I cannot find it. My 600 euros that I had hidden in my pink make-up pouch so people won’t know it’s actually a money pouch. Had I misplaced it?
My head frantically shifts through my memory. When was the last time I opened this bag? I check my first-aid kit pouch, electrical charger pouch, toiletry bag, telling myself think, think, think.

I call my friend in Dubai, and my friend picks up my call during a meeting with a customer. Panic already setting in, I can’t even explain the situation properly and abruptly ask, “Have I left any euros at your flat?” “No,” my friend says. “But I’ll have a look again”.

I open the front pocket of my luggage. There is an unopened, brand new dark chocolate bar my mum had put in for me. Only that the wrapper is now torn open and a bite has been taken off from it. A realisation. I go back to my pink pouch again and take out an empty envelope.  The significance is that it’s an envelope that used to contain the cash. I connect the dots. An intruder. A Thief.

This is how my first morning in Burkina Faso began. An airport staff (Qatar? Algiers? Burkina Faso?) breaking into my checked in luggage and then leaving his teeth mark on my favourite bar of chocolate as if to say,  hey, I’ve been here.

The local police says they can’t issue a report, and my travel insurance company says they won’t be able to issue me a compensation for this particular loss (so much for the Premier level insurance). None of the ATMS here will accept my master card and all I have is 90 euros in my pocket. There goes all my plans to travel around the country, and here I am, stranded in this foreign land of Burkina Faso.


9 September 2014, Burkina Faso