27 Ways To Lose Your Luggage

Monday, September 10, 2007

With Kirsty, Dan, and Matt gone and my bank account dwindling, I was eager to sell my car as soon as possible and begin my trip to Perth. So it was that I spent the Saturday morning of Sept. 1 putting new tires on Betsy. Unfortunately, this didn't cure her whining and the verdict was that it WAS a bearing after all. So more money to spend on her, but that could wait until Monday. It was, after all my birthday, and Catherine called me up to meet. We went to Wet 'n' Wild for the afternoon, which was pretty fun. Well, okay, I didn't think any of the slides were all that exciting, which I guess must mean that I am actually 27 and not 17 as I'd suspected as recently as that morning. That's one theory. The other, the one I believe, is that the waterslides here just don't match up to West Ed's. I'm still that kid, somewhere in there. After the waterpark we went out on a big multi-hostel pub crawl that was a really good time, too. We partied late into the night, which, at my new age, could mean I stayed up past midnight, but nevertheless.

The next day was so nice and I had a meeting to go to at 2 in the afternoon, so I grabbed a boogie board for the morning and hit the surf. It's not quite as fun on your own, though, I don't know why. Too easy, I suppose. I'd rather be surfing as there's enough challenge for me to entertain myself at getting better. The meeting was for a timeshare sort of arrangement, though I wasn't quite sure of that going in. I thought it was for a travel club, but regardless I went and wasn't interested and got $75 to spend at the Post Office sending my stuff home. Woohoo! After last night I was pretty happy to sit at home and caption photos, something I'd not had time to do since leaving Cairns because I'd been with people the whole time. Monday came and it was back to car stuff. I got Betsy a Road Worthiness Certificate remarkably easily and then Catherine and I met to go see Lucky Miles, a story about what they call "boat people" here. People who save and save to get a trip to Australia and get unceremoniously dumped on a beach in the middle of nowhere with nothing but desert and certain death waiting. It was very well done and not as depressing as I made it sound - actually, quite amusing at times. Her parents invited me for dinner, so we went there later and had an absolutely terrific meal. It was a greek-style chicken pie and I ate a lot. Hey, I hadn't had a home-cooked meal in a long time.

Tuesday, Sept. 4. I got my wheel replaced and gave Betsy a good wash. As I drove away, I remarked at how much quieter she was. And then it squealed so piercingly that it was turning heads and having people cover their ears on the streets. I turned right around and got that little adjustment done (a stray piece of metal was rubbing), and now Betsy was ready to be sold. I just needed to put up some posters. While I was waiting for the work to be done, I hung around in the Australia Fair shopping centre and went to see the Bourne Ultimatum. EXCELLENT movie, one of the better ones I've seen in a while. And I mailed a bunch of stuff home, which was probably a good thing.

Wednesday, Sept. 5. I printed and put up posters that Betsy was for sale, and after having searched for an internet cafe where I could connect my laptop and upload my photos, I finally found one! That said, I was going to Byron Bay tomorrow and I knew plenty of places there to do it, so I wasn't too worried, but that was my plan for the night. I went back to the hostel to grab my laptop and ended up hanging out with everyone for a while. They were going out on another pub crawl and I didn't feel like it, though part of me thought it would be good for me to go out instead of sitting on my laptop for once. Try to be more social. Still, I decided against it, but then I spilled something on my shirt and when I went to change shirts I realized I'd put on my "night on the town" clothes. Alright, I guess my subconscious made the decision for me. I went out on the pub crawl and it was a great time. Only Rob stayed back from our room because he had work in the morning, and Johno because he had no money. I stumbled in around 2:30 and crashed.

Thursday, Sept. 6. I was off to Byron Bay today, so I woke up early enough to have a shower, then started packing my stuff. Now where did I leave my wallet? I didn't want to bring it with me because it's bulky in the pockets, so I just took my license, some cash, and a credit card (just in case). I thought I'd put it in my backpack, but I left in a bit of a rush, so who knows. I'll find it when I get my stuff together. I continued to pack and decided I should give my phone a little bit of a charge before I drive off. But where is my cable? I had a blue bag for all my cables, laptop charging, camera charging, you name it. Usually that's in the front side of my backpack? I must've taken it out. I looked in the closet. No. Shelf? No. Under the beds? No. Maybe I put it in the back pocket where I keep my laptop, though I never do. It gets too cramped in there. I unzipped the pocket and my stomach dropped through the floor. My laptop was gone. There's no way that was misplaced. It never leaves its hiding place, in a non-descript case inside my pack. I looked around the room. There were expensive sunnies sitting right by my bag - and didn't I leave my backpack in the closet? I always do, but I did leave in a rush... crap, crap, crap. I start to feel sick and panic sets in. Under beds? On my bed? Frantic searching. In the closet somewhere? Under stuff? I check the trunk of my car, maybe I left it there? No. Crap, crap, crap.

It was obvious I'd been robbed, but I spent about 1 minute in denial before I woke everyone in our room up and told them the situation. They all checked and their stuff was still there. A several hundred dollar camera that had been sitting on the floor, two hundred dollar glasses, another laptop. We all agreed it looked suspiciously like someone knew what was in my bag. And back to that, the thief had gone through every pocket of my backpack. They'd taken their time, taking what they wanted, leaving the stuff that was useless to them. Cables for everything, even. In addition to my laptop being gone, which, incidentally, housed all my photos from the last nine months, a video I was making, all my music, blog posts (these posts since Cairns have been scribbled hastily in a notebook before I could forget them), you name it, I also lost my iPod (yeah, I could buy a new one, but not with music on it), my watch from Melbourne, my wallet with travel insurance, credit cards, calling cards, cash, and so on, and my camera. Oh, and yes, I did have a backup of most of my photos and things, but that was stolen too. I guess keeping it in the same bag as my laptop wasn't too bright to begin with.

Anyway, I searched all the bags in the room. I woke up the people in the neighbouring room and searched their bags. I called the police. I called home. I cancelled my credit cards and talked to the police when they showed up. They concluded that it was a break and enter because the door and window were wide open at 2 AM, even though there were zero signs of forced entry and it didn't explain why the thief was so selective in only stealing my stuff and having time to sift through the bag. Basically, they couldn't be bothered, that much was obvious. They made a show of taking IDs from everyone there, but all of us had been out at the pub crawl the night before. The only two people who hadn't they were quite uninterested in, in spite of the fact that one of them had presumably been in the room when this thief of theirs came in from outside. And as for the story that they hopped the fence to avoid being seen, well, I tried it and don't think so. Not easily anyway.

I was panicked, I was sick, and I didn't know what to do. I searched cars, including Rob's van when he pulled up. Nothing. I walked into town aimlessly just trying to think and calm myself down. I've had this happen before, when I was in Ireland. Life went on, I'll be fine and it will suck but worse things could befall me. But despite knowing this, I was still sick. Nauseous. I was pretty sure I was going to throw up. Concentrate. Do something! THINK!! OK, there are two options. If it was stolen from outside, it was probably a neighbour who could see I had a laptop. Though I guess it could've been someone who stumbled on my bag first when they came in the room and decided they'd gotten more than enough. Or heard a noise or something. I don't buy it, though. It just doesn't add up. Most of the people staying with me agree. The other option is it was stolen by another backpacker. But where would they stash it? They'd need a friend to keep it, or a vehicle (hence my search), or a place. Johno had no friends I knew of nor vehicle, though it turned out he'd been dating a girl for a while and just gotten a job the day prior, hence his absence that morning. Rob had a vehicle, a job, and presumably friends. The others were out with me. Though it could've been someone in a different room, too, or someone that came home early. Still, I found out that Rob hadn't paid his rent in some time and he'd mentioned leaving for work in the morning that he would be that night. And when everyone got beer that night, Johno, who didn't come out the night before because he had no money bought a cube of it. I tried to get over it enough to think straight and hatch a plan. Theories but no facts.

Friday, Sept. 7. That morning, I decided to check out the neighbours. It was hare-brained, but worth a shot. My first stop was the crackheads that stayed across from us and could see into our room. They had their music going loud, so I thought I'd pop in all friendly. "Ah, I thought maybe we were having a party here, it's pretty dull over in the hostel. Thanks, I'd love to come in. This looks like a nice place, how much do you pay? I pay too much to stay in a hostel. Oh, really, that's not bad. And how big are the bedrooms? Do you mind? Yeah, not bad at all! Thanks for that, enjoy your party up in Brisy tonight" And so it was that I determined they didn't have it. I went to the other neighbours and came up with excuses on a case-by-case basis, but got invited into each of their homes. The only snag was one recluse that invited me in and wanted to show me how far he was in Gran Turismo. He'd wracked up some huge amount of cash on the game and every car oevr the course of two years, and his pale skin verified his story. I hatched another scheme that required my absence and drove down to Byron Bay for the day and poster for my car. The weather was pretty poor down there, but I had a good roommate, Tim (AKA Shaggy), and we went to see a movie to get my mind off things. Ratatouie was not horrible but not good nor great. Tim had wanted to see Le Vie en Rose but I'd wanted something lighter. It was absolutely pouring down when we got out of the movie, so we went right back in and saw Le Vie, which was excellent, very very good.

Saturday, Sept. 8. I drove up to Brisbane and looked around at camera shops, discovering that not only had my camera been discontinued, but a new one was coming out in a couple weeks. So I couldn't find anything like my stolen camera anywhere. Same with the iPods. New ones had just been released, so the old ones weren't on shelves and new ones weren't going to be in for a week or two. I stayed in a room with three Irish girls and one Japanese girl, and the Japanese girl and I went for a drink that night. I'm surprised how many Japanese girls I've met traveling on their own, it doesn't seem like something their culture would foment.

Sunday, Sept. 9. I canvassed Brisbane, car posters in hand. Other hostels, laundromats, travel agents, anywhere with a wall or notice board. I walked all the way to the West End and Southbank, which were pretty nice, and then from there to the Valley. One of the pubs had a big screen for the Geelong footy finals and also a live band, and I thought I'd stop there, have a well-deserved beer, and watch the game and band. There were no seats but one guy around my age was sitting on his own and I asked if I could join him. His name was Scott and, coincidentally, he was heading to NYC and Canada tomorrow and having a going away that night. So we watched the game together, some of his friends joined us, in particular Liam, who had also done a lot of travel. We drove to another bar and had pizza, drinks, and I met even more of Scott's friends, and it was a great night. I even forgot my laptop troubles for a while. Liam invited me to couchsurf at his place anytime I needed and I told Scott to visit in Canada, and then I got a lift back to Tinbilly's hostel.

Monday, Sept. 10. I drove the Irish girls down from Brisbane to Surfer's Paradise today, stopping at a place I had found on the internet in the middle of nowhere that still had my camera in stock. The salesagent was really helpful there and gave me a decent discount as well as helped the girls recover their accidentally deleted photos. So, I now had a new camera, travels could commence. Oh, and I'd gotten a call about someone interested in seeing Betsy, which was why I was stopping in Surfers on the way down to Byron. New camera in tow, the girls and I had lunch in Surfers and then I met Aidin to show him the car. He was with a friend (both were Irish) and they walked around the car once, we talked about it, and they asked if $2000 was as low as I'd go. They wanted it for $1600. I got them to pay $1800 and Betsy was sold. I just had to run my day's errands. I popped on the internet and found a cheap flight to Darwin for Sept 11, i.e. tomorrow. Then I drove down to Byron Bay to mail off my didj home (it would be difficult to carry around without a car) and pickup my passport, which I'd left in a safe there. I drove back up to Surfer's Paradise, packed my things from the trunk and did a last check for any other valuables, sold the car and said goodbye to Betsy, and grabbed a bus to the train station for the last train to Brisbane. Liam, my new friend from Brisbane, helped me organize times and picked me up from the train station. THAT was a busy day. Brisbane to Surfers to Byron to Surfers to Brisbane again, plus I sold my car, booked a flight, and had lunch with some friends. Whew.

Tuesday, September 11. Liam was at work all day so I had the place to myself. I got all my laundry done, and luckily he and his flatmates have some great taste in music, so I was able to burn a bunch of it onto DVDs for when I DID finally get an iPod. Plus, with a high speed connection, I could download a few other things that I had lost musically. Liam drove me to the train which I took to the airport that night, and I was off on a flight to Darwin. Yes, my stuff is still stolen, still somewhere, maybe in Surfers. I tried anything and everything I could think of. I searched rooms, bags, neighbours, cars. I asked questions and hatched schemes, two of which are still in operation to this day (Oct 27, a month and a half later) and I thus can't talk about. I hope to find my stuff, and if I'm lucky even be able to get some photos and personal things that can't be bought back, but I had to move on because every day was just this overwhelming feeling of helplessness and shattered hope. But I don't expect to, or I'm trying to let go of my hope, because the sooner it's in the past, the sooner I can move forward again. Hopefully a few days in Darwin and the outdoors will help with that. Plus, I have a camera again. Photos will resume on the next post.

No comments: