Pickpockets!

As some of you know, my phone was stolen on Monday; my trip around West Africa didn’t get off to an auspicious first day. However, I’m unexpectedly chipper about the whole event. For a start, when I bought the phone originally, in late August last year, after my trusted Blackberry broke (I sat on it and broke the screen; the replacement screen caused my battery life to shorten to an unacceptable one day), I did so knowing that I’d soon be travelling the world for a year, so I ‘downgraded’ to a Nokia Asha 210 – I needed something with reasonable usability, a keyboard, and a long battery life, and was willing to forego many cute features – knowing that if I did lose it, get it stolen, or it broke, that it was a pretty low-range phone so I wouldn’t have lost much.

One thing I have (presumably) lost is my mobile phone number, which is a bit of a shame as I’d had that number since my first phone in 1999. Although I have lost phones before and ended up keeping the same number so who knows.

I’m just surprised it took over a year for me to lose my phone; my record with mobile phones isn’t great. Usually I end up breaking them by dropping them or throwing them at doors in piques of frustration. It’s not a great deal of a surprise how it was stolen – from out of a very frayed top pocket of one of my shirts by someone bumping me in a market area on the outskirts of Accra city centre. I can tell you who did it too – a tall man with a green football top (possibly Nigeria) and a yellow-ish backpack.

Annoyingly, about two hours earlier I’d bought a Ghanaian SIM so I could make cheaper calls and texts if need be; I just hadn’t got round to inserting it, so the phone was stolen with my UK SIM card in it … As soon as I got back to the hostel I managed to make contact with Vodafone and get my SIM cancelled. Weirdly, if you lose your phone, the way they prefer you to tell them is … by phone – a helpful suggestion when you’re trying to tell them you don’t have a phone; the only Internet option seemed to be Live Chat (I did Tweet them but got no response).

Tuesday, I went out to a shop local to the hostel and bought the cheapest phone they had – a Nokia 110 for the equivalent of £10. Not having a phone does kind of disturb me, but oddly not for the reasons you’d imagine – its main use is as a glorified watch. I don’t really like wearing jewellery or ornamentation (says the man currently sporting two toe rings), so I’ve not worn a watch since my schooldays, but a phone feels much more natural to have on me.

It’s actually the first time when I’ve been travelling that I’ve got a local SIM; it’s ‘pay as you go’, obviously, which makes it much easier to keep track f my spending – I’ve had situations before where my standard monthly mobile bill of £15 has shot up to £200 just because I’ve been sending too many txtmsgs. A text message to the UK seems to cost me 0.5 Cedis, which works out at 10p; sending messages back home on my old UK contract would have cost 35p.

I just have to make sure I don’t lose this one too.

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