Robbery

So this wasn’t the best weekend I’ve had in Liberia. Friday was Prayer and Fasting day in Liberia which is a national holiday. In light of this, Michael and I went surfing at Silver beach Friday morning. Silver beach is the “surfing beach”. We had been introduced to it by our other surfing buddies. We had gone there a few other times and never had any problems. Two other guys met us out there, Kevin and Keith. They left at 9:30am or so. Michael and I got out of the water around 10:00am. When we got to the 4Runner we saw glass on the sand. Someone had thrown a rock through the rear windshield and stolen Michael’s and my bags.

This was a bit of a bummer. We asked around the beach, but of course, no one saw anything. I had brought my backpack along that I keep most of my things in. Resources here are pretty limited so I usually keep everything I need in one bag and just take that everywhere. It’s very convenient, but doesn’t work so hot when someone steals your bag. Thankfully my phone and my eye glasses weren’t in my bag. I was wearing my glasses and had my phone with me when I was driving. They never checked the center console where the phone was. Thanks God. But I did lose my digital camera, two pocket knives, my polarized sunglasses, my head lamp, my wallet with all my ID, (but not my passport) and $150USD, and all my surfing gear. Michael also lost a lot of important things, including his phone.

Thankfully a few days before I had decided that I should have a cash stash at home, just in case I really needed money in a hurry. So that worked out really well. Since Friday was a holiday the banks were all closed.

I was told that the place I had parked on the beach wasn’t very good because the car was in front of a fence that hid it from the main road. I thought it was a good idea to park there because it was closer to me. Not that I could have just hoped out of the water and stopped these guys. It was also stupid for us to just leave two bags in the back of the car, and have all our stuff in two bags. Live and learn. When I go surfing in the states I just take my keys, driver’s license and visa. I should have done that here.

On the upside the surfing was really good. Both Michael and I caught a few good waves. I noticed that my stamina is increasing. I’m able to paddle a lot more without getting super tired. Now I just get really tired. Also, my right shoulder, which I had an operation on because I dislocated it a lot in high school, didn’t bother me as much. I think it’s getting stronger.

Saturday Michael and I went shopping to replace our lost stuff. I bought two new backpacks. One to take to the beach, and one to take to work. I so miss my sweet Osprey Stratos 24 liter backpack. It was awesome. It’s probably the thing I’m most bummed about getting stolen. It was bright yellow so I’m hoping I’ll see some kid walking down the street with it, and I can buy it off of him. I’m not holding my breath. For $15 I bought two cheap Chinese made backpacks. I’m just waiting for the zippers to split open and the seems to come undone.

The thieves stole Michael’s phone. We called the number and they answered. The guy who answered told us he just had been given the SIM card by someone and he didn’t take any of our things. Yeah right. We’ll we told him we’d like to give him a reward for the SIM card because we wanted the numbers on the SIM card. We made it very clear that we weren’t looking to get anyone in trouble, we just cared about the phone numbers. He told us to meet him at a market Saturday at 9:00am. We showed up, he didn’t. It would have been cool had we retrieved the SIM card.

I’m also bummed about the camera being stolen. I fear this will make the blog far less interesting. For those of you who like pictures, I’m sorry.

I was able to get the rear windshield replaced on Saturday. I was really impressed that they got it done in less than 6 hours. Not half bad.

I reported the incident to the police department by the beach. That was an experience. It’s this little building made of concrete blocks with no power. There were 6 police officers hanging around. At the back of the station was a holding cell with a re-bar door over the opening. The gentlemen in the cell were in the back of the cell out of site. But they made quite a racket. It was pretty intense.

I told them I wanted to file a report and they pulled out a notebook and wrote out all that I told them. They were all pretty nice. I asked for a copy of the police report for Michael to give to his company since the SIM card that was stolen was there’s and they were like, “You have to go the main station for that.”

Not to be deterred from surfing, Michael and I went back to the beach Sunday morning. We took Michael’s car and driver to the beach. Michael brought his stuff in a plastic grocery bag. I brought my $5 backpack that I had bought the day before. As soon as we turned down the road to get to the beach we saw two police officers on patrol. I guess my time at the police station paid off.

Once again we had a great day of surfing. We both caught some good waves, and we had a good work out. But, when I got out of the water I found a two inch hole in the bottom of my board. I think it happened when a wave picked me up and dropped me on my board. I put my foot down to try and land on the board, and I remember it feeling soft when I landed. Not that I really landed, more just hit the board on my way down. The hole fits my heal perfectly so I’m pretty sure that where it came from. Anyway it’s fixable, but keeps me out of the water for the next few days to give the board time to dry and to apply a patch job.

So not the best weekend ever, but it was still not half bad. It could have been a lot worse. I’ve had stuff stolen from my back yard in Atlanta, and I didn’t come to Liberia to be safe and secure. I still had a fun weekend, and God blessed me with a positive outlook on the whole thing. I don’t feel bitter towards Liberia and life is a little simpler now. I mean I no longer have to debate with myself whether I want to take my camera when I go places. I know I’ll miss the camera when I want to take a picture of stuff, but I never felt down this weekend. So thank God for that.

In other news, the amputee guys that I gave $50 to for a t-shirt and their rent did give me a hand written receipt. I was kind of hoping for something a little more official, but this is consistent with the environment. I asked for the phone number of the landlord and they gave me that. I called him, and I had a really hard time understanding him. I could understand that the guys lived at his place, and that he charges 600LD ($5USD) a month. But I couldn’t get a clear answer as to whether they put down $50 for the next year. I guess I’ll know in a month or two if they still live in the same place.

Tony, the head of the amputee guys also gave me a letter requesting a loan of $40. He wants to add this to his savings of $40 and buy umbrellas to sell in the rainy season. I like the idea, but I think this is a violation of our agreement that he wouldn’t ask me for money any more. Since I just lost $150 the Etherton micro-bank is out of commission for a while so this gives me time to reflect more on this business proposal.

John
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