Well it happened. Our paradise is lost and I am working really hard to get it back. Last Wednesday Rafa had packed his bags and was all ready for his big trip back to Guatemala for the Icaro festival, he was leaving in the early hours before it got light. I snuck off to bed knowing that I would be alone for the morning rush to school. Rafa came up later, he was aware he needed to get at least some sleep before his flight.
I was woken at 4.20 by Rafa telling me that his hand luggage had disappeared. As he knew he was leaving so early he had prepared everything to just fly straight out the door. Suddenly he realised that somebody else had flown straight out of the door with it. Then I started to look around the living room. Where was my handbag, my purse with my driving license and ID, my ipod and base, my blackberry, Nico’s school bag, the little DVD player …….. Rafa was despairing as he remembered exactly what was in his hand luggage, a large amount of cash to buy things for the film school, his brand new mac laptop with all his work and photos, presents for his sister ……….. and his passport.
The next 14 hours were spent dealing with the Cuban police. They came in droves and many different departments. They had a dog, they finger printed, they asked a million questions over and over. Everyone seemed to be from a different department. We got tired of giving the same descriptions over and over to different people. A lot of them were army. I didn’t understand, why was the army involved. Many new ones kept arriving and there was lots of hugging and banter and even some flirting. Some came in army uniforms, some police, some in plain clothes.
CSI woman (as Rafa and I later coined her as her tough slightly sexy tomboy image could have been well characterised) was there with her box of tricks dusting away with her young black sidekick with the slightly too short trousers. I described my Blackberry to her and mentioned that it was given to me by my sister in the UK and had a little O2 symbol on it. This seemed to cause some excitement and we were told to follow them to another office to take more details. Willing to do anything that helped, off we went. We then spent another hour with some other police in the office photoshopping a picture of a Blackberry with a little O2 motif and designing and drawing my little Quick Silver suitcase.
Meanwhile back at the scene of the crime ……my name and nationality caused a lot of bureaucratic stress. Was I inglesa or Britianica? Was I from Inglaterra or Gran Bretagne? What was Reino Unido? Even when I had my passport open in front of them.
Why did I only have one surname? Why were we not married? Oh goodness we had 3 children. Yes we have lived together for 8 years. Is that ok? We never found the time to get married and most people in the world only have one surname.
The Chanel lipstick I had in my bag (the least of my worries) but did I not like Victoria Secrets??? Uuuuuh not really I don’t really care about the lipstick right now just everything else!!
They had entered the house from the beach side through a side door that lead into a downstairs toilet. They had cut down our Guatemalan Hammock and supposedly used it to carry their loot. They had been fast and left through the front door. They had probably had a car waiting. The dog got a trail but it stopped at the corner of the street. They may have been watching our routine from the beach side of the house for weeks. They may have seen Rafa switch off the lights on his way up. They must have had a torch.
The boys didn’t do their homework that day and Paulo slept with his new plastic gun on his pillow. Now we have a man standing outside the house on the street all night. Everyone tells us that this is the season when theft and crime reach a peak for Christmas. Everything is obvious now after the event, as usual.
Rafa is now in Guatemala for the last of the festival. I spent the weekend at the film school with the children feeling sad and mopey and missing Rafa so we could be sad together.
There is very little violence in Cuba and people are not trafficking drugs, raping and killing women but still people also have very little money and are looking to a future where they will have to get real to survive. Maybe we were too complacent or just damn unlucky but it has happened and I don’t want to think about it any more.
Little by little we will replace our possessions but what is lost forever is the little piece of me that was so happy to be in my new paradise, so happy to trust and smile again.
All my family are alive and healthy and I must think about all the lovely friends who will arrive for the festival and the party and how things can be replaced and family and friends are forever.