A theif in the night...
Trip Start May 31, 2008
33Trip End Jul 31, 2009
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These are the incidents which make the gossip spoken in hostel bars and busses around the world to which I have already alluded in my blog, I am only a part of the that process, a cog in the wheel of the backpacker machine which feeds the poor and drains the bank accounts of the more well off... It was bound to happen I guess, especially in South America, Iīm just a little frustrated that I am now at my penultimate destination when it happened... so near and yet so far!
The boring part of the story is that I boarded the bus from Puno to Cusco with Dan (Canadian) and Andrew 'Youngy' Young, our new friend and energy bomb of a crazy true blue northern Queensland Aussie. I love this guy already... Anyway... so the 10pm bus stopped at 12pm to pick up more people and I had to change seats and sit next to Youngy, moving my bag with said kit under a chair in the aisle... no overhead storage in the posh `Full Carma` bus which we had chosen for a treat.
I didn`t sleep too great, there was a women with a baby behind us and two girls at the back who kept on going two and fro to the toilet. On being awoken by Youngey I started packing my pillow into my bag only to realise what was missing. I immediately started combing the bus, sure it would be under a seat or something. No such luck, I went outside and told my party what had happened. A girl called Gab did a good job of translating and the bus inspector said he wished weīd alerted him earlier so he could search the bus. Too late. My hostel pick up took me to the police station at the terminal and they said to go to the main station in Cusco later that day.
This is where the story really begins... the experience of Peruvian police investigation.
I caught a taxi and went to police station alone and on arrival met a Scottish couple in exactly the same situation as me having lost a laptop. By the looks on their faces they didnīt have their data backed up I donīt think?
I was questioned initially by a very unhelpful officer who commenced the investigation on pen and paper, getting me to fill in silly questions such as marital status and not listening to the answers I was giving him. He started asking whether I had reciepts which I thought was ridiculous, and when I told him I had a photocopy of my camera reciept online he told me there was no internet! What sort of a police station was this? He said they have a lot of fake claims and needed to be sure, but upon consulting the Scottish couple half way through they said they thought the police were reluctant to report crimes so as not to tarnish the image of the tourist driven town.
I started getting exacerbated when the office would not give me his full name but fortunately his partner, the younger and much more seemingly together Inspector Roger Cjuiro took over. Roger had much better English which was a relief and took over, asking me in to an office next door. I didnīt follow what went on exactly but Roger and a secretary started talking heatedly about what I thought was writing up my notes which were taken by the other officer. Things escalated quickly, passionately, as I noticed they seemed to repeatedly on the South American soap opera I was half watching over brunch with Dan and Youngy the previous day in Puno, pre Floating Islands (which were very nice and very interesting by the way but which I will say no more about as the only photos I donīt have a back up of were from there!).
Ahem. Yes. I thought this rowing was only on TV, but seemingly it is like this in real life as Roger and his associate rowed like man and wife. As I was shown back to the original office I spoke to guy from massachusets who had also had his stuff stolen and having been to the police a couple of times now about it and being fluent in Spansih told me about a local market our stuff was likely to appear at this Saturday. Kindly he took details of my stuff in case he saw it looking for his which I was greatful for for the small ray of hope it provided.
Next up I was suprised as I was asked to go to the bus station for further investigation. Not surprised that I was asked, more surprised that Roger did not have a car and asked if I wanted to get a taxi or minded walking! In the heat of the day, tired and emotional I walked to bus station and realised how beautiful Cusco is, with his rolling billous hills, large symbols and writing on the hillsides and big statues of Incan leaders. Roger upon asking, proceeded to explain a bit of history and suddenly I felt more like a privelaged tourist rather than a victim in the middle of a crime investication!
At the bus terminal office of Power Buses there was lots of questioning of the office staff by Roger until a stalemate was reached and both sides of the counter reached for their mobile phones. At this stage I had to split for a sandwhich and a packet of Doritos as I hadnīt had any breakfast, but was surprised and laughing a little in amazement when I came back and found Roger on a landline chasing things up, only to finish his call and ask me if I had a mobile phone with any credit! What kind of resources do these Peruvian police have!!!??? On returning to the counter Roger had to deal with a local who was getting pissed off about Roger now pushing in, things were going from bad to worse. After getting a list of suspects from the seating plan we went to bus depot with a view to finding the bus, only to be told bus had left. This I believe was Rogers main goal and he had said as much at the station, but I knew that if I tried to tell him I'd seen the bus leaving straight away he wouldn't have belived me so just went along with him seeing through his investigation.
In order to get the information he desired from the owner of the bus company (his name) Roger had to get the station police to accompany him this time. The reluctance with which the owner co-operated was explained away by Roger on our return to the station as being because the bag was not held in storage and therefore not their responsability, but the way they treated him made me suspcious they werenīt robbing their own customers themselves!
I shared some Doritos with Roger on the way back to the station as we saw a man passed out in the street and he told me about the social problems with alcoholics in South America, only to go into further detail about his drunk partner who had been into rehab and come back out ok only to fall off the wagon again very quickly. Apparently a nightmare to work with. I wondered if this was the man of my first encounter... I think it was! Amazing... the whole experience was a total sham but I grew to like Roger over the hour or two I got to know him, his youth and professionalism perhaps being the stereotypical young cop you see in the movies, un-jaded by a life on the beat.
So - I write from an internet cafe where I have had my back up of my photos backed up after a trip to a VERY busy bank to get my tax paid for the police report I need to claim on my insurance. What a pain in the arse, what a FARCE, but then again, as I thought as I was walking back to the station with Roger, itīs all good material for the blog, and that counts for a lot for me really when travelling! ;)