Monday, May 27, 2013

Weekly (MIS)Adventure Report

Well, it’s been a few weeks since the last update and of course that just means more adventures to share!  Like I said last time, as long as I keep living them, I’ll keep sharing them with you guys! And once again, I’ll give you a reason to be happy you’re only reading the updates and not living them! :)

So, after about 2 weeks, the octopus allergy finally subsided.  I headed to Rwanda to arrange the logistics for the 7 Scottish volunteers that will be coming in June to help build a library, a rain water catchment system and a play structure at the nursery school.  I stayed for 5 days and then headed back home to Mwanza.  I arrived Sunday afternoon at 4pm and in less than 40 hours, my laptop, netbook, external hard drive (with the back files of my computers), my old digital camera, our house guest’s netbook, Victor’s phone, and our TV was all gone!!!

To quote Ted from How I Met Your Mother, “Nothing Good Happens After 2am.”  Without a doubt,  I definitely believe this to be true! :)

So, yup, less than 40 hours after returning from Rwanda (36 to be exact), a whole bunch of stuff disappeared and one itty bitty thing appeared!  The good news was our house guest, Hija and his wife Shani welcomed their new bundle of joy to the world!  On Saturday morning, Shani went into labour and after a long and painful 12 hours, the doctors in Mwanza decided to do an emergency C-section.  I wasn’t there for the event but it would definitely not be my first choice to have an emergency section in Mwanza.  The good news is everything turned out great and Shani and Hija welcomed a new 6lb baby boy into in the world.

So that’s the good news!  Shani stayed in the hospital for a few days and while she was bringing a new baby into our house, a local group of thieves were bringing things out of our house.  I guess that’s… karma? Maybe??? 

So, Monday night I was sitting in our living room working on my laptop.  Around 230am, I heard some noise on the window, which of course was odd since it was quite late and everyone else was already in bed.  I opened the drapes to peak outside and thought I saw a glimpse of someone/something dashing away.  I wasn’t positive but then I saw a shadow moving on the ground.  I went to the dining room and peaked out the window and outside was a dude… just standing outside our window.  He was holding a flashlight and just kind of glancing around.  “Hmmm…” I thought to myself. “That’s odd… especially since we have a massive fence around our house with sharp wire rods on top.”  Just to clarify.  Currently, we’re staying in a house that Tabitha’s sister rented.  Our contract ended in Kisesa last November so while I was in Canada, Tabitha and Victor were staying in a house that her sister had rented just on the outskirts of Mwanza.  It’s a beautiful house with all the luxuries of home.  Nothing like I’m used to here in Tanzania so it definitely takes some time to get used to it.  

Anyways, so there I was in the living room of this beautiful house clicking away on my laptop when the noise started.  After seeing the dude just standing around, I went to wake Tabitha and Victor to see if maybe we got a security guard while I was gone…. Nope! The dude standing around was neither guard nor friend… which left us wondering what he could be up to.  In Canada, this would have prompted a call to 911 but when you’re in the middle of Tanzania what do you do?  We looked out all the windows and saw no sign of anyone.  We turned on all the lights, opened the door and peeked out.  All of our shoes were still there along with our bicycles and other random stuff.  With all the doors locked and all the bars on the windows and with the three of us and all 6  house guests sleeping inside, we decided that whoever may have been creeping around was likely scared off by seeing the commotion and even if that wasn’t the case, there was no chance that he could get in with everything locked up and all of us in the house.  Tabitha and Victor went back to bed and I carried on working until about 345am.  I put my laptop away in the cupboard (yes, this was silly in retrospect) then had a quick look out the windows and went to bed.  I locked the living room and dining room doors and was asleep in seconds.   Two and a half hours later, Tabitha burst into my room asking if I took the TV.  I don’t remember what I answered but I’m fairly confident it was incoherent because on two hours of sleep, it’s hard to come up with an answer to someone asking if you took the tv.  I might have said, “Where?”  Following my incoherent answer and the panic stricken look on Tabitha’s face, I followed here to the living room only to see an empty void where once a TV sat and a barren cupboard where only 2 hours before, my laptops had been sitting.  We all pretty much went into shock.  It took us a minute to discover that the thieves had cut the bars on the window and jimmied the window open, climbed inside through a tiny space and proceeded to steal all the things they could in the few hours they had between me going to sleep and Tabitha waking up.

So, once we gathered our wits about us, we headed out in the drizzly rain to the police station to report the incident.  I won’t go into ALL the details about the entire case but basically, there is amazing phone technology here that allows you to TRACK phones.  I’m sure it exists back home but I never realized that it existed here and boy was I thankful to discover IT DOES! So, the police went to work tracking Victor’s phone and later that day, we got report that the thieves used victor’s phone at 6am to call a phone number registered to Karim Kombo… and had it not been for that one slip up on the thieves part…. we never would have gotten are stuff back!

YUP!!! We got it all back!! Well, almost all back! It took over 2 weeks of working with the Mwanza Cyber Crime Unit (we quickly changed their name from detective to defective)… we dealt with the forensic unit, the Intelligencia Unit and a bunch of people in between.  As you can probably imagine, the process was a long draw out goose chase.. the defective tried to convince us the thieves had shipped the stuff to Dar and they needed to board a plane instantly to go track it down.  The forensics unit came out to collect fingerprints but the only thing that did was leave pink fairy dust on the windows.  We never heard any answer from them.  With Hija and Tabitha’s insistence, and support from the head of police, the defectives finally agreed to follow up with the phone number for Karim and that lead us to his wife, who lead us willingly to Karim himself who just happened to be using Victor’s phone!  Thanks to hours of watching Hawaii 5.0, 24 and Hustle, Tabitha and Hija, with the defectives, were able to track down and capture 6 potential thieves from all parts of Mwanza! Four were put in jail, interrogated, beaten, and in the end... the thief, Karim himself, actually came forward with information that allowed us to track down almost everything that was stolen. 

In a little over 2 weeks, we got the tv back, Victor’s phone, the digital camera and all three laptops.  The only downside was that all the files had been completed wiped off the computers… all three of them! 7 years of work.. deleted in a matter of seconds.  But at least the stuff was returned and it meant all our efforts were not in vain.  The only item that is still MIA is the external hard drive but someone has come forward to say that they have it and are willing to return it… so, hopefully there is still a chance to get that back too.  We’ll see how lucky I am ;)

So, yeah, that’s the story! Just one more (mis)adventure on the journey to Hero Home!  We’ve fixed the windows now and our next step is to get a guard dog! :)