Robbed in Africa

Jun 03, 2013 View Comments by

Robbed in AfricaThis photo is a screen shot of a video interview I did just after I was robbed in Africa.  Here is an excerpt from my blog (www.lukeandnick.com) telling the story how I wrote it the day after the event.

I drive to Djibouti watching my fuel light and doing math in my head. I see the city lights in the distance and I think I could probably push my bike into town if I ran out now. The first station does not have Benzine (gasoline), nor does the second, but the third time is the charm. This station has gas, but I don’t have local currency yet, and they will not take USD. I need to find an ATM Machine.

Just then, a man pulls into the station in a nice truck. He asks what my story is—Nick and I get this a lot. I take advantage of his English speaking and ask him where I can find an ATM Machine. I explain that I need to get money for gas, and then drive back to Nick, who gave me the last of his gas so at least one of us could make it into town. What this man does for the next half hour blows my mind. He buys me 7 liters of gas on the spot, and then leads me to the ATM Machine. I get my cash, and have no idea how much it is. He holds my 40,000 franks in his hands and explains how much USD it is (about $225). He gives it back and will not let me pay him for the 7 liters of gas he bought—insisting that it was a gift.

Next he drives me to the Saudi Arabia Embassy so I will know where it is in the morning. After this he asks what else he can do to help me. I thank him profusely, and we part ways after a picture and a handshake. This man might be the nicest guy in Africa. Before I left, he told me that I would do the same if I saw someone else in my position that needed help. What a positive experience! I am overjoyed and start the 60-mile trek back to Nick.

Along the way I stop in a shady part of town on the outskirts. While keeping an eye on my bike, I get two cokes for the road. Once back to the bike, I set my helmet down and take off my riding jacket. I’m wearing a long john shirt and it’s way too hot. I take off the shirt, stuff it in my Givi case, and take a really long swig of water from my water bladder.

It turns out the swig was too long. I set the bladder down and realize my helmet and riding jacket are gone. I step on the other side of the bike and see that two straps for my luggage are unclipped. My tent pole bag is ripped. Holy cow, all this happened while I was standing right there drinking water. I feel like I am naked with the whole world watching. People start to gather around, as no doubt many of them saw this happening. I am nervous—not for my life—but about what I will do next. I feel embarrassed and stupid. I am standing there topless just in my riding boots and pants. All of a sudden I am chilly. Now what? I re-clip my luggage bags, constantly looking around, checking my pockets. I still have my wallet, my phone, and my passport. A guy comes up to me after a minute handing me my helmet. I am not in shock, but there is nothing to say. I just take it from him and put it on. I then do a putting on my jacket motion. He understands and walks around a shack. He comes out with my jacket. I put it on; the pockets are all open. My tow strap that was inside a pocket is now gone. Luckily Nicks GPS wouldn’t fit in that pocket as I tried to put it in only 15 minutes ago as I left town. I don’t understand why this guy gave my stuff back to me, and I don’t stick around to ask questions. I bail. I am happy to be riding back to Nick wearing my helmet and jacket. 

I have seen both sides of the spectrum in this city in only 30 minutes. Not to mention the crazy guy that was quizzing me on religion when I was at the gas station, clearly trying to lead me to say the right answers. 

I have a lot to think about as I drive back to Nick…

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About the author

Commercial fisherman to pay the bills. Adventure Rider for the smile on my face. Documenting it all as proof that anyone can live this dream.