I guess it’s no surprise, but the robbery has affected me more deeply than expected. My guard is up much higher, I am more suspicious of people I see and encounter, and generally see each person on the street as guilty until proven innocent.
I’m not sure why that didn’t happen after I was robbed in Guatemala. Maybe it was because I left Guatemala the following day and felt “free” of the danger of Guatemala City. I am still in Colombia now though.
I suppose my balance is off. Where before I felt more invincible and trusting, the mugging and subsequent altercation has left me off balance and more vulnerable and paranoid. I hope to achieve balance again.
I guess this has brought out another element in this trip, a pink elephant almost. I am visiting people, living with them, understanding their lives and struggles and dreams, but I know I will be moving on. I often find more dignity and honor among the “poor” people I visit and live with along The Happy Nomad Tour. But in the end it’s not my life and I can only understand their lives up to a point.
In the end, I am ignorant.
I am out there on this journey to make myself less ignorant, but inevitably there is a point at which understanding the lives of the people I’m living with becomes almost impossible. I may be living the life of a relatively poor person now, but I didn’t grow up poor and I always have the opportunity to withdraw and unplug from this life. I don’t want to, but even if I live like the people I stay with we are still playing by very different rules.
Everyone in Colombia told me to be careful, that it’s dangerous, and so on. I listened to them and believed them, but it still seemed like something that wouldn’t happen to me since I take precautions to stay safe. In the end, these precautions probably prevented me from losing my stuff during the robbery, but it didn’t prevent the robbery from happening.
Going forward, I am sure my balance will return. But the people I “leave behind” in my travels continue to live in that environment. They’d say they are used to it and it’s ok. But it’s not ok and this incident has shown me how NOT OK it really is.
I remember in science and engineering classes talking about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. It says that you can’t really observe something without changing it.
This is a double-edged sword. Are the people I visit different when I am there since they are kind of “under observation?” Or, what I hope is more likely, does my being there change them in a good way, fortifying and respecting their way of life, traditions, and hearts full of love.
I’ll never know. But I hope it’s the latter!