MIRACLES DO HAPPEN AND YES I FOUND MY STOLEN PHONE…
After spending two months in Cusco, I was well acquainted with all corners of the city and yes there are shanty places and one of them is “El Paraiso Market” where stolen things are sold. Not just selling but also buying a stolen thing is a crime according to Peruvian law.
On the night of Halloween, while people were grooving at local bars dressed in spooky outfits, I joined a street party to feel the celebration, a bit dazed and drunk after whiling away my evening swilling pints of beer with other backpackers whom I met in the hostel. I dabbed my pockets, just to realize that my phone wasn’t there, someone in the crowd snapped my phone.
With the high optimism of finding it, I rushed back to my hostel to try and track my device through “Android Device Manager” to my sheer disappointment, it wasn’t showing.
Much against locals’ advice, I walked into the Police Station to file a report. The scene at the police station was nowhere close to pleasant. Two drunk young local men who seemed to have had a fight were pleading with blood dripping from one’s chin and other’s forehead. They were spewing blood while beseeching an officer who was giving them a cold shoulder.
As a foreigner or rather as a gringo (a term used by Latinos for foreigners), I was treated much better than I expected. I was offered a place to sit while a senior official rushed in curiously.
Todo Bien señor? (Is everything alright mister) He asked inquisitively. Credencing his tone, I recounted the incident to him in my best spoken Spanish.
He phoned someone hurriedly and reported the incident. Within minutes, two tourism police officials walked in.
After a quick introduction, he delineated the case to the tourist police, who then drove me to “Tourist Police Station” to file a report. I expounded the obnoxious incident which he recorded in a log book and stamped and signed on it.
With evolving hopes, I shook my hand with him before being driven back to my hostel.
Biting my nails, the next morning I kept refreshing the “Android Device Manager” page with a light of hope of having my phone’s location flashed. With fruitless attempts, I braved myself to walk into the El Paraiso Market with no money or valuables on me. I strode through few shops pretending to be looking for a Phone Case. As I entered one of them, I got captivated to one of the phones that were on display, with similar characteristics as mine. Curiously I asked the vendor to show it to me who was overwhelmed to see a buyer. He quoted 250 USD for the phone. He presented the phone as a cast-off device and NOT A STOLEN ONE. As an inquisitive buyer, I started negotiating and we agreed on 200 USD. I then told him that I was out of cash and had to go to the nearest ATM to withdraw the money. He promised to keep it secured for an hour with no clue of what was in line next.
Outside the perilous El Paraiso, I scampered through the jostling crowd on a crummy narrow alleyway where vendors were selling cui (Guinea Pig) meat and fake herbal medicines, before hailing a taxi heedfully to make sure nobody notices my movement.
We then drove off to the police station where his belongings were confiscated after a thorough search and my phone was handed back to me and was driven back to my hostel.
I was deterd by locals that police were unfriendly and corrupt. Well, like I always say, “Believe what you see not what you hear”.