Friday 12th October
‘please stop I’ve left my bangles behind!’
‘I left them under the pillow on the bed when I took them off last night’
‘Are you sure? Give the Lodge a call and ask if they’ve found them’
So called the Lodge. They tell me that all they’ve found is a book but no bangles. Now this Lodge impressed me in the past by still having something that was left behind belonging to a friend of ours from when she visited them the first time.
Stop the car and get out and search all our bags, incase I’ve absentmindedly put them in there, but I think the chance of me picking them up and putting them somewhere else are slim. I inherited them over 20 years ago and I religiously put them on when I pick them up. It is an automatic reaction, habitual if you like. But I guess a kid could have moved them and put them in one of our bags, although the bed was too high for the little ones to get on and the other two were far more interested in being outside.
‘we need to go back, sorry’
Poor Soph and Dom and family ended up grabbing a cab to the nearest town to wait for us there whilst we drove back (in the pouring rain) to the dirt road that would take us to the lodge. In the end they went all the way home. Thank goodness it wasn’t raining on the dirt road otherwise it would have been impassable.
When we arrived we were taken to the room which had already been stripped and the sheets washed. The woman who did the rooms was still there and said she hadn’t found anything. All the other staff were milling around, and some watchmen and the managers came to the room with us as we went back and forth to check. We turned everything in there upside down.
We then emptied out the bus and our bags in front of everyone and triple checked everything but with no luck.
The manager kept saying that they weren’t there and we should perhaps go and he would look into it and ‘by the grace of God’ they would turn up!
Not likely I thought. I was so angry, upset and embarrassed that I could do something so stupid.
We must have stayed there for a couple of hours, waiting for something to happen, although I had no idea what. We wanted to see what kind of interrogations and searches the staff would do but as far as we could see they just sat around on their bottoms! We decided to leave it and go to Green Turtle Lodge, which our friends (who’ve now left Ghana) own just a mile down the beach. There we could talk to the manager and he in turn could talk to the staff who lived in the same village as our main suspect.
The main suspect was the woman who cleaned the room. She would have picked up the pillows and seen the bangles. No one else surely would have gone in to an empty room and searched everywhere, even under pillows, if it was obvious the clients had left. She was a cool customer though. She had a baby on her back and she demonstrated what she had done and was saying ‘you are blaming’ me – all in the local language as her English was limited. She didn’t look nervous. As I began to turn more and more detective I even tried to feel the baby’s bottom just incase she’d hidden them in the baby’s nappy! She wasn’t happy about that!
All sorts of things occurred to me later such as I should have asked her directly ‘did you take the bangles’ to see her reaction as well as asking every single one of them the same thing. In my detective work I noticed that the extra loo roll that we had left had gone from the bathroom. Now why would you remove a brand new (still in packet) loo roll? If not to steal it?! Surely it would be left in the room. I did ask one of the women to ask what had happened to it and one of the men, although I didn’t know which, said he had picked it up when he had gone to check the room and removed it. Rubbish, there was something fishy going on there. Why take it out even if you were checking for something. As far as we were concerned they were all in cahoots. We thought it would be a great scam. Remove something of value, ‘find it’ and then get rewarded by the grateful owner. Well we’re British don’t you know and don’t fall for that kind of thing!! Aubrey managed to speak to the owner of the Lodge, who lives in Accra, who of course was vouching 100% for the honesty of her staff, but was willing to help us as much as possible in finding out what had happened.
Anyway we finally left Green Turtle and made our way home, not before stopping off at the police station on the way back. They were actually a lot more ‘on the case’ than I thought they might be. They wanted to go straight away and arrest the woman and interrogate her saying it was best to act fast. We asked them to delay and said we would come back the following day.
Needless to say I didn’t sleep well that night but decided not to call my mother as the case was not yet ‘closed’.
Ghanaians have a specific way of dealing with things like this and it doesn’t follow the book we are used to. They are tough on thieves and have been known to injure or kill someone found guilty of stealing. Not that that made me feel any better, but I knew that on the whole stealing was not tolerated.
Saturday 13th October
The next day we heard that the police had gone to the Lodge in the morning and so we decided to let things follow their own course before rushing down there. There was nothing we could do there except hang around. That was the Saturday.
Sunday 14th October
By Sunday I was feeling a little jittery. We had not heard directly from the police that they were there and I didn’t want to them to think it wasn’t important to us. So I called them.
They said they had gone to the Lodge but that the woman was nursing a baby so they could not take her to the station to interrogate her. They had therefore asked the manager to bring her in on Monday.
We agreed that we would drive down on Monday either whilst she was interrogated or afterwards to see whether a) they had had any luck or b) they had any other leads.
Meanwhile the owner of the Lodge wanted photographic proof that I was indeed in possession of the bangles whilst there. Thankfully we had photos of me wearing them. Let’s just say that I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t to be trusted and that made me pretty angry. All the talk of me moving them or my children taking them also started to gnaw at my self doubt where I had been 100% sure of myself before.
Monday 14th October 2012
So Monday came. We asked the manager to call us when he was off to the police station with the woman. I got a text at around 10.10 to say they were on their way so we jumped in the car with two of the kids and Osmanu, one of our drivers. We took him as he’s muslim and in the nearby town to the Lodge it’s the muslim’s who trade in things like gold and they will be the ones offered such items. Aubrey had printed up flyers showing a picture, a number and offering a reward.
On our way there I got a call from the manager at midday to say that they hadn’t actually left yet and had the owner spoken to me that morning. I said no she hadn’t. So there we were on our way and they hadn’t even actually left yet despite telling me they had. Arrghh! A moment later Aubrey got a call from the owner to say she had flown in from Accra that morning and could she have a couple of hours with her staff to be able to sort it out. She wanted to do that before we went to the police and asked that we don’t go there until she called. We agreed and made our way to another beach side town where Osmanu knew another trader who we could talk to.
All I could think was how stupid I had been and that even if I thought of all the scenarios of what did, or could happen it never ever happens how you imagine it so I didn’t dare think they would be found as I was sure they had gone forever and it was looking more and more likely we were chasing our tails.
Approximately a couple of hours later the phone rang……..
This week we have been learning to drive……