Daddy's Christmas Angel

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Three Strikes You're Out

©Mary Montague Sikes

Years ago, we researched the island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. Each year, we sought out new destinations because we enjoyed winter trips to the islands. It was wonderful to get away from the cold and sometimes snowy weather of the Virginia tidewater area.

Since both of us love to play tennis, for our first week there, we chose a resort with several tennis courts. For our second week, we selected a quiet, scenic spot with the possibility of good photography opportunities for my Tropical Fantasies painting series and for my travel writing articles. Even before we started to unpack, my husband was invited to make a fourth in a tennis doubles match. He grabbed his racquet and headed off, happy for the quick opportunity to play.

Not long afterwards, I heard a commotion and discovered that Olen had injured his knee with a quick stop after chasing down a forehand drive. Although the other players urged him to just “walk it off”, he was medical-savvy enough to realize the severity of his injury. A visit to the nurse’s station yielded two aspirin and a pair of crutches.

Later, when he hobbled onto the beach, a tall blond man noticed him and came to look at his injury. He told my husband he had a bucket tear and not to straighten his knee until an orthopedic surgeon back home saw him. We learned later that the man was head of orthopedic surgery at Yale University—a fortunate encounter. For two weeks, he limped along as we explored the island.

That was Strike One.

Several years later, we decided to give Guadeloupe another try. Things seemed to be going well, as we investigated both wings of the lush green French island. We attended a Carnival event. We rented a cab and took a far-reaching tour of the more remote villages.

All seemed to be going well. We loved the beautiful modest timeshare resort we traded into. Our unit overlooked a scenic little yacht basin that gave us a lovely view at sunset. A faulty electric dryer was the worst glitch we experienced the first few days we were there.

Then, something unexpected happened. At 3 a.m., I was suddenly awakened. A man was in our room.

“Why are you here now, Marcus,” I called out, thinking fuzzily this was the promised dryer repairman.

The tall dark man grabbed my belly pack and a watch left lying on the dresser. Because there was no safe in our room, our passports, husband’s money, traveler’s checks, and my money were all stored inside.

I screamed for my husband to wake up, and he jumped out of bed, chasing the fleeing thief who dropped the watch but clung to the belly pack. I was screaming for help, but people later told me, they thought we were a couple having a fight.

Olen raced after the escaping robber and followed him to the resort entrance where he halted the chase. Because he was running nude and didn’t want to encounter the Guadeloupe police in that situation, Olen stopped and returned to the unit. We both dressed and hurried outside, looking for someone on duty at our resort. To our surprise and disappointment, we found nothing was open and no one, not even one guard, was there. We rushed on to the resort across the road with an open lobby where we had trouble communicating in French. We did make our situation known but did not get any sympathy. In fact, the officials did not appear surprised.

This was a time before we had cell phone service available in the islands, so with no money we could not even make a call out for help. We had done all we could by reporting the loss. However, we decided to check out the roadway where the bandit vanished.

We walked along, investigating the grounds on either side of us. As light began to appear in the sky, we saw a man walking a dog. When we explained our situation, he showed us a red pocketbook. It was my little ID carrier. All the money and credit cards were gone, but my driver’s license was there. I was thankful to have it. Still no passports. What would we do?  

We kept walking and looking until we decided to go back to our resort and wait for the office to open. When it did, we went inside. No sympathy once again and no help. We had no idea what to do next.

Then, all of a sudden, the entrance door opened and a French businessman from Paris entered. He was looking for us. He found our passports in his yard and discovered that someone from our resort had reported the robbery. He was considerate enough to find us and to give us a ride to look some more. Along the way, we found an empty belly pack. When we returned home, I created a pastel painting for the kind Frenchman and mailed it to Paris.

I will always believe the Guadeloupe cab driver set us up for the robbery and that the resort workers and the police knew what had happened. We were fortunate to have the kindness of other strangers on our side.

That trip was Strike Two.

We don’t plan to visit Guadeloupe again. Who knows how devastating Strike Three might be?


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