UR SURVIVAL: How I Was Saved By A Stranger In Cape Town
Written By Angelica Salinas
This article was originally published on Honesty For Breakfast, an online lifestyle publication. Be sure to check out their site for daily articles on dating, fashion and culture.
I lived with a host family for nearly 6 months in Cape Town, South Africa. While there, I never felt unsafe in our neighborhood. We didn’t live in the wealthiest of neighborhoods, but we lived in an area where it was safe for me to walk around in. Every day I commuted to school and often took the train ten stops. The walk from home to train was about 10 minutes (that is, if I didn’t take a wrong turn, which I sometimes did in my dazed strolling).
One day I was careless and left my computer sticking out of my satchel. I know, it was like the number one rule my host mom had told me: keep your expensive belongings hidden or, more importantly, don’t carry them at all. But in my haste to catch the train from the coffee shop I frequently inhabited, I didn’t pack my bag very well and left my Macbook sticking out. Two men followed me from the station.
I was cool and collected as I walked. I knew they were following me on the other side of the street. I occasionally glanced at them through my peripheral vision, noting how they whispered to one another while glancing at me. I prepared myself for a mugging. Considering how much cash I had in my wallet and what else I could give them in exchange for my safety, my heart began to pound.
“Welp, this is going to happen,” I thought to myself. I thought about all the lost pictures on my computer, articles, notes, and personal information. Without realizing it, my pace began to quicken and the two men crossed the street towards me at an even faster pace. My fists clenched. I held my breath.
A suburban sped up from behind me, nearly running them over, but blocking them and me. A woman rolled down the window, and in a sweet but stern voice said, “Get in.”
I weighed my options: get in a stranger’s vehicle or get mugged by the two men she had blocked. I looked in her backseat and saw a baby in a car seat. Babies have a strange way of making you feel comforted and safe. The woman’s eyes implored me. I made up my mind. Opening the door, I quickly got in as she drove off.
We sat in silence as she drove in circles. “What were you thinking?!,” she asked. “Anyone could have spotted that Macbook! You’re not from around here, are you?!” As soon as I spoke, my accent gave me away — a foolish American girl. She asked where I lived and told me she’d take me there after making a few more laps in the neighborhood to make sure they weren’t following us.
The baby laughed and reached for me. The woman sighed and looked at me through the rear view window. I saw tears. Truly, I had scared her. A stranger in this world had put her life and her baby’s life in harms way to save me. What if they had pulled out a weapon? What if they had broken her window? As she dropped me off, she made me promise I’d be more careful. And I knew I would after being saved by a stranger in Cape Town.
Angelica Salinas is a writer currently living in Northern California. She was born and raised in Texas and has also lived in Maine and South Africa. Angelica has two degrees from Santa Clara University in English Lit and Business Marketing. When she is not writing, you can find her reading or eating ice cream, probably both. Follow her here: @anneerae and see her blog here:www.smilewithangelica.com