Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lon's Camera in Peru

Lon’s Camera in Peru

I walked into the Lima restaurant. A waitress graciously seated me in a corner booth. “Sit here” she said in Spanish.  She motioned to me to put my backpack in the corner behind.  I put my sunglasses, hat and camera inside the top of my backpack. I sat in the chair with my back to the corner.   My backpack was secure behind me. The waitress was friendly and chatting in Spanish even though I could not understand a thing she was saying over the disco style music.  She motioned for someone in the back room to turn up the music which made it even harder for me to hear her words.
The food came after 15 minutes.  I ate quickly and left.  I took my backpack and went outside. I noticed a side zipper pocket was open and some loose coins were missing, but maybe I had not closed it. I put on my hat and sunglasses and got in a taxi.  As I was riding back to my hotel I opened my back pack and looked for my camera.  I did not see it on top of my things.  Maybe it had fallen to the bottom of my pack.  Maybe I had not put it in my backpack that morning.  Now I was not sure.  I better go back to hotel and look for it.
I did not see my camera in my room.  I began to reconstruct my meal in the restaurant.  The corner seat. The chatty waitress. The loud music. The open zipper pocket. The missing coins.  I was sure now someone had opened my backpack and took my camera while I ate.
I was going back to ask for my camera.  I better take some insurance.  The only thing I had was a 12 inch metal file I had bought a week earlier to sharpen machetes at the orphanage.  The file was not much, but it had a good handle and the serrated edge was as good as a sharp knife.  I put it in my pack and took a taxi 15 minutes back to the restaurant.  What would I say to the restaurant waitress?  I was sure she took part in the plan to look through my pack.  I did not care some much about the camera as I did about the 100 edited photos from my tour to the orphanage the week before. I had traveled 300 miles into the jungle to the orphanage to deliver food and clothing and I had some interesting photos of the children and adventure I wanted to keep.
I walked into the restaurant.  My waitress was not there. I looked at the corner booth.  I think there was a hidden wall panel that would allow someone to put their hands through the wall. I asked the other waitresses where my camera was.  They gave me a blank look.  Now they pretended not to understand my English.  I motioned I wanted my camera by clicking a photos with my imaginary camera.  “No say” (no se)... they said. “I want my camera”... I said.  “No say” ...they said and walked away. “The lost money was not important...I need my camera”... I said.  I motioned that the photos of my children were important.  I needed the camera.  I took the file out of my pack and sat down in a chair near the door blocking the entrance. I slapped the file into my palm.  I crossed my legs and looked comfortable in front of the door so no new customers could enter.
“One momento, one momento, one momento” a waitress said as she went into the back room.  I repeated my need for the camera because of the photos of the children.  It was a long five minutes as other people in the restaurant did not know whether to leave or stay and watch what would happen. Maybe the waitress went to get three cooks with bigger knives to get rid of me. At least I was near the door in case I needed to run.
Finally one of the waitresses appeared from the back room with my camera.  I grabbed it checked the battery and disc.  Both were still there.  “Gracias” I said.  I turned on the camera and motioned for the waitresses to look at my photos on the disc.  I showed them some photos of the kids in my camera . They smiled and understood I was not a crazy man.  I put the file back in my pack.  As I was about to leave one of the waitresses had the nerve to ask for one dollar for retrieving the camera. I rolled my eyes and shook my head no. “Ask the waitress who took the money” I said as I walked outside. I knew I had another story to add to my adventures in Peru.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was bold!! I would hate to lose photos of any trip. Glad you got the childrens pictures back.

8:05 AM  

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