Other Grandeur Travelers.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Old Travel Tales: The Gypsies Made Me Cry






I lose things all the time. The surprise factor is close to nil when it happens. People straightforwardly ask: "What is it..AGAIN?" Cellphones. Laptops. Cameras. Ipods. Money. Ballpens (millions probably). I can never seem to escape such misfortune. Half of the time, my badluck is brought about by carelessness. For the remaining half, it is due to a mastered craft by millions -- thievery. I suppose thieves think I am an easy target. They are instantly drawn to my non-thief resistant energy. That I had to uncover the hard way.

It was May 4, 2007. My 1-month vacation around Europe was about to end but it did not feel right to leave yet. The half day I had left in Paris may have not been sufficient but that did not stop me from savoring my last few hours as a Parisian. My dilemma was where that "savoring" would take place. I decided to stay in the gardens of Palais Royal, which was a lovely and divine place near the Louvre. Sitting on one of the park benches under a well- aligned and trimmed tree, I kept on wishing for a few more days in the city. The overpowering allure of Paris beckoned and taunted. Fate knew what to do with that desire. It was granted at a price I was not ready to pay.

One day before my flight, I was in St Germain des Pres, a favorite shopping district of Paris. I was there to look for a pasalubong (in our vernacular, anything you want to buy for anyone when you travel) for my mom. Finding a pasalubong for her was not hard since Louis Vuitton, Chanel, or Hermes bags never suited her practical taste in fashion. My search led me to a quaint antique shop where I found a Euro-friendly straw tote bag with Parisian cafes painted all over it. I believed that was the right bag for her--authentic and unpretentious. However, I failed to envision that bag was about to become the worst purchase during my entire trip.
When I arrived at the Charles de Gaulle airport, I haphazardly stacked all my bags and luggages on top of each other onto my push cart. Since there was nothing else to do, taking pictures until my camera's battery died was the best way to keep me occupied. Satisfied with all my shots, I placed my camera inside the widely open tote bag I had recently bought.
It slipped out of my consciousness that I needed to find the Emirates check-in counter. I had an hour and a half before boarding my flight to Dubai. Unaware of my surroundings, I went to the help desk and asked one of the ladies where my check-in counter was. My push cart was right behind me but I did not think something unpleasant would be happening in a few minutes.
As I was lining up behind the counter, I thought about removing all the fluids out of my bags and luggages before reaching the security check-points to avoid hassling myself. Before I even started, I noticed that my brown jacket was missing. My messenger bag with my ipod (and more!) in it was also gone! And to my horror, the unthinkable was staring at me. The tote bag was nowhere in sight! At that moment, there was a vertiginous flashback of my entire vacation. Rome. Milan. Venice. Madrid, Toledo, and Paris. Most of my pictures were gone! (except for Cologne, Frankfurt, Linz, Bonn and Amsterdam. We all burned the files to a cd). It was a peculiar feeling that briefly destroyed the enthusiasm I had for traveling.
The situation was out of my control. My airway closed and I was literally gasping for air. It was like an imminent asthma attack. The tragic heaviness of it all made cry. Without a moment's hesitation, I left my cart in the middle of the airport and ran around, in vain hope of recovering that tote bag. People must have been wondering who this deranged boy was. My bags might have fallen out my cart, I thought. "Maybe someone surrendered it to the lost and found section"?
"Sh*t Sh*t". These were the only words in my head. Two French security personnel approached me and warned me that leaving my luggage in the middle of the airport was suspicious. An act that may warrant further extensive interrogation. I explained my situation but eliciting empathy from these Frenchmen was impossible. Did I look a lunatic terrorist capable of wiring a couple of bombs in his luggages? Ay Caramba. I was panicking and no one could understand me. Words were flying out of my mouth with lighting but occasionally-disrupted-by-stuttering speed. You'd think the French airport personnel could have at least understood simple and plain English. Was this possibly the so-called French arrogance? Would help not be given until you spoke the French magic words? For a busy airport, Charles de Gaulle clearly lacked tight security measures and foresight. They had no security cameras in most areas and everyone could just go inside the airport.
Of all the people there, a limousine driver named Andreas was the only person who was generous enough to help me. Fortunately, he spoke both French and English. He said that it was common for that to happen. "A laptop was even stolen while it was in front of the owner", he stressed. We went to the lost and found section but to no avail. We asked dozens of people but no one claimed to have seen any of my things. Andreas still wanted to extend the rare French altruism but a client was waiting for him. "Don't worry, I'll figure it out. Merci", I said.

The Gypsies were my primary suspect. I heard they were masters of this craft. I imagined them dressed like Esmeralda in Hunchback of Notredame but that would not be the smartest disguise, I reckoned. My second suspect: a syndicate that had some people doing an inside job. It was fool-proof. Act like you did not know anything. The third: There was not any. This was a reality prank show called "1001 ways to make a stranger shamelessly cry in public!".
What was I going to do now? At least my wallet and credit card were not stolen. With all the horror I was experiencing, the world became obscure. I remembered that my flight would leave in 40 minutes and I had not checked-in yet. Emirates pressured me to decide whether I would board the plane or not. The Emirates' staff showed mercy when they mentioned that rebooking my flight would not cost me anything. Obviously, I could not leave without any pictures of the Eiffel tower or the Louvre. It would be bollocks. Sure, I had photos but they were all taken using my underpixerlated camera phone. Tina and I really should've taken more pictures together.

I was running out of time and a quick decision was necessary. I thought that five more days in Paris seemed right. I texted my Dad and he told me extra cash will be sent via Western Union. ] Despite that, no amount of money can replace the pictures that will soon be erased by someone who will look past my smiles and jump shots. That person would press the "Delete all" command, devoid of any trace of remorse. Karma will have its way with them.

I had no hotel or any lodging that night, which made my predicament more complicated. I had to pull out all my resources together. I needed to wriggle out of my desperate situation. I texted Cyrille, a Parisian I had the pleasure of meeting through Angeline, a Malaysian girl I had met at the Aloha Hostel. To my relief, Cyrille and her girlfriend were nice enough to let me stay in their house in Ivry-sur-Seine, located in the south-eastern suburbs of Paris. The last thing I wanted to do was wander around Paris looking for a hotel while carrying all my luggages.

The train ride from Charles de Gaulle to Ivry was a dark and lonely journey. I did not lose anyone but I lost part of myself that day. Worse, I had lost trust in humanity. When I reached Cyrille's home, I was a wreck. Smiling was the last thing on my mind but my Dad brought back my optimism using few words. He sent me a text message: You are in Paris. Just enjoy every single minute of it.

It took me a while to realize what that had truly meant. But yes, my dad was right. I was in the City of Lights! It was not about pictures. My vivid memories and experiences would suffice. I understood what had happened might have been terrible, but I was still one of the few lucky people who had five more days to relive the Parisian dream. I forced myself to sleep, believing that the following morning, my spirit would be in fighting form. And it certainly was. Paris was again waiting for me to rediscover its magic.

N.B
(That morning, I saw one of my memory cards which had a some of my pictures from Spain, Venice, etc. The next day, I got to stay at a hotel near the Louvre. I even watched the French open. Best thing - I met a Filipino family (my uncle's friend) that adopted me for four days! but of course, it wasn't all well..

.
La Tour Eiffel

Da Vinci Trail. St Sulpice. Where is the Rose Line??

Dinner with (L-R) Celine, Cyrille, Angeline in the 13th arrondissement (district)

I think this is my only picture with Tina in Paris!

Sculptures in the Louvre

May be prohibited but who cares.

Sacre Coeur Basilica (Sacred Heart)

Jardin du Luxembourg

Arc de Triomphe on Champes-Elysees

Got to watch the French Open (Another story!)

On St Michel. Near Tita Mina's apartment
(Notice my European Tan?)

More Salvaged pictures:



Going up Le Tour Eiffel!

Ahhh....Paris. Views from the Eiffel Tower.








16 comments:

maria said...

Coming to this post reminded me of the world tour which I had with my family last year....It was one of the best time I have ever spent with my family.
europe cruises

deobaraanmd said...

Wow that sounds like fun maria! Travel time with family will always be the most moments in our lives. Thanks again for reading my entries!

happysole said...

how unfortunate.. but would you say that what happened to you during your travels made the trip much more memorable? trans: more stories to tell.. =) happy travelin'!

deobaraanmd said...

CORRECTION: @maria - most memorable moments..

@ happysole - hi there! yes that trip will never be forgotten. They were the best pasalubong I had for everyone - more stories. Thannks for dropping by!

Cheers to More travels! :P

nancy said...

so sad.... i was touch when ur dad sent u a message YOU ARE IN PARIS just enjoy every single minute of it... becareful next time ok? ^_^

deobaraanmd said...

ive been careful nancy. i try. haha. thanks

taz said...

I had misfortunes too... First when i was in Manila June last year ..just came from our wonderful trip in Boracay and Coron. My 3 month old N95 slipped out from my pocket in the taxi. Funny coz i can still contact my number til now and even asked for important contacts. Tried to ask him if i can buy my cellphone, he just said he just found the sim...lol! And just recently during our trip to PP, my wallet was stolen in the airport. I thought it would be better to put it in the bag than slip out again in my shallow pocket learning from the previous trip. Despite all what happened...i just think of great moments we had in our trips and im feeling ok.

taz said...

I had misfortunes too... First when i was in Manila June last year ..just came from our wonderful trip in Boracay and Coron. My 3 month old N95 slipped out from my pocket in the taxi. Funny coz i can still contact my number til now and even asked for important contacts. Tried to ask him if i can buy my cellphone, he just said he just found the sim...lol! And just recently during our trip to PP, my wallet was stolen in the airport. I thought it would be better to put it in the bag than slip out again in my shallow pocket learning from the previous trip. Despite all what happened...i just think of great moments we had in our trips and im feeling ok.

deobaraanmd said...

i agree taz! we all need to forget what we've lost and remember the great experiences we've had during these trips. :But of course, we have to be more careful next time. haha :P

Mike Talplacido said...

I stumbled upon your blog through Definitely Pinoy on Facebook! Good stuff/stories, and you took some really cool pictures.

Mike

deobaraanmd said...

thanks mike! hope you've enjoyed my posts here. I'll have more interesting travels soon.

ronald said...

nice travel blog!!! I wish I could make my own travel blog like this one. Thru my line of work, i also had the chance to visit some of the best cities in the world, yet I still love to travel and explore our beautiful country Philippines! Keep it up bro!
PS: add me and check some of my travel photos on FB, http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/ronaldfajardo.rocket

deobaraanmd said...

thanks ronald! if you really want to start your own blog, just do it. :P

I agree that no matter how much I enjoy exploring other countries, our country will always remain number 1 place for travel.

Will check your FB pictures.

vienna said...

woah!! waaaaa sayang nga lhat ng nawala sau tsktsk... but overall, great trip!!! :))

vienna said...

sa prague, sana one day mkpunta k dun.. pra atleast mn lng sa blog mo eh mbisita ko ang npkgndng city na un.. haha ..

deobaraanmd said...

@vienna - yes haha. we all have to learn from those experiences. ill go to prague when I find time for it. I'll be sharing it with all of you when that happens. salamat!