Saturday, January 12, 2008

The break-in

This is the village of Gordes, pronounced 'Gord', a lovely 'perch' village. There are many in France and they are very proud of them and no wonder because they are so beautiful, 'beau plus'. As many times as I've been in Provence I don't think there will be anytime soon that I've exhausted seeing all the lovely villages. I will continue to visit Provence. After seeing Roussillon we were on our way to visit Gordes. Up to this point the mood was jovial and Jessica, our driver and guide that day, was beaming, she couldn't wait to show us Gordes. She said, before we head up the mountain, we will stop halfway at a viewing point and see the most gorgeous panoramic view of the village, perched high on the top of a mountain. She parked the mini van and we walked just 100 yards to the viewing area. It was breathtaking, so beautiful, wow. We took pictures and she took a picture of me and Sophie and we headed back to the car.
Just as we turned we heard the crashing of glass, the rest thought someone fell, I thought someone crashed their car into our van because it was clearly the sound of breaking glass. I ran towards the van and saw 2 men in dark jackets reaching into the front seat of the van to take whatever was there. They ran and drove off, a third person was in the car acting as the drive away driver. It happened so fast, the others in my group realized it was a break in and they all screamed in unison, 'my bag'. They have all left their stuff in the back seat of the van. Thank God, because the thieves didn't have time to ransack the whole car. My heart sank when I heard Sophie said that, this would mean cutting sort the trip, head to Paris, go to the US embassy to fix her passport for the trip home. Phew, their stuff remained in the van. They took Jessica's purse and my trench coat. She was in tears, she had just withdrew 200 euros from the bank as she gets ready for her weekend trip to Barcelona. She was clearly shaken. My day bag hangs round my neck at all times as evidenced in the photo. I don't even lay it down in restaurants. I remember hanging it on a chair in a restaurant in Venice some years ago, only to walk out without it after the meal. I ran back inside to retrieve it but that feeling of horror still remains with me.
Guide books always warn never to leave anything in a rented car and the same goes for an excursion van, even for a short while and even when you are only an earshot away which was what we were. I'm surprised at Jessica, she should have known better because a colleague of hers had their excursion van broken in a few days ago when they were out with a group of tourists. No one saw much, no one expected it, the other people at the scene wasn't paying attention either. We were all shaken up.
Jessica proceeded to drive us to Gordes, dropped us off there, so she can go to the French Gendarme office to get a police report. Sophie had her bag in the van, so did Maria and Jose had his leather jacket there which he said had 1000 euros when the break in occurred. We continue our visit to the beautiful village of Gordes. By the time Jessica came back for us, she was more composed and we headed back to Avignon.
The next day we were to go on another excursion with the same company, this time also with Maria and Jose. This time Jose wore his money belt and said, this time unless they' the thieves could sack the hanging gardens of Babylon or the Roman ruins, they couldn't get at where he has the 1000 euros'.
We had Stephanie as our driver the next day because Jessica needed to go back to the police station in Gordes.
When we got back to Avignon, I went to H & M to look for another coat, I needed one because it was cold. So the trench coat which I bought in Catania in March and wore for the first time on this trip is gone forever. I only have photographs to remember it by.....

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