It is difficult to know where to start when this blog has been quiet for a couple weeks – It seems like so much happens in such a short period of time here . . . I guess that I will start with the story about why I’ve been so quiet for the last couple weeks. You see, I normally write my blog entries on my laptop, then upload them at an internet café . . .
On one of the last nights of Ramadan M and I decided to go down to Ramallah to meet up with some friends for post-Iftar tea. Ironically, I had not been feeling well earlier in the day and had almost decided not go, but since everyone was heading in different directions for the Eid, I decided to go anyway. Just after climbing out of our service in Ramallah, feeling slightly seasick fom the careening ride down the mountain, I looked at M and said, “I forgot my passport,” to which she replied, “Me too”. Now, I never, ever leave home without my passport, but we were already in Ramallah and late to boot, so we dwell on it.
After from tea with na’na (mint) we returned to our little apartment in Birzeit. As we were walking down the stairs to our apartment I commented that I had forgotten to bring my laundry in from the line. M said, “Well, at least you know that it is safe in Birzeit to leave it out all night,” HAA.
We walked into the apartment and I noticed one of the windows in our living room was open. Then I noticed that the screen on the window was ripped. The look of horror on M’s face was almost comical as we realized that our apartment had been broken into. The harami (thief – my new word for the week BTW) must have hit M’s room first because everything of value was gone – her birdwatching binoculars, her backpack with her passport, money, plane tickets home, credit cards, address book with all the important information that she needed, etc . . . They even took her cell phone charger. I assume they hit my room second, saw the laptop on the table and figured they hit the jackpot. They got my laptop and *sob* my iPod.
Luckily, they didn’t go through my room they way they did M’s or they would have gotten both of my passports, some cash, and my laptop case (which is where copies of most of word files, my USB memory, and my digital camera were). So, is when the fiasco began . . .
First, we tried to wake up our landlord, a very kind, very deaf man and his wife who live directly above us. After repeated banging and doorbell ringing, we abandoned that idea. Next we decided to call the police. Of course we didn’t know how to contact the police, or what our address was . . . so I called a Palestinian – Canadian friend whose family is here and asked him to help me figure out the phone number etc . . . Then I called a male friend who lived nearby because I knew that I did not want to deal with the local police at midnight without having a male figure with me.
Within 15 minutes our apartment was swarming with local police. We had about 5 officers, and then some random people who I think might have just been friends of the cops who decided to come and stare at the stupid foreign girls who had been robbed. We were asked questions like: What were we doing out so late? Who were we with? Why hadn’t we locked all of the interior doors in the apartment? (because we didn’t have a key). The police officers who came to help spent more time examining my underwear on the laundry line than they did the window that the thief had broken in through.
After a great deal of discussion, they decided we should all head back to the police station to give a report. They had 7 people pile into a little four door car and drive the three blocks to the police station. They sat us down, gave us tea, and proceeded to ask us the same questions they had asked us in our apartment about 4 more times. Admittedly the language barrier was a bit of a problem, but I did okay and Mat’s Arabic is as good as mine, so we were managing. While we sat there, the policeman who hadn’t already been to our apartment took turn standing in the doorway of the office we were sitting in, staring at M and I. After about 2 hours, they let us go. M and I spent the next hour and half canceling her credit cards etc . . . Luckily the thieves didn’t find the place where she had hidden her cc cancel info or her photocopy of her passport . . . As far as my losses go, I lost all the research that I had done for my thesis to date, and the 300 some pictures that I had taken during my time here. And, of course, the iPod.
The second day of ISM training was scheduled for the following morning. Unforunately after dealing with the Birzeit Police (which may have been more traumatic than being robbed) and canceling all of M’s info I wasn’t feeling up to another 11 hour day of training on about 2.5 hours of sleep. Never mind that I was leaving for Beirut within 24 hours . . .