Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Monday afternoon found me sitting in the lobby of the local police station, clutching an empty Playstation 2 box to my chest, rocking back and forth as I watched a torrential rain pound down. If there had been anyone around, maybe they would have thought I was mildly autistic, but more probably they would have pegged me as just plain strange, but I'm used to that.

In truth, I was just tired, discouraged, miserable, angry and somewhat bored.
The latter problem was caused by the fact that I, who always brag about going everywhere in Burkina with a good book (so that long waits just fly by), had forgotten my book of the day back at the car and no way was I going out in a rain that had a real "firehose on full-blast" quality to it.
Luckily, though I didn't have a book, there were the chickens. Apparently, just as a firehouse in the USA might have a Dalmatian dog mascot, a police station in Burkina has a flock of mascot chickens. And strangely enough, the rain didn't send them all running for cover. A few of them were out in the downpour (dare I say it?) frolicking. Back in the USA, we have the expression "as mad as a wet hen". May I suggest a collorary to that: "as happy as a wet Burkinabé rooster".

Now you probably want to know why I was sitting at the police station, staring at chickens, being severely depressed. The answer lies in the empty PS2 box... and in my missing ipod, cellphone, dvd player, cell phone, digital camera, computer, etc.
I was at the station to give a statement to the police about the robbery at our house early Saturday morning.

I actually slept in a bit late on Saturday. I wandered out into the livingroom at about 8am (VERY late for me!), feeling ready to tackle the preparations for the big party that would be taking place that night. I noticed that my USB stick was missing off the bookshelf where I'd left it. I figured that maybe JP had taken it and went on into my office. No computer. I went to go ask Valentine about it, as she sometimes uses it in her room. That was when I saw my phone was gone.
Then I really started to realize that something was very wrong. The main clue (duh!) was the slashed mosquito screen and bent security bars of the living room window. We had been robbed, big time.
To say I was freaked would be to but it mildly. I've had things stolen before. Heck, I've already has two cellphones stolen while I've been here in Africa. But I'd never had housebreakers and the thought that strange men had possibly been in my children's bedrooms was giving me a severe, sick-making case of the creeps/willies/heebie-jeebies. The fact that Tya's ipod was still in place in her room reassured me that they probably had stayed away from her bedroom. But all my cash was gone from my purse that hung in the back hallway, just opposite the twins' bedroom door. Not a happy thought.

I didn't cry at all until I was in the car heading to the police station. And then it was just a little- mainly for Tya's school pictures. The few she had now really were lost for good, along with lots of other irreplaceable photos of our life here.
At the police station compound, the officer at the reception desk in the tiny cement-brick hut at the entrance took down a list of what was stolen and told me to come back on Monday.
Didn't they want to, like- I don't know....investigate? Find clues?

I went on to the National Gendarmerie. I don't know what the heck they are in English. They are kind of like the police, but more of a military operation.
There I was pretty quickly ushered into the office of the head officer. This guy did come out to the house right away. He looked around a bit and had his assistant take a few photos.

And that was it, until Monday. That afternoon, I showed up once again at the police station. I brought along the big, bright blue Playstation box so someone could help me figure out which of the 20 different codes written on the box was the actual ID number of the machine.
Then, it started to rain, hard. I waited for about an hour and the officer I was supposed to see never showed up. Finally, I found a kind officer that was willing to phone him and set up another meeting for the next day. I hoped that it wouldn't rain again on Tuesday.

So, yesterday at 3pm I was back at the police station for a third time. My friends the chickens were running around like mad between the buildings, but I noticed that none of them ever ran out into the road through the wide-open gate. I guess they are living the good life in there and have no reason to wander. While Burkinabé cops don't eat doughnuts, maybe they toss their chickens the odd bit of leftover lunchtime tô or rice...

And what happened next? What's going on now? Well, I guess I'll have to come back and finish this sorry story tomorrow. My time here at the internet café is about up and I need to get home and pack for the move on Saturday.

Thanks to all my dear friends and loveable family (hi mom!) for your comments on the goat wedding post. I was SO happy to see all the messages from you-it made me teary (in that happy, really-touched kind of way) .
I, of course, had many, many adorable pictures of Yann and Dawn's wedding, but some creepy thief is probably erasing them all right now.


Samantha said...

Oh dear, like you needed any more stress right now!!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry! It is very creepy and very infuriating indeed -- first the act, and now the frustration now of dealing with it. And the morning of your party? Awful. What a strange twist in the plot, no? So sorry. - mlw

somebird said...

oh beth! i'm so sorry to hear this, that is truly terrible and enraging. i hope that this doesn't completely spoil your last days in burkina.
we're thinking of you!