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Kamalen Karidat

February 13, 2013

Guam – Saturday, February 2

My day started off wonderfully well. I was headed down to a rummage sale sponsored by the Kamalen Karidat, and the proceeds from their rummage sales help support the local soup kitchen that provides a meal every day to those who need it. It was nice to see a number of people at the sale. I went indoors to talk to Maria, one of the ladies who runs the soup kitchen and to make my donation. She showed me around the facilty which includes plenty of space to set up things like a rummage sale, and then it turns into a dining room. The kitchen area was pretty spacious and they’re very well organized – not only do people get a free meal every day, but they’re also sent back with enough food and water to get them through the next day until they can get another meal. They are not federally funded, and rely entirely on donations from individuals and businesses, and have never run out of food. Maria also gave me a contact name in Saipan if I need it.

Since I was in Hagatna, I thought I’d walk around the town a bit more and follow their History Trail – it led past an old Spanish government complex, a big church, monuments and up to a couple of old cannons on a hill when the bay needed to be defended. Then I walked out into a park on a peninsula that jutted out into the ocean and found a couple treasures to bring back. By this time it was nearly noon, and I’d walked 4 miles, and thought I’d go back to the bay area to get one more mile of walking done before setting off to drive around the southern part of the island. A lot of family groups were out BBQing and swimming, and it was just a pretty day to be outside.

I walked back to my car in the little parking lot by the water….and saw shattered glass everywhere. Someone had bashed in the driver’s side window of my rental car, and glass was all over the seats, floor, parking lot…and my purse was gone. Robbed in broad daylight. My purse had cash (not much – I was due for a stop at the ATM), credit cards, drivers license, passport and cell phone. Gone. Far away from home without a penny, no identification and no phone. I was just frozen in shock, and couldn’t imagine how someone had had the guts to do something like that in a relatively busy area. I had left my purse on the floor under a map, but the map was no doubt an indicator of a tourist – not to mention I don’t look like a local person. Since I had recently made a donation, I had taken my checkbook out of my purse along with my camera, and those 2 things were still on the front seat of the car. I did feel very lucky to at least have those. With my laptop problems, I hadn’t been very good about uploading pictures to the computer frequently, and I would have been so upset to lose my pictures of the territories. And still having the checkbook means my donations can continue on, so that was a good thing too. But I was still upset and shaking. There was an Asian couple nearby and I tried to ask if they saw anything, but they didn’t speak any English. I knew I needed to call the police and reached in my pocket for my phone, then remembered once again that I no longer have a phone. And I didn’t know how to call them anyway – 911 in Guam? I walked down to a Japanese fish shop which was open and the lady was kind enough to let me use her phone to call the police. It took them a little while to arrive, but then he looked at the car, and we sat down to do a pretty thorough report. I had been shaking, and it did me good to sit down, catch my breath, and realize that I was perfectly fine, and things could be replaced. Deep breath, and the show goes on! I was worried about the rental car, but the police officer said that could wait while I returned to the hotel to start canceling credit cards. The hotel staff was really nice, and let me use the long distance phone as much as I needed to contact the credit card companies, going off memory and looking up contact info on the iPad as I went. The thieves were quick – there was already a charge at a gas station for nearly $50 on one of the cards. It took quite a while to take care of all that, and to deal with the phone. I actually had a list of contact info for my credit cards back in my van in Florida and eventually I called Toni and woke her up in the middle of the night – but I needed her to check the list. I realized I had no money for food and the front desk staff found a couple granola bars, and I had peanut butter and a couple rolls in my room. As far as things like my drivers license and passport, it was Friday night back home, and those places would all be closed til Monday. And I had my flight to Saipan in the middle of the night on Monday and I worried whether I could fly without any identification.

Then I had to take the car to the rental place. I was sitting on a notebook because I hadn’t been able to get all the glass shards off the seat, and I brought them back a very messy car. I figured they wouldn’t give me another one. They were really nice about it all though – made sure I was okay, and I had a case number from the police that they would use to obtain the actual report in a few days. I had paid for my card with my Discover card which offers accident protection with rentals, and although I don’t know about the process, I think Discover will cover the cost of cleanup and a new window. And they brought out another car for me to use the remaining 2 days. And up in my room I discovered my camera case had $20 in it, so at least I had a little cash.

By now it was evening, and I just needed to get out and walk and get some fresh air and clear my brain. I went down to the Tumon Bay area where there was lots of light and lots of people out walking and jogging. I was conscious of people walking behind me and didn’t think much of it. My destination was a Japanese noodle shop called FujiIchiBan (not sure of spelling) which had caught my eye the other day, and I was going to go in to look at the takeout menu and prices, but not eat since I didn’t have money on me. A lady who had been walking behind me for quite a ways also turned in at the noodle shop, and we both had to stop and wait for a passing car and she made a comment about both of us walking quite a ways and turning in at the same place. She was from the mainland, and on her own, and I made some comment about how it would be fun to compare notes about Guam but I wasn’t actually eating because I didn’t have my money on me. After I looked at the menu and started walking out, the lady invited me to join her and said I could pay her back after dinner. I assured her I did have a bit of money back at the hotel. So we enjoyed our noodles together and talked about what we had done on Guam – she was there on Air Force business and was then heading to Australia. I told her about what I was doing and what had happened earlier that day, and in the end she treated me to dinner and refused my offer to return with payment. It was a wonderful gesture of kindness after a very trying day, and she was just kind of like a guardian angel who showed up at just the right time. Thank you again Donna! I returned to the motel and tried to relax enough to sleep – I knew there’d be more things to deal with in the morning.
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