Shining A Light on the Dark Continent

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Kenya

Someone robbed Dave. Or, at least someone stole money from his suitcase. You know how you get that sinking feeling that the day is not going to go right? For Dave it started upon arrival at the Entebbe Airport.

Entebbe Airport -- scene of the crime!
Entebbe Airport — scene of the crime!

“I think we were in line in traffic to get into the airport for about 45 minutes. The police were checking every vehicle and patting down all the people. We weren’t sure what was going on – whether an important visitor was coming or they were looking for someone,” Dave said.

The second clue that not all was right with the world was near the Kenya Airways desk when someone asked Dave if he was carrying a camera or a laptop in his suitcase. “I said, ‘no’ and didn’t think any more of it.”

But when he opened his suitcase in his room at the Ole Sereni Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya – surprise! “Someone had rifled through my suitcase. My travel kit was pulled up from the bottom of my suitcase and I had that sick feeling.”

Some of the places Dave travelled, including the Comoros Islands – his next stop – do not use credit cards. It is a cash-only system, so Dave had about $1,300 cash with him to pay for two days lodging, car rental, meals and incidentals.

“I don’t like having that much cash all in one place in case of theft or robbery and I had a couple hiding places in my suitcase. My travel kit was one of those places,” he said. The thieves did not find the other hiding place, thankfully, and Dave estimated he lost about $600.

“What I learned through all this is that banks and insurance companies don’t advertise how to contact them very well,” Dave said.

With the help of the public affairs person, Khalid, and the front desk clerk, Dave filled out an on-line claim form with USAA Insurance. Then he talked to Kenyan Airways and got claim forms from them as well, made copies of all the forms plus his tickets, passport and luggage tags, got some Kenyan shillings out of an ATM and got on with his trip the next day.

Dave learned it is a good idea to have different hiding places when carrying large amounts of cash, but once you get to these foreign airports, move the money to your person. “Apparently the initial security noticed the metal strips in the U.S. currency and gave someone a heads-up in the baggage area.” Also, know how to contact the bank and your insurance agency before leaving. It will save you the headache.

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