Good morning, readers, friends, and family.
I have been absent a lot lately. The first couple months of the year, I have no real excuse. Life just gets in the way of blogging. I am on holiday now, with every intention of catching up, and finishing up drafts of old posts and that is when the monkey wrench was thrown into my rather happy life.
I landed back in the States, in San Francisco, eager to start a wonderful trip in one of my favourite areas. I checked into a hotel, went to my room. There I got robbed at gun point. I was just in the room and something made me turn around. In doing so, I saw a man covered up and pointing a gun at me.
He took all my electronics, cash, and some other belongings. What was more unnerving was how he took his time and was methodical. I was blindfolded and told to lie face down on the bed. I could hear him open all my bags and dump the contents out.
I told the police this wasn’t his first rodeo. He was too slow, calm to never have done something like this before. He had the presence of mind to make sure I took the password protection off all the electronics, rebooting them to confirm. Oddly he didn’t find my driver’s license, even asking me to take it out. I pointed him to my overseas ID card.
I was held hostage for about two hours. I got the sense he tried to leave earlier, but there might have been people in the hallway. He told me to fall asleep and that he would leave half an hour after I was asleep. When he found that I wasn’t sleeping, even checking my pulse to confirm, he accused me of not complying.
He eventually left. He didn’t close the door completely. That door closing was what I was waiting for and I must have waited for another 10 minutes after his departure when I dared to lift my head and look around.
The police knocked on the doors of the rooms in the same hallway asking if anyone has noticed anything. Neighbours confirmed hearing commotion. Hearing that was like a stab in the stomach. I know hotels have an aura of privacy but what if someone had knocked to check? What if my two hour ordeal could have been aborted?
It was the fact that I was held two hours and the fact that his grubby paws touched every possession I had on me that has left me shaken. Had he taken my stuff and just ran, I might not be having such an emotional response. I would have been angry and that would be the end of it. Instead I feel violated, unsafe. Worst, I don’t know how comfortable I would be in a hotel anymore. As a frequent business and leisure traveler, how this impacts me remains to be seen.
I chose not to publish more detail, as cathartic as writing may be, because the police are investigating and I don’t want to interfere with or jeopardise their work. As tempting as Internet shaming the hotel is, I am not ready to do so yet. God knows that hotel has a lot to answer for and that I will never set a foot in any of their properties again. Believe me, all will be revealed in due time.
For the most part, my lost items are a minor nuisance. I am lucky in the sense that I have the financial means to replace my belongings and track my credit activity. What hurts the most is the external hard drive used as an archive of my photos taken since 2008. I have them backed up over Christmas, so the only photos lost were those of 2013. But emotionally, that is the hardest loss to take. In addition to my comfort in traveling being abused, I now lost my best record of my past travels.
I am eternally grateful for my family and friends who helped bring my vacation and my life back on track and the outpour of love and support from those everywhere else in the world. I know we often feel words are useless when we say them but during the ordeal I had never felt so alone. Hearing from people now have helped me realize I really am not alone and I do have loved ones caring.