Life reached out and gave us a bitch slap recently.
We’d taken an overnight trip with friends to Puntarenas, on the west coast of Costa Rica, a couple of hours away from our Puriscal home. At eight that morning, we’d boarded a catamaran for Tortuga Island. We’d snorkeled, strolled the beach, eaten lunch and returned to Puntarenas by five, ready for the drive home.
Six of us had agreed to meet at a local restaurant on the way home, so none of us would have to cook. The dinner was uneventful, except that I ordered a chicken and jalapeño dish that arrived swimming in an off-putting cheese-like sauce. My dog Buddha will love it, I thought, peppers and all, as I scarfed down Jack’s french fries.
Jack was the first to notice something amiss when we returned to our friends’ car. “Somebody broke your window,” he said.
I felt a tightening in my gut, as we gathered at the rear of the car, and looked inside.
“Do you see my suitcase?” I asked. I’d bought it on my last trip home to Philly. It was one of those hard-bodied ones, in metallic silver.
“It’s here somewhere,” said Jack.
“Where?” I asked, but I knew it wasn’t there. I’d rifled through it for a hoodie just before we’d gone into the restaurant. My new suitcase had been the last item in the back of our friends’ Galloper.
The theft was a typical smash and grab. My friend’s fanny pack had been taken, as had Jack’s camera and my suitcase. Inside it were a Mac laptop, a cell phone, an ipod, my favorite pearl earrings, Jack’s only decent shoes, my electric toothbrush, and some clothes I’m super fond of, including a dress I’d bought in London.
On the way out of the restaurant, we’d stepped around a group of young people gathered at the front door of the restaurant. We wondered how they had managed not to hear the sound of the car window breaking; but they were locals, and we were unknown, and supposedly rich gringos, despite the obvious age of the car.
We waited to make a police report, mostly because the restaurant owners wanted us to, though we all knew we’d never see our belongings again. On the way home, we talked about other times we’d been robbed; that horrible feeling of violation we remembered so well; and how difficult— and very expensive it would be to replace our stuff.
“Your nail clippers were in there,” I said to Jack.
“The pair I bought in Paris?” he asked, crestfallen.
It’s funny, I thought, how the little things taken from us often matter more than big, expensive items. Though we’ll have to spend much more than we’d like, we’ll order replacements for our gadgets, but we’ll never have the pearl earrings Jack bought for me on our first Christmas together, the dress I bought in London, or Jack’s nail clippers from Paris.