So finally I was going somewhere out of town since Covid 19 hit. I took a bus to the Capitol, Santo Domingo and was waiting in the office area to board the bus. It was a little strange to be on the road, but I was hoping it would be another positive travel experience. I have been in the Dominican Republic for three months and have only taken my phone out of the house around 5 times. I needed to bring it with me for purposes of communication. The bus team indicated it was time to board but when we came out they said another five minutes. It was 10 AM.
I took a quick photo of the side of the bus and was going to go back in the office. I decided to wait next to the bus. I opened my phone to check something…remarkably I was not touched….not even my hands and I looked up and I saw the back of a motorcycle helmet pulling away from me quickly. He had snatched my phone. It was expertly done. Even if I could run (spinal surgery) I could not have caught him. I yelled instinctively. It was as if I was watching a movie. I looked around and people were open mouthed and wide eyed in shock. ….some I could tell were not surprised. No one rushed to comfort me, but some eventually helped me make a call. I fortuitously had brought an old phone with me that had my brother in law’s phone number. On the bus a Venezuelan lady was super kind and shared her phone data with me and talked with the people that would meet me in Punta Cana. I am still processing the experience and know much worse things can occur but I am troubled by the patterns I have seen in the Dominican people. The people were a bit speechless about what had occurred but not really empathetic. This is something I have noticed repeatedly in a variety of scenarios. One of the workers at the desk helped me place a call. No one was unfriendly but they just sort of talked amongst themselves. No one asked if I was ok or shared how they felt. Maybe they are just exhausted from all of the delincuencia as they say? Theft is common, people bar their windows. The one person who came to my aid was a Venezuelan lady. Not a Dominican. She allowed me to tether my phone to hers so I could use the internet and rebuild my lost apps, information, etcetera. A true angel. One other person stood out as a bright light and that was the realtor, but he was born in New York and moved here later. I can’t put my finger on it, but when bad things happen, people mutter some things, shake their heads but don’t really connect with you to show their care. I don’t want to sound judgmental but that is a pattern I see emerging. I have hypotheses as to why, but will save that for another day. Gracias a Dios I survived my first such theft in decades of travel in over 50 countries. I can say with certainty that you need to be careful here. I dress poorly, carry little and show less. The moment I showed my phone….it is gone.