Travelling alone, travelling safely, doing what you like and feeling safe in doing so is very high on my list of priorities. However, I was robbed in Otjiwarongo and I will continue to travel alone in the future, but also recommend it. This will sound very contradictory to some people. So read on to read about my experiences and learn from them. Know that the chance of this happening to you is very small … especially as you are about to read this 🙂
Statistically speaking, you are more likely to suffer an accident at home or in your own environment than when you travel, if only because you spend much more time at home.
What I would also like to emphasise first is that you should not let the well-intentioned advice of others hold you back. Especially if they themselves have never been to that country and are not really travellers who know what they are talking about. How often does it really go wrong? How often does it actually get you into trouble? And finally, how often is something fatal? There are actually very few moments and we can all think of very few examples.
The first thing that comes to mind are the Scandinavian girls who were murdered in Morocco in 2018. Or the year before that those cyclists in Tajikistan, shortly after which I went to neighbouring Kyrgyzstan. Both were attacks, something you can never prepare for. It also happens in Paris or London …. And I don’t want to scare you but this can also happen in the Netherlands.
Safe and Healthy Travel – Meaningful Travel
I cannot and will not let this rule my life.
I want to enjoy the moment I am living in!
But as the headline of this blog suggests, I was robbed in Otjiwarongo, Namibia. I will also stress that I travelled around on my own for 10 weeks and that this is the only thing that happened to me. I travelled alone as a woman for 10 weeks in an African country in a 4WD with rooftop tent.So I have been alone a lot, I have only camped on campsites and nothing has happened to me. But this one time when I went shopping in Otijiwarongo, I was robbed.
Do read on how that worked out …
Safe Travel – Robbed in Otjiwarongo – Namibia
That day, I left the Living Museum of the San where I had camped for two nights. I had driven about 3 hours when I arrived in Otjiwarongo. The first town I passed through, Grootfontein, I bought some water, a nougat bar and a bottle of a corn drink… Thick juice and strange but was drinkable and together with the noga bar acted well as an alternative breakfast. I couldn’t find a supermarket in Grootfontein so I drove on to the next town: Otjiwarongo.
In Otjiwarongo, I decided to stop and do some shopping. The first stop, a Spar, turned out to sell only alcohol. The second I saw after a short drive on the other side and so I parked right where I saw it. I crossed the intersection and the car park there and walked into the shopping centre. When I came back to my car, I saw that there were a couple of men/boys (mid-twenties) standing under a canopy near my car. One of them was looking for attention from me. He wanted to call me…at least he brought his hand to his ear and mouth as if he were calling.
I smiled politely once and ignored him for the rest.
I put the groceries partly in the fridge and partly in the pantry in the back of the 4WD. As I still had to refill my water bottle, I did so at the same time. For that reason I opened all 4 doors. In the door behind the driver’s side I filled the bottle. I had already put my phone on the charger and my purse with wallet and camera on the passenger seat. When I drove off, I immediately came to the traffic lights.
I was robbed in broad daylight in Otjiwarongo
A man approached and gestured that I had something at the back door/rear wheel on my side. I looked at him and in the mirror like: I don’t see anything. He pointed again and convinced me to look. I know this is a trick to distract me, so I decided not to get out. Still, I had my doubts; all the people in Namibia had been kind and sincere up to now. And I had just had the door open…for all I knew, a piece of clothing could be hanging halfway out of it. I had my backseat littered with everything from my backpack and so on. You may know it…this was already after 7 or 8 weeks of travelling in that same 4wheeldrive. It had become a bit of my home.
So I decided to have a look but not to get out. So I opened the window and looked a little better by sticking my head out of the window. Still I saw nothing. When I looked in front of me again I saw that the man was walking away….
Hmm…… at that moment all my antennas were switched on.
I looked around me. I didn’t see anything next to me, the door was closed… When I looked in front of me again, I saw in a flash in the rear-view mirrora man coming from behind my car. He joined the man who had spoken to me.
What I saw then came as a punch in my face.
I saw at the other man a shoulder strap hanging down… My shoulder strap from my bag!
In a flash I saw that he was trying to hide my bag under his shirt.
And then everything goes very fast…
I didn’t think twice and put the car in P and got out without saying a word. I started to run as fast as I could towards those two men, I don’t know what I would have done if I had caught him. But 1 thing was for sure! I would get my bag back, what were they thinking! The indignation that goes through you is enormous, I was alert on all fronts and would get my bag back.
Just before I reached the man, he turned round. When he saw me running towards him, he was shocked. I know I can put on big eyes when I’m angry or when I really mean something…. The look I had at that moment must have been like a savage. When the man looked back, I was about 1.5 to 2 metres away from him. He was so startled that he threw the bag on the ground, quite hard too, and started to run.
Just before I reached the man, he turned around. When he saw me running towards him, he was startled. I know I can put on big eyes when I’m angry or when I really mean something…. The look I had at that moment must have been like a savage. When the man looked back, I was about 1.5 to 2 metres away from him. He was so startled that he threw the bag on the ground, quite hard too, and started to run.
He and his mate got out of there as quickly as they could!
The only thing that came out of me I shouted: ‘Don’t fuck with me!
I immediately picked up my bag from the ground and walked back. I saw that the car was still there with the door open and the engine running. There was a car behind my car and I saw the driver open-mouthed observing what just happened. Only later did I realise how lucky I was that the car was still there. This is another trick of course…luring people out of the car and then driving off with the car because they leave the key in it… Or like me just let it idle.
How insulted I felt!
Robbed in Otjiwarongo – Namibia
When I was in the car, I saw that my wallet and camera were still inside. I looked in front of me and saw that the traffic light turned green and then I drove off. I accelerated and then I heard the sound of the passenger door alarming. The door was not closed properly… I pulled it shut and then it became clear to me what had happened to me. Let me tell you how it had happened…
How angry I was! How offended I was… What are they thinking!
When the man distracted me and I really looked through the open window to the back of my car, the other man quietly opened my passenger door. He quickly grabbed my small bag and closed the door again, but not properly so that I would not hear. His only mistake was walking through my rear-view mirror and not yet having put the bag away.
I checked four times to see if there was anything missing. He really only had the bag for a few seconds, so he hadn’t had time to get something out. What a luck! I had been robbed in Otjiwarongo but he had not succeeded! But I had been bright enough after all. And I had also been brave enough and nothing had happened that I could not handle!
Staying stuck in what if . is of no use to you. I’m not like that either. I am not going to worry about things that have not happened or are not going to happen.
Because, yes, all sorts of things could have gone differently and it could have ended dramatically. But ‘could have’ is not what happened!
How could I be robbed like that in Otjiwarongo?
The doors of the car were still open because I was so close to the traffic lights. Otherwise, of course, they would have locked automatically. They must have seen that I had the back door open … and so they could open the car from the passenger side. I know thistrick … …which is probably why I reacted so quickly.
I thought it was so strange, all the antennae were activated. When he just walked away while nothing was really there, I became totally alert. You can’t imagine what goes through your mind. All possibilities shoot through my head and all the information I saw quickly ruled out possibilities.
How happy I am that at such a moment I see exactly what I need to see! And that I then also act correctly, not shouting right away but first running, trying to overwhelm. And it worked! If he had run off with my bag, I would probably never have been able to keep up with him…. I was running on my slippers and he was 25 years younger than me. I would have had to go back and protect my car with the engine running…
What an idiot…I think afterwards!
By showing himself in my rear-view mirror and just walking straight to his buddy, he betrayed himself …
What shocked me afterwards was the fact that my passport was still in my bag. Usually my passport is not in that bag … But this time it was. That same day I put it away again in my big bag. I had been in Botswana 1 week before and had to show identification to do the Covid Test and to cross the border, and then my passport was still in the bag #sloppy
When, after a while, I came off the main road, I had to get something out of my body …
and yes, then I stand on my head.
I had to catch my breath. Let everything sink in a bit. And yes, it helps me to do that partly upside down 🙂 The first picture in this blog was also taken on the same road and on the same day. I spent some time in the middle of nowhere.
A place where I could come back into balance.
Balance after imbalance – Mindful Life
Being robbed in Otjiwarongo and then sleeping alone on a campsite…
That evening I was at Mount Etjo, a great place. I was on a campsite 3km from the lodge. Actually, I didn’t feel like being alone so I went therefor dinner. They picked me up for that, they offered that possibility. That evening, I was eating at the lodge with a whole group of tourists, I hadn’t seen it so crowded in recent months. I was glad to know that there were so many people in the area. The campsite I had was illuminated and had a nice shelter. It was a very nice place where I felt safe.
Even though I had just been robbed in Otjiwarongo.
I realised very well that the evil / the threat was not something that haunted me. The countryside was as safe as it had been the full 2 months before. It had happened in the city of Otjiwarongo … The city is often the place where most crime takes place. Still, I secretly left the light on all night so that I could see everything around my 4WD …
After this I had another two weeks in Namibia and enjoyed all the beauty that Namibia has to offer.
The next day, I did choose for an upgrade and spent the afternoon at the swimming pool of Damara Mopana Lodge…
An oasis in the middle of the desert