Monday, November 9, 2009

Paestum--Highway Robbery

By Chuck and Claire
It was pouring rain when we left Pompeii. We decided to go to Paestum anyway; after all, we have our rain gear.

How smug we are.

First thing we did was get lost, as usual. Wandering down a path the non-English speaking guy at the restaurant sent us on, or so we thought, we ran into these guys. Kinda cute. I think they are served on the menu.

We drove around for awhile, circling the entire archeological site until we found a good spot to park on the side of the road.

It rained and poured off and on as we toured this incredible sight with some of the most impressive Roman and Greek Temples.

Athena, with Claire

Apollo, with Chuck

2,000 year old floor

Neighborhood and street

Chuck hangin' at the military gymnasium

We went to the museum, absolutely drenched by this time and gingerly walked into the marble interior. By now we were tired and hungry so we made it a rather quick visit then headed back to Homer.

The robbery happened while we were off enjoying ourselves. Chuck struggled to get the key to work in the side door then suddenly announced that someone had broken in. We rushed in to survey the damage, trying to take it all in at once. All the cupboard doors were open. Claire took the time to remove her very wet jacket and shoes then climbed up to where she stores her computer. It was still there! Chuck quickly checked his and it was there too! We looked for everything we could think of that had value to us. Susanna was there as well! We couldn’t believe it. The iPod speakers were sitting up in the cupboard but the iPod was gone. But then we remembered we had put it with the ear buds in a zip lock bag for our walking tours. And there it was, in one of our plastic container boxes on the next shelf. Hmmmm. In the meantime, we found that the security strap had been cut in the front seat and they had most likely exited out the front door. That’s when we discovered Claire's purse was missing. Damn! Her beloved, perfect, travel purse; with the back-up camera battery! Then we realized the backpacks were gone too. That meant Chuck’s camera, his locking, folding bread and cheese cutting knife and both our binoculars; there were other miscellaneous items, but we cannot detail them, yet. It’s funny how it takes time to take it all in when you’ve been violated. We were so grateful they hadn’t done any real damage, although we will have to get all new locks. The front passenger door lock is broken, as is the side door which was most likely pried open with a crow bar. Claire had about €150 cash in her purse along with the discount cards for campgrounds, a real loss (the cards, not the cash). The more we looked the more we were grateful; and then we realized both external hard drives were gone. We also lost our notebook listing all our expenses for the trip and the weather, along with other miscellaneous notes. And all our movies that we planned to watch in Turkey and Greece when we had some real down time. But you have to be grateful when that’s all that was taken. Our Kindles and chargers were not touched! We are also so glad we were wearing our moneybelts with our passports and credit cards.

(Claire)Why I was so cavalier about leaving my purse, even though it was hidden behind the driver’s seat, I’ll never know. I guess I thought if we can survive crime-ridden Naples, nothing much can happen. Ironic, isn’t it?

(Chuck) I walked down to the bar, half a block away to ask where the police were located. We decided to report it, just in case. But, the patron outside the bar get very excited when I asked “Dove Policia, Carbinieri?” I am sure I filtered my understanding through my southern Italy conceptions; but, he seemed incredulous that someone would want to contact the police. He spoke no English and I speak no Italian; he referred me inside the bar. The group of very large intimidating men paid me no mind; so, I waited for the counter clerk to look up and asked her the same question. She scarcely skipped a beat after repeating the question to be sure she understood and pointed down the road, indicating – with hand gestures and Italian – a rotary and that the policia would be on the other side. I thanked her and drove off to find the Policia Stazione. We found it; but, it was closed on weekends. I took down the contact information and decided to contact them later.

After that, we took off on our planned drive part way to Sicily. It’s amazing how easily an incident like this can really give you a jaundiced view of things. We were anxious to leave the area and hope it won’t affect our feelings about it. I understand unemployment is at 30%.

I (Chuck) think that as the trauma of the violation of our space and property wears down, aggravation over the inconvenience, time and expense to replace needed stuff and repairing Homer will replace it. This process, unfortunately, is not over.

(Claire) We were both pretty down on the ride and are now presently parked in a gas station/rest top/auto grill/truckstop for the night. Susanna led us astray from the GPS coordinates I had programmed in to get us to a camperstop with full service but basic surroundings and other people – we would like a little extra security, tonight. We followed her instructions until we were sure we’d been had: there was no camping area in the middle of the tunnel where Susanna announced, “You have reached your destination.” We’re slightly nervous but we have nowhere else to go at the moment.

I didn’t sleep too well last night and had nightmares, including one where Chuck and I had decided to come home and we were in our living room when I suddenly realized our tenants were too! It was very strange but quite telling if you exam it closely.

I also kept thinking of the little things I had lost like the tiny, easy to carry mittens, the pair I had lost one of and then just discovered last week. There we were, laughing and cheering about that silly, found mitten which I immediately balled up like a small sock and put in my purse. And now they’re gone! There is something so personal about another person violating your space and taking your things, no matter how valuable they are. I’ve lost my sense of trust in the world; temporarily, I hope. My carelessness in leaving my purse, even hidden and out of sight behind the seat, just shows how relaxed I was, or is it just stupid?

But it’s also stupid to be attached to things that are all replaceable. I’m more grateful than ever that we are able to let this go. The odd thing is that this was far worse than the situation with the transmission which just goes to show, it isn’t about money. This was disturbing; that was impersonal.

So, we set some booby traps for any possible intruders last night. First, we took the sopping wet mat we use to wipe our feet and placed it where the intruder would slip, cracking his teeth on the door step and waking us up. While we would be scrambling to get out of bed, the laundry box, placed as a barrier and now released, would further cause the intruder to lose his footing, only recently regained. Now cracking his knee on the same step, the pantry door would release, slamming into his face, possibly breaking his nose. But no worries, if that door didn’t get him, surely the now swinging bathroom door would. I have a feeling the guy would be flailing around, arms pinwheeling, before we could even get out of bed. There. That’s out of my system. I am determined to shake this off.

We are now in sunny Sicily, our campsite overlooking the Ionian sea, and we can hear the waves slapping against the lava rock beach. It is quite lush in Sicily with lots of orange and lemon trees and groves of olive trees everywhere. The hills are alive here with multiple terraces of various crops along with palm trees and cactus. We are slowly relaxing.

First sighting of Sicily while waiting for our ferry to arrive

Surprising Sicily

Our campsite lava rock beach after a surprise hail storm that lasted about 3 minutes

Sunshine again, and another campground cat!


The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one. ~ Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)


Toni said...

Highway robbery -- awful. I'm so sorry. But you're getting through it well if Claire's description of stopping the invader, starting with a slippery mat is an indication of your two states of mind!

Tony's and my VW van was broken into almost 40 years ago while we were traveling across Canada (yes, avoiding the draft). Our son was about a year old. They took a lot of things worth money, but what bothered me the most was that they took a pair of his baby pants. That was the worst violation for me. I can tell you know just how I felt.

Hang in there. The memory will fade.


Chuck and Claire said...

Your experience sounds terrible too. I would be haunted by the idea of an intruder even touching my child's baby pants. It really takes away your sense of security. Thanks for reminding me that the memory will fade.

Holly said...

Hi Claire and Chuck,

I am really sorry to hear this happened and can certainly understand the violation you feel right now, even though it could have been worse (or MUCH worse). Remember when my beloved little cottage in Aggie Village was broken into and I called you guys at 10 pm knowing full well you'd be asleep but I needed some comfort and a safe-feeling place to stay the night? Nothing of real value was taken but just knowing someone had broken in and roamed around un-welcomed and rummaged through my things was so disturbing. Yes, you will have some hassles replacing your stuff and dealing with the aftermath, but the feelings of violation will hopefully fade quickly and in time will barely be a blip on the radar screen of your memory. I loved your thoughts about foiling the next highway robbers! You're almost there. Sending comforting thoughts YOUR way this time.

Much love and safe travels.


Diane said...

Revenge fantasies are cathartic! Yours is priceless and the intruder would surely learn his lesson. This incident will throw you off for a while and then there will be more kindness along the way that will restore your faith. You are right about it not being about the items and the $, but rather the disappointment in our fellow human beings. Bummer about your perfect bag Claire--do you want me to order another one from Zappos for when you return?
xo Diane

Paul King said...

Hi Claire and Chuck,

I'll just state briefly that I love reading the blog and am thrilled when new entries hit my iPhone. I really feel all the adventure and wonder you both convey in the writing.

My heart broke hearing if this horrible incident.
Somehow you both possess an indomitable spirit and I know things will get better.

I have been in similar situations (and worse! No fun)

Talk it out. Purge it the best you can. It was a freak thing. Sounds like you are onward full sail. Bravo.

Watching Rick Steves on PBS!
I watch it but you both are living it.
Double Bravo.

My best to you.
Paul Seif

Chuck and Claire said...

I certainly do remember your break in. We thought about all the people we know who have experienced this. What a shitty world we live in sometimes! And yes, it's the idea of some stranger lurking in your space, touching your things and TAKING your things. We will move through this but it is hard. Right now, I'm looking at the sunshine on the Ionian Sea out the camper window. It's a gorgeous day in Sicily.

Thanks for your good thoughts.

Chuck and Claire said...

Thanks for your advice to talk it out and purge this experience. We are trying our best although silence has been hanging around here with both of us deep into our own thoughts and disappointment. Today is already better. Glad to hear you're enjoying the blog Paul.