about when I thought my friend Yorda was in danger of being grabbed by someone on the street I put my body between hers and the unknown assailant. The “assailant” turned out to be another friend playing a joke on us, but I thought it was a real situation. In that case I didn’t even think either, I just reacted. Most of us say that if presented with a dangerous situation we might not know what to do. However, here in Morocco it has been proven to me multiple times that I do have what it takes to confront danger.

Just to complete the story and give you peace of mind, the next day I went to my local authorities and told them what had happened. They told me that they would try to find out who this person was and to let them know that they better never try anything like that again. Also in telling just a few people, I have told the whole town. I’m sure more people will be watching out for me from now on.

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