Cute Baby Animals At Knifepoint


This blog entry about the events of Saturday, March 20, 2004 was originally posted on March 22, 2004.

DAY 154:  If you’ve read the comments of Day 149, you probably know that I got mugged at knifepoint at dusk on Sunday, March 21st.  Since my little Sony digital spy camera was violently cut off its strap by my assailant’s blade, there are no pictures for this Blog entry.  Therefore, in lieu of the photos I would have shown you from this violent day, I have posted tranquil pictures of cute baby animals that I found on the internet.

Before I knew that any sort of mugging was going to happen, my day was fairly boring.  As the day was progressing, my angle for this entry was going to involve New York City things appearing in Cape Town, the first being the decent bagel I had with cream cheese and lox at the nearby Mugg & Bean coffeehouse (South Africa’s Starbucks).  After breakfast I just lounged around the hostel backyard with my laptop to catch up on Blog duties.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was a good idea that I backed up all my digital photos from my camera up until that day — which is why you’ve seen photos for the past four entries. 

I took a break and decided to walk to the waterfront for one last visit.  It was there that my Cape Town adventure began and I thought it’d be poetic for me to end it there since it was to supposed to be my last day in town.  The V&A Waterfront was packed with people; it was the only place open for shopping and dining on a Sunday.  Street performers sang, danced and played their music instruments.

In the Victoria Wharf shopping mall, I stopped in a J&M location, which stood for Joubert and Monty’s, the Purveyors of Fine Biltong.  What the bagel is to New York City, biltong is to Cape Town.  Essentially it is jerky made from a variety of meats.  The wors (sausage) form of it looks like dried up intestines, but what it lacks in appearance it makes up in taste.  I opted for the ostrich.

WITH SUNSET APPROACHING, I decided to walk back to the hostel to continue my Blog duties.  I walked past the famous uncompleted Capetonian highway overpass that, due to an error in urban planning, won’t be finished, and the famous African statue in St. George’s pedestrian mall with Bart Simpson heads all over it to represent the westernization of Africa.  In Greenmarket Square there was a film shoot for a New Balance sneaker commercial, where the crew tried to fake the New York City marathon with fake “5th Ave. / Museum Mile” signs.  I managed to sneak on as an extra, cheering on the runners at the sidelines.  Whether or not my face made it into the shot, I don’t know.

Long Street was its usual Sunday ghost town with its shady characters that I’d always walk past with my guard up and lack of eye contact.  There were many shady peddlers around of whom I just ignored or said a simple “sorry” without stopping my stride.  The usual drug dealers followed me for a couple of steps hoping for a transaction, but left me alone after a simple “no.”

Long Street was a breeze.

I WAS HALF A BLOCK from my hostel, walking up Park Road, the little residential side street on a hill that linked my hostel with the nearby strip mall with internet, coffeehouses, shops, a theater and a grocery store.  It was around seven o’clock, dusk.  The sun wasn’t completely set yet, but on Park Road it was a bit shadowy with all the buildings around. 

No biggie, I’d walked up this road many times before with no problem.

I was about half way up the hill on the sidewalk.  An old woman with groceries was walking up too, just in the middle of the road.  Two other women across the street were getting ready to go somewhere in their BMW.  A man and a boy were casually walking down the hill on the sidewalk as if on their way to get something to eat.

Suddenly, when the man and boy were about twenty feet in front of me, they bum rushed me with heavy footsteps.  As they got closer, I saw that the man, perhaps 6’3”, had a knife.

Now this was my first real mugging in my life.  I had always wondered how I would react in such a situation or what I would do — would I try and reason with the mugger or make a joke to get him off his violent high?  But everything happened so fast, there was no time for such thoughts.

The man made it very known to me that he had a knife in his hand and pointed it near my stomach.  The boy, perhaps only seven or eight years old, emptied my front pockets.  He took all my loose change, my notepad with my Blog notes, and my little Sony digital spy camera, which hung off my belt loop with a key latch.  The man didn’t bother with the latch and just cut the camera straight off its strap with his blade before frisking my back pockets.  Although my wallet was in my right (and only) back pocket, he only felt my left side, where my hidden pocket pouch was attached behind.  He saw that there was no entry to the contents on my left side.  (It is only accessible if you flip it out from inside my trousers.)

“WHERE IS YOUR MONEY?!” he demanded, brandishing the knife in front of me, face covered in the shadows.

“Okay, wait,” I said, unzipping my back pocket to hand over my wallet.  “Here.” 

I sacrificed the wallet, hoping it would distract his attention away from the contents of my “hidden” pocket (which had my passport and credit cards) — or killing me for that matter.  It worked, because as soon as he had the wallet in his hands, he and the boy dashed away from the scene of the crime, up the hill, around the corner and out of sight.

When it was all over, hanging off my belt loop was a nylon camera strap with nothing hanging off the end.  On my back was my backpack that they ignored entirely.  In my “hidden” pocket remained my passport, credit card, driver’s license and an emergency $100 American dollar bill.

My assailants had gotten away with just my camera (with memory stick) and my wallet, which had about $250 worth (USD) in currency, a $50 American Express travelers check, my ATM/debit card, my diver certification card, some notes and business cards — all of which were replaceable.  On the ground near my feet, the boy had left my irreplaceable Blog notepad, which I probably would have fought for if they had taken it.

Say it in a Braveheart-esque way with blue war face paint on: 

“They can take away our money, but they can’t take away… OUR BLOG!!!”

THE OLD WOMAN WALKING UP with her groceries who had seen the whole thing, sighed and just shook her head in shame of her country’s youth.  The two women across the street were getting into their car as I continued my way up the hill to the hostel.

“Were you just robbed?” one of them asked me.

I smirked and sort of chuckled with the absurdity of it all.  “Yeah, I was just mugged.”

“It looked like you just dropped something or something like that,” she said.  True, from afar, the whole scene probably didn’t look like a mugging at all until the two ran off like madmen.

The two women offered me a ride in their Beamer up the hill and around the corner back to The Backpack.  “It’s good you just gave them the wallet,” the older woman said.  “They don’t value life here at all.”

“Welcome to South Africa,” the other said.  Funny, I was just about to leave.

LIKE A CHARACTER ON A SITCOM, I entered the backpackers office where Eve and Ingmar were helping out two guests.

“Hey, I’ve just been mugged!”  (Cue laugh track here.)

In actuality it was no laughing matter.  Word of my incident spread around the hostel and suddenly people thought twice about walking around at night, even nearby.  Personally, I wasn’t about to leave myself for the rest of the evening,  Besides, I had to begin the long, arduous task of canceling my things and getting replacements.

Eve the French girl helped me out with phone calls to American Express and Citibank.  It was quite an ordeal trying to call collect overseas with a million different operators handling different situations.  After a couple of hours on the phone, I finally managed to get a refund for my $50 Amex check and a cancellation of my bank card with a new one to arrive in 2-3 business days.  I managed to keep a clear head and positive smart-alecky attitude through the whole thing.

“It is possible for me to start a tab?” I asked Eve.  “So that, maybe, I could have beer?”


THAT NIGHT I MET OTHERS in the television lounge who had decided to stay in rather than go out after hearing about my story.  Well, that and the fact that Return of the Jedi was on one of the broadcast channels. 

I introduced myself and recollected the whole story one more time, making light of it and laughing it off.  Kate, an Irish-American from Long Island, New York was confused at my behavior.  “You seem to be the least bothered by this,” she said, speaking for the others in the room worried about their own safeties.

Well of course I was in a good mood; the Death Star had just been destroyed and Darth Vader had just denounced the Dark Side by throwing the evil Emperor Palpatine down a shaft!

As I lay in bed that night counting my blessings, I knew that things could have been worse.  A lot worse.  On the bright side, at least I got away unharmed, for the sake of myself, my family, The Fellowship of The Blog and, of course, all the cute baby animals out there.

Next entry: The Positive Poster Child

Previous entry: Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Into A Protective Steel Cage…

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Comments for “Cute Baby Animals At Knifepoint”


    dood..funniest pos ever!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/22  at  12:19 PM

  • btw. LOVE THE V&A WATERFRONT pic. I got a new desktop!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/22  at  12:21 PM

  • MAN! I’m behind in my reading! Glad to hear you’re ok… Stupid muggers! what’s with getting mugged one block from your house?

    nothing too much exciting going on here in colorado except 75 degree weather and it’s no longer snowing in the mountains, it’s raining! :(
    n smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/22  at  12:27 PM

  • bagel with cream cheese and lox is prolly my favorite…

    my assilants is funny too…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/22  at  12:48 PM

  • Erik - your attitude is awesome.  I laughed my ass off at the photos.  My husband is like “Why are you laughing??!! He was mugged!!!” Although, I’d suggest baby raccoons for the “My assailants” link smile

    Posted by Liz  on  03/22  at  12:54 PM

  • Good on you Erik! Should I ever have the misfortune of being mugged, I hope I take it was well as you!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/22  at  02:50 PM

  • Erik - At first I was like, what the hell is up with that dog? Great way to stay positive at the situation - I was laughing my ass off at every picture.

    Posted by dunlavey  on  03/22  at  03:40 PM

  • The pics are brillant!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/22  at  04:07 PM

  • This is really upsetting to me personally because I was planning on mugging you when we met up in Spain.

    Posted by matto  on  03/22  at  06:00 PM

  • sorry to hear you were mugged.  the pictures are hilarious. haha.

    Posted by Alyson  on  03/22  at  11:31 PM

  • HAHAHAH!! GREAT ENTRY!!! made me laugh. “my assailants” should have been a warthog! stupid muggers!!

    i’ll look for you in the new balance sneaker commercial… you’re a superstar.

    (i’m jealous)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/23  at  12:34 AM

  • hey - if your assailants were smart, they would’ve kept the hand written blog notes! he could’ve sold them on ebay.. too bad he didn’t know you were a famous writer!


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/23  at  01:04 AM

  • ALL:  I must admit that I read this over and laugh out loud hysterically when I see the pictures too.

    LIZ:  Raccoons!  Damn, great idea, but what’s done is done…  Wait until the next mugging; I anticipate two more before The Global Trip 2 is over…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/23  at  08:34 AM

  • LOVEPENNY:  Some how I knew that you out of all people would have appreciated the humor in this one…

    Where’s the oogster?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/23  at  09:19 AM

  • glad you are okay!  will send my $7 over now!  and this entry is KILLLLLER. bwhahahahah

    Posted by hanalei  on  03/23  at  10:40 AM

  • wahaha. i love the picture of your bagel. that was the best. i am glad you are ok, and having a good laugh out of this. and those hidden pockets pants sound cool. where did you get those? i wouldn’t mind having a pair. =)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/23  at  03:49 PM

  • Erik, glad to hear that you handled the ordeal well and that you are ok and in good spirits smile

    I must say as well, that my favorite pic was the assailants…....too funny haha Who would have ever suspected them?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/23  at  04:06 PM

  • Damn, I had forgotten you were going to Cape Town.  I would have given you the number of a friend you can stay with.  It’s no suprise no one helped you.  People there are too scared.  Are you going to Jo’burg?  Go to Jo’burg!  If you’re interested, I have friends there too.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/23  at  07:15 PM

  • Those pictures are really quite lovely… I never knew that bagels were so adorable - thanks! Glad you’re okay.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/23  at  08:50 PM

  • DEWBIE:  NEVER trust a shitz-hu!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/24  at  05:17 AM

  • LAURA:  I’ll be in Jo’burg for a day layover en route to Malawi in the next coming weeks…  Hook me up!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/24  at  05:20 AM

  • At first I felt guilty laughing at this entry, esp. since you were mugged.  I’m really glad you’re ok!!!  Keep bloggin’ on!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/24  at  12:05 PM

  • YVETTE:  It’s funnier than normal because it IS about a mugging.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/24  at  02:15 PM

  • you are so cool… this is by far the cutest blog ever!

    hope youre doing better. 

    ‘pretty animals!’

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/25  at  11:07 AM

  • I just emailed my friend Ryan.  He’s one of the editors of “This Day.”  It’s a national newspaper there.  Pick it up sometime.  He’s the senior arts editor and his picture is usually in there.  When exactly will you be there? I’ll email you when he responds.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/25  at  12:56 PM

  • HANALEI - Leah said “pretty animals”


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/25  at  01:31 PM

  • I got the NIZ blues… woo hooo ...

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/25  at  02:12 PM

  • SIM: for your NIZ blues, play till you can’t take it anymore:

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/25  at  02:14 PM

  • markyt:  bwwwwwHAHAHAH SHE DID SAY PRETTY ANIMALS! smile bwhahhahaha

    Posted by hanalei  on  03/25  at  03:21 PM

  • Markyt: thanks yo, Its excite Bike on crack! .. Have a good weekend ya’ll it’s beaut here in D.C. .... peace!
    I’m rich beeeotch !!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/25  at  04:25 PM

  • I hope the little puppy didn’t mug you for your bagel with cream cheese and lox….....


    Bye, Bye

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/27  at  01:32 PM

  • Those damn shitzus!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/27  at  07:21 PM

  • MICHAEL J. RIVERA:  No, the bunnies ate my bagels!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/28  at  06:55 AM

  • wow…sorry to hear about the whole mugging incident…good luck with everything else…and your bagel with cream cheese and lox had to be my favorite…

    Posted by Jun  on  03/29  at  03:52 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
The Positive Poster Child

Previous entry:
Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Into A Protective Steel Cage…


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