I had pushed my way into that taxi, on a busy Friday morning at 7am. Everyone was trying to get to work in Kacyiru. I had sighed a deep breath of relief as I settled myself on the seat, putting my bag in my lap.
I hear the conductor knock and know we were stopping to let someone off. I have my bag in my arms, just in front of my body. I step out of the taxi and feel myself pushed from all sides, other people trying to get into the newly vacant space. I glance down at my bag, see a hand nearby but not going near me. I get a wave of uncertainty and try to push my way back into the taxi. I see a woman yelling and pointing in my direction. Things feel in slow motion.
She is asking me if I have my money, to look in my bag. He took something and he is running. I have everything – my money, my camera. But I do not have my phone. I say it out loud.
I watch the taxi driver jump from his seat and start sprinting down the road. The men in my taxi jump out and run after him. The women are talking to me in Kinyarwanda. I have my hands over my face, frustration and exhaustion. How was I not more careful? The women are saying, you have to hold your bag closer to you!
I make a silent deal with myself – if I could just get that telephone back, I could not say anymore that I hated Rwanda.
Twenty minutes pass and I am still in the same taxi with the same women. They are all waiting patiently with me. I look over my shoulder and catch site of a huge mob walking towards me. The thief is at the front of the group, bound by the arms by a few strong men. I see that the driver has my phone in hand. I don’t know how to thank him enough. I sat for the rest of the ride in silence, head spinning.
This country that challenges me so much. These people I spend so much time being frustrated and irritated with. They came to my rescue anyways. This was a lesson to me. It is beautiful how the universe works.