Friday, April 30, 2010

Robbery, Power Surge and a Hairline fracture

Soooooooo as many of you know my luck has been somewhat, well.... bad as of late, but somehow I still seem to be enjoying myself. I hadn't wanted to update my blog for a while because I didn't want it to be full of bad news, which would make most people assume I am unhappy in Paraguay, which is far from the truth and for that reason I didn't want to litter my blog with sob stories... So I'm going to write one blog entry summarizing my bad luck the last couple months and then it will be promptly followed by a very happy blog entry (that is already written on paper and just needs to be digitized).

I had been planning a trip to Brazil with my friend Courtney (meeting up with my friend Holger and his girlfriend) for a while now and I had packed my bags and headed to Asuncion around 3pm on a Saturday (after the rain stopped) arriving in Asuncion at 5pm. Once we got close to the hotel I pulled the cord so the bus driver would let me off and he passed my stop by two blocks, which was slightly annoying because I had a lot of stuff but whatever, I just got off the bus. It was pretty deserted because it was a Saturday in downtown and nothing is open and no one is working. I walked a block and half without any problems, and a half a block before I had to turn the corner to the hotel a younger boy, I guessed was about 14 or 15 years-old came around the corner, about my height with tan skin and died-blonde curls and walking towards me with a mission, I started to look around me for other people and when I didn't see anyone… no one at all, I crossed the street to avoid walking close to him but of course the boy crossed the street too and I couldn't run with a huge backpack on my back and an ankle that doesn't really work anyways… As he got closer, I realized he was pushing on his belt area and below his white shirt you could see what appeared to be a gun. At that point, I was going to give him everything I had because I wasn’t going to mess with the kid, even though he was only a kid. Before he got too close to me I asked him what he wanted and he said my smaller bag (of course the bag that had everything important in it) so I gave it to him. And he ran off toward to the river and the area called Chakaritas, which is a kind of Paraguayan slum with houses made out of mostly cardboard and plastics trash.

At that point, I was thinking, oh well, take my stuff, I don’t need it…. But as I got closer to the hotel I realized, I probably wouldn’t be able to take my trip to Brazil without that stuff and I really do need it!! Stolen stuff included: camera with extra camera battery and memory cards, ipod, cell phone, 2 million guaranies (450 dollars), my personal and official passports with a 250 dollar visa to Brazil that I had bought 8 days before and had never used, my plane tickets, bus tickets, credit cards, Paraguayan ID, American drivers license… basically everything necessary to leave one country and enter another country. I was in denial that this little boy had effectively ruined my trip and on Monday as early as I could I went to the American embassy to see what they could do for me, but they confirmed the worst. They could only issue me an emergency passport to go back to the United States and they wouldn’t issue me an emergency passport to take a vacation in Brazil. I would have to wait the 10 business days to get my passport, and after the 10 days I would have to get my Paraguayan visa ( a probable 20 days) to be able to get back into the country and then my Brazilian visa (at least 3 days in Asuncion) to enter Brazil… So the trip, for me at least, had to be indefinitely suspended.

So, you may ask, what happened to the boy? Well, he was found by the cops robbing another lady and they called the Peace Corps director to take me the police station to “identify” him… When we got there, the boy was lying on the floor passed out from drugs. I told them I believe that is the boy, but it’s hard to tell because I can’t see his face that well or his height or hear his voice… but from what I can see of his face pressed against the tile floor, it looked like the kid. They proceeded to explain to me that because he was under age there isn’t much they can do because he didn’t have anything on him when he was arrested and they can only hold him for three days, which to me sounded like, ‘we already took everything of value from the kid and we don’t plan on giving it to you because you are a rich American….’ But I have nothing to prove my theory.

I decided to take a mini-vacation in my house, which included very little cleaning and a lot of movies, until one day there was a lot of heavy wind and all of a sudden my power went out and there was a weird smell all over my house… When the power came back on I realized that everything that was turned on when the power went out burned… including 3 fluorescent lights, a light bulb and my computer charger. The most tragic, of course, being my charger for my Mac computer, which in Paraguay costs 120 dollars to replace and about two months of waiting for it to be in stock.

A month later things are starting to come back together… I have both my new passports, Paraguayan ID as well as my Paraguayan visa in the process of being made …. New phone and finally got a new charger for my computer and I’m feeling like things are falling back into place when, I was running a little late for a meeting and as I was leaving my house I thought I forgot my phone on the table and I ran back in the dark house to get it and on my way out I kicked the small table in front of my couch and it hurt a lot…. I ended up getting on my bike anyways and going to the meeting, thinking that I had a broken toe that I would deal with later. I got to my meeting and it was really hurting but it had only swollen a little bit and that night was one of my “host-mom”’s birthdays so I just went to her house to celebrate… The next day I had a really important meeting with the mayor first thing in the morning so I decided I would go to the meeting and then go to the hospital to get my foot checked out. I went to see the mayor, which was a disaster to be explained in a entry about work, and then went on my bike straight to the hospital. The x-ray showed that I didn’t have a broken toe, but a hairline fracture of my foot. They put a half cast on my foot and called me crazy for having come on my bike to the hospital and that I would have to find another way home because I couldn’t walk on my cast for 2 hours until it dried completely. A friend of my host-family, Hugo, picked me up and took me to my house and the next day I took a bus into Asuncion (not fun) to see the Peace Corps doctor and they gave me a walking boot, which makes it a little bit easier to walk. In total, I have to wear the boot for about 3 weeks and I have 10 days left so I hope it feels better in 10 days because it still hurts me if I step on it wrong!

So I have had an eventful last couple months, but fortunately nothing is too serious…. I lost some valuables, but they were luxuries…I hurt my foot, but I can walk without requiring surgery… I am a little bit poorer after all this, but I’m still one of the richest people in the world. So no biggy, right?