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  • Brian D. Hinson

Pickpocketed in the Bustle of Djenne, Mali on Market Day


This was the first time I had ever been pickpocketed. I thought I was travel-savvy enough that this couldn’t happen. I had taken the usual precautions: I didn’t have all of my cash or cards on me, my passport was in my travel belt beneath my pants, my wallet was buttoned up in my back pocket. But when I was in the crush of the crowd, enjoying the rush of a hectic market day in West Africa, it didn’t occur to me that the few seconds of someone pressing against me from behind was actually swiping my wallet. Yes, despite the buttoned-up pocket. The guy had skills. It only dawned on me a minute later, and I when reached behind and felt for my wallet…gone. Shit. They got about $40, my drivers license, one credit card. I had to hit an internet café to cancel the card (this was 2008).


That was the only blot on that trip. Not long after dawn my friend Caren Rosenblatt and I visited the mud mosque in town, the largest on the planet. It was a beautiful morning, and the early sunlight on the earthen walls of the mosque gave warm hues for the camera. Caren took an offered tour of the interior, and she reported on the silence and the beautiful prayer rugs. I love the photo she took of me with the mosque in the background. No, it’s not in the gallery. I figure you’re here to see the sights, not me.

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