20 July 2006

What a week! Sand storms and...kidnappings?!

Monday afternoon walking home from work, I walked through a sand storm. I didn't know there was one when I set out from the office. When I turned the corner to our neighborhood where it is open out to the fields, I was hit by a blast. A literal blast of sand and dirt. It turned dark and swirls of sand like little tornados were in the air (not strong like that but twirly shaped). I had to stop and turn my back to it for a minute. I finally put on my sunglasses, so I could see through the dust particles to walk the last two blocks home. Really weird. Apparently some climates have these regularly. We've had to dust and vacuum and mop really thoroughly this week.

Wednesday, we went to the mall and looked at the portable air conditioners. When we left, I had one of those amazed moments of realizing we'd conducted all our business in Spanish. It's a challenge mind you, but still surprising when it works. We bought one ac unit - to be delivered Friday. Wish I had it now, sweating at 10:45 pm. Won't have one in the office anyway, so it wouldn't matter.

Thursdays I work at home, usually on the website since I don't have the right tools at work. The last few weeks of 90s + temps I've taken advantage of Thursday mornings to get a walk in before the hot temperatures hit. This morning I did this too. I was in the neighborhood just below ours and saw a construction worker guy (they all wear blue work pants here) go calling to his girlfriend (or some girl) up the street near our neighborhood. At first I thought she forgot her keys or something. She didn't get in the car she was about to take a ride from (like a car pool pick up). They started fighting audibly.

By now, they were standing on the corner I had to walk on to get home. It was escalating and I thought I'd have to walk through some domestic violence and was wondering what to do. They were yelling in Romanian. (I know you're saying how does she know, there are a lot of Romanians here.) So I couldn't understand them.

As I approached another guy appeared and they grabbed the girl. A car pulled up and they covered her mouth and grabbed her by the arms and started dragging her, kicking, fighting and screaming to the car. By this time, I was on the same corner and only a few feet away from all of this. Standing and staring, probably with my mouth open. I was thinking I had to do something, and how on earth would I be able to explain this in Spanish because I would have to call the police if they drove off with her.

The driver of the car started saying, "No, no, no" when she started screaming. They were covering her mouth. The driver began to drive off without letting them put her in the car, at which point they let her go. She walked over to me and I said in Spanish. Come to my house. As we walked, she was visibly shaken. I asked did she know the men and she said yes. I think we were both a bit shaken, and I couldn't really make my Spanish work. She thanked me for staying and explained that she worked for a neighbor of ours whose husband is with the police. So, she rang their bell and went in their house. I went home. Dar thinks I should go to the neighbors and ask them what this was all about.

Dar and I were speculating about human trafficing, white slavery, and illegal immigration scams. They obviously thought she owed them something.

Needless to say, today I locked the gate and the door. Then in the afternoon, a guy came by in jeans and t-shirt with an invoice asking me to take 2 cases of wine for some neighbors who weren't home. It's like a wine of the month club. I felt strange and did not take it. I think if my morning hadn't been so odd, I would have held the wine for the neighbors. I was reticent to unlock the gate for a delivery I had no assurance was legitimate.

Then tonight, we had to take back the fan we bought Wednesday because it had one wrong leg. Our Spanish wasn't up to explaining, "I will just exchange it if you can prove to me the other one has all the right parts." Finally we left with a new fan that we opened up to check parts. The clerk said to the security guard (in order for us to get out of the store), the other one had the wrong "paw", not foot. No wonder they didn't understand me. I was using the wrong word. Such is life on foreign soil - this week anyway.


  1. Wow! What a week! Way to save the day!

  2. That is quite a week. I'd be speculating as to the nature of the kidnapping(?) as well.

  3. Good stories.

    let us know how that A/C works out for you guys.

    find out about the kidnapping and report back what you know.

  4. That's crazy! Sounds like you did the right thing. Hope you are enjoying the AC.