It was hot as balls. I was sweating before I left the air-conditioned car.

It was our first day in Nicaragua, and so far we’d made it safely out of the city of Managua to our one planned stop before the beach: Granada, a city known for its colonial architecture.

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Since we’d flown a redeye, it had been a long time since our last real meal — airplane “chicken” sandwiches don’t cut it — and hunger pains were setting in. We walked through the town square and up and down the streets looking for just the right lunch spot.

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A boy, maybe 5 years old, offered Kirk an origami flower he had folded from palm fronds. Kirk declined. He offered it to me. I shook my head. He was persistant, walking closely next to us, but only briefly. Intensely. Shortly after, a different boy ran up and grabbed onto my arm. I kept walking and tried to pull my arm away without being too forceful. No dice. He readjusted his grip, swinging from my arm like a monkey. Hey, no, no! I lifted my arm up high, then up and down, nearly shaking him — like you would a dog to shake loose a toy. Finally, he let go.

Kirk asked if I was OK. It wasn’t until later I realized he was trying to steal my watch.

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After walking back and forth between a few restaurants, we settled on an Irish pub, not for fish & chips, but because of their fresh fruit smoothies and our indecision fatigue.

We sat outside. I was extremely hot and sticky. I removed my bag that had been hanging across my body and put it on the ground next to my feet. Then I thought better of it and moved it to the tabletop. We ordered a smoothie each and a plate of gallo pinto to share. After the food arrived, the same boy trying to sell us the frond flower went skipping through the outdoor eating area. He passed us, then turned on his heal, surveying us for the briefest moment. He walked right toward our table, eyeing us, half-smiling, spying my bag. It was lying next to my left arm. I discretely clenched a couple of left fingers around the shoulder strap. Now he was at our table, half dancing, half hopping from one foot to the other. The manager, who was standing in the doorway, pointed a finger at him, Vamanos! He turned to walk away, then came right back, eyeing my bag.

He was going to steal it — while I watched.

One of the waitresses yelled at him. He lingered. She came down the steps, crossed the sidewalk yelling, “Shoo! Vamanos!!”

Finally, he took off.

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I was told by friends who’d been to Nicaragua that I shouldn’t wear jewelry or anything remotely ‘fancy.’ No problem, I thought. Yet, I completely forgot that my 10-year-old $50 Fossil watch — my old, beat-up watch that I love and wear everywhere — probably looked fancy, too. And my bag, the one my friend Dom brought me back from Bali? I’d been wearing it over my shoulder, across my body. Should have never taken it off, should have kept it in my lap.

Thankfully, I still have my watch, and my bag. I wasn’t robbed. Just almost. ☼