Robbed and sad - but I won't give up




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Copiapó 13.07.02
15.10. I'm sitting in the police station. Right front pannier, the rucksack and the sleeping matress was gone when I stepped down from the internet café. Shit. And I, who have been boasting their honesty here. The idiot in the office had promised to look after my bike, which had been dragged into the staircase. Thank you very much!
What to do? In spanish? I asked people passing by if they knew a little english? One man did. Followed me here and helped explaning the situation. And translate what was in the bags. It could have been worse.
Tools, dictionary and water containers seem to be the worst, cause tools for the rear gear and spokes had been moved to the other front pannier. And the unbraco tool was in the handlebar bag. But my SLEEPING MATRESS!!

18.50 I'm sitting in my recidencial grumbling. It was an experience after all. The officer that I was handed over to was young and spoke NO english. But we had had most translated already, so I succeeded getting a paper with a stamp as evidence of the theft. The only thing I've discovered missing since then is the battery charger and 4 batteries which unfortunately had been moved to the stolen bag. (I have a plan telling how all items were placed from the start - thank God). Had to help the officer with the spelling... in spanish! When I later asked for a residencial, he insisted on bringing me there, even it was only 200 m's down the street, but I had to wait a while. The reason was he wanted to fetch his cap! He reminded me of a sergent, when I did military duty. I was feeling sorry for both of them. But let me resume: a pannier (it's going to be hard riding with just one!),
among the tools my lovely cutting nippers from grand mother and extra brake blocks. I don't think any vital tool is missing. Those I use regularly were somewhere else. But chain divider, adjustable spanner, unbraco tools .... I'm trying to remember what I had. The exact plan was in the rucksack, which is gone, but...
I've sent it to myself as an e-mail for occasions like this, so I can get it in the morning. But more: water containers, first aid kit, suncream, pills for malaria, water cleaning tablets, map of Bolivia and Argentine, a bag of the kind you wear around your waist (and which I bought in southern France once - sigh!), the nice small black blouse which Jon gave me last Christmas, trousers for runnning, long cycling trousers, towel, my beloved Ventour cycling jacket, 10 m's of thick line, tape, my newly bought gas cooker (I have the extra container still), the rucksack, mug, Lonely Planet Chile, dictionary, sleeping matress + different kind of food - and toiletpaper, which I hope they'll all choke in.
This is a city. The room costs almost like last time but without shower and toilet. But then there is a TV. I'm going to watch TV and take comfort in Santa Rita 120, she's got 3 medals.

Copiapó 14.07.02 12.19 km
It's sunday morning, 9 o'clock. The city is deserted. Totally clouded. Had the idea this night, to do an advertisment of loss. Posters to put up. Reward. The police is no good. Where are they? But I'll need an english speaking person to help me. Go for a walk to find suitable items. Education can often be seen.
I find a young man that speaks a little. Explain my plan in english/spanish. He understands but suggest that a newspaper will do better. Tells me how to find it.
Find it. Closed today. Here it's not 'periodico' but 'diario' like diary. It's a local paper for this area I see. This possibility is turned down for the moment. Maybe I'll stay a couple of days? Passed a church before. Looked inside - the mess was going on. Now it's finished. People on their way out. Two well dressed gentlemen stand talking,
and I ask them if anybody here speaks english? No, that's not nescesary is the answer. And they're perfectly right. What am I doing here speaking so little spanish?
Now at 9.45 a.m. the sun is spreading the clouds. Everybody wants to talk, but noone speaks english. I have a longer conversation with a man who's waiting for a taxi (they have special routes like busses I find out). He plays 'pelota', a game, which I believe is special for spanish speaking countries. I get the idea that the big hotel where I never would try to stay must be able to help me. They listen to me gladly here too, and yes - the manager comes at lunch time - he should be able to help me with the text for my poster. We'll see.

The volunteer fire brigade parade Has it really been abroad?


13.30 Now the advertisment with offer of reward ( the manager didn't think it wise to put on any amount - he's probably right) and a picture of the disappeared pannier (what should I do without a digital camera?) put up outside the internet café. I only miss to find out if I can get it in the paper for less than a fortune. They had closed earlier,
but is it published daily, and it should be, they'll have to edit the one for tomorrow sometime. I'm now sitting in the 'plaza' in the shadows and watch the towns volunteer? firebrigade march to the tune 'Lily Marleen'. One apparently loves parades here. It's at least the third time I see one. Now come the specialists with tools, saws etc. to cut open cars. And now come the aspirants, the youngest must be around 7! A single ambulance sounds its horn from time to time and two fire engines end the show.
The hotel manager was not THAT good at english, but he did understand the meaning and turned it into a style they use here and made it shorter in case it will be acccepted at the paper.
Here comes a rescue car, it wasn't over yet. And now an army of fire engines, what would they do if a fire broke out just now? Then trucks with water tanks, not for drinking it says at the side. And at last the clou: a car with a steam pump from 1800 something. Beautiful shining one. And that was that. The feast is dissolved in a moment.

2.05 p.m. Have been to the paper. It still looked closed, but luckily a man was trying to knock them open. Was just let in through a door. It wasn't closed entirely. Reached it iin three jumps and pushed it open and with my new paper in my hand it was a bit easier to make the case clear. As I'd been hoping. They would do an article about it in the morningday paper. I was photographed together with the picture of the stolen pannier. All for free. Relief. Relaxation. Now I feel at peace. I've done what I could and now I only have to wait and hope. Don't expect any result, but who knows? Have to plan for the coming trip. Have to stay for a couple of days, at least tomorrow. In case of a negative result I'll buy some lousy panniers I've already found. Find out how to fasten them so they won't come off. Buy a lousy matress and I've also found a new gas cooker - again. I have already bought a cheap rucksack.
Have gone to have lunch. I hear someone sounding like Don McLean, singing 'It don't matter to me', wonderful tune. The waiter don't know who's singing, but a customer thinks it's George Michael. Got to listen to him sometime. I miss music I'd like to listen to. Here's music all over at every time. I've read that the bolivians should be very noisy. Thought it couldn't be worse - it sure can. In the supermarket I had to stand still to listen to someone, I don't know who, who sang: 'Sing it you're the pianoman', just as my mood, sentimental.
This place is reminds a bit of a burger bar. Modern. Here come fathers with their children. Suddenly a boy waves at me from another table. I wave back. Where did I see him? Must be the one that helped me with the printing of my photo this morning. I'm getting known in town. Just wait till tomorrow!
Last night I found a typical cheap chilean restaurant. Had a 3-dishes menu + beer for 2.100. The primer was 'cazuela', a soup, but with a big potatoe and a big lump of meat. Can be seen in different versions. Then followed the main course, I chose fish and rice. In the end a 'postre', some kind of rice pudding with a sauce of karamel. Just the thing for a guy with a sweet tooth. I could barely eat it all. Now I'm served a half a meter burger with some dishy meat and tomatoes, beans and some special chilean peppers.
Another funural. First comes a white hearse decorated with flowers. Behind 40-50 walking people. Looking composed. Then a line of cars, but not as many as last time. Some are playing chess here in the plaza. The lovers are sitting on the bench in front. This morning someone was washing in the fountain. Here are a number of homeless people or travellers or both. Some sleeping in their blankets outside the church this morning. And several backpackers. Some ordinary ones, others of the unsoigned type which too are homeless or on eternal walk. I passed one walking up one of the passes the other day. With a water container in his hand. Just a few sticky beggars - in La Serena f.ex.  They turn up with their little crying children, but end up buying cigarettes for the money. This morning a man asked for some coins to get breakfast. I'm hungry too, I said - in spanish. We laughed both a bit.