It was about 6:30 at night. Here that is when the sun sets. Due to our location so close to the equator the sun rises and sets at 6:30 exactly everyday all year. And it only takes about 15 minutes from the time it starts setting at 6:15 to when it finishes setting.
I was taking the bus home from Kigali, and grueling 2 ½ hour ride if I’m lucky, and I arrive at about 6:30. It was dark and I was busy talking to some relatives of a university student who were coming to my site for their sister’s graduation. Remember, I live in a tiny town there is a small university. I had just been to the town where my P.O box was to pick up 3 packages. So as I’m getting off the bus I have to rummage around the bus to collect all my packages. Then when I got off the bus I realized I didn’t have my purse. I ran back on the bus to search for it but it was not there. So I started shouting to everybody that a thief had taken my purse. Then somebody said they remembered seeing someone get off the bus rather quickly and run off down the dark dirt road. so three guys ran in that direction to find him. It turns out one of the guys knew who he was and where he lived. That night they were able to get my purse back for me with all the cash still there but the guy had taken the phone and run somewhere with it. While they got my purse back at this thief’s house they stole his soccer bag as collateral for my phone. I was told I would get the phone back the next day but I was pretty doubtful. And I was now scared that I would get reported as a thief since I had this guys soccer bag. Not a good idea at all but I really had no say in the matter. I I was happy just to have gotten my purse back which also had the keys to my house, so I could now get home. I had accepted the fact that I would probably have to get a new phone. Phone’s here are high commodities; people want phones more than anything else, more than laptops or other electronic. The reasoning for this is because laptops are rare besides my co-worker and maybe some rich university students I am one of the few with a laptop, therefore it’s pretty easy to figure out who stole it when somebody tries to use it everyone will know it’s not theirs. So the only thing easiest and less traceable is a phone. If you have an iphone your safe too because nobody has those here so if one is seen with a non-westerner they know it was stolen.
The morning has arrived. I wake up to a knock at my door. It is one of my neighbors. He has a phone number written down of somebody who needs to talk to me. So I use his phone to call the number and have them call me back. (Receiving phone calls is always free). It turns out the call was from the Peace Corps Country Director. She heard I had been mugged. I cleared up the story. I had not been touched or threatened in any way. Just was being stupid and careless on the bus home. Also later that day I got my phone back and the man’s soccer bag was returned to the security who returned it the the Thief. I still don’t know the thief but I know he lives in my town and as I walk around I look at people wondering who it was. I know they know who I am being the only white person in town.