The travel gods giveth and taketh away…

So, a few nights ago I went to Casa Chicas. It was the bar’s second anniversary party and the place was full of happy people. I got into a long conversation with some kids from the university and met a friend of a friend of Rob’s who kind of intrigues me. All ended well, right?


I went home and my balcony door was hanging open. “That’s funny,” I thought. “I never leave that door open.”

I went out on the balcony–this was two in the morning, mind you–and I noticed my clothesline had completely fallen. “That’s funny,” I thought. “I knew there was wind but I didn’t think there was THAT much!”

My mop was in the middle of the clothing disaster, its green plastic handle bent in two. “That’s funny,” I thought. “I would have remembered if I stepped on the mop and damaged it that badly.”

“Wait a minute…”

The balcony doorframe was damaged. My laptop charger was on the floor. LAPTOP! I looked around…

The laptop, in its black case, wasn’t there.

“Oh fuck.”

No screaming, no crying, no breast beating. After all that had gone on with me in the past month, the loss of my most precious piece of equipment, with five years’worth of music and photos, was…”Oh fuck.”

I called the cops. They came at three in the morning, did a perfunctory examination of the area, told me to come down and file a report, left at three-ten. I went down to the police station and filed that report after waiting two hours in the queue. I had a friendly investigating officer, who seemed to enjoy noticing small details about me.

“Oh, I hear a little bit of a Canadian accent!”

“You went to Burundi. It’s on the first page of your passport.”

“Are you cold?”


“No, you’re not cold, you’re nervous. I think it will be too scary for you to go back to your apartment tonight.”

How old am I, seven? Afraid of phantoms? Whatever. But he made me call my department head, Lucienne, who fortunately has years of experience in getting assistants out of whatever crap they manage to get themselves into. Every year an assistant comes who is like her fifth child…she is a saint.

I had lunch at Lucienne’s, with her very friendly husband and kids. and then I went home to contemplate how I was going to replace my baby. The pictures and music were gone…even if the police recovered the computer, the hard drive would have been wiped. How much money was I going to have to spend to replace this thing? I went down to the corner burger shop. The owner’s bulldog ran up to greet me. I told Fabrice, the owner, my tale of woe.

“Oh, pardon my country, pardon my country,” he said, hugging me around the waist.

“Fabrice, are you drunk?”

“Yes. We drove all night from (somewhere in the North) and started drinking the minute we got home.”

Great. My computer has been stolen, I have to spend a fortune and my only friends are a drunk burger-flipper and a dog.

The next day I was hoping to leave for Montpellier but I have to stick around for Mr. Roth, who wants to inspect the damage. As I’m going to run some errands before he comes, Dad calls.

“Your mother found a used MacBook computer, and she’s brining it with her when she comes to see you…”


After Mr. Roth’s incredibly perfunctory inspection, he leaves and I heat up some dinner. I’m going to bed early because the next day I have to meet Rob at 6 a.m. to go to our immigration-mandated medical appointments in Montpellier.”Jesus, you’re having a cursed month,” says Rob when I tell him about my latest misfortune.

In the queue, we make the acquaintance of a couple of nice fellow assistants, including a blonde American chick named Jessie and a guy named Mitchell. Jessie is a jazz singer! Mitchell just seems like a really nice guy.

We go shopping, go nuts in the enormous bookstore with an entire English shelf, then go to the Christmas market where Mitchell and I speak Russian to the matryoshka sellers– he did a Russian degree! then go to Ikea. Mitchell goes nuts over these little tiny stuffed mice and buys three, so I buy one for myself and one for Rob. We are the siblinghood of the stuffed mice. We go to Mitchell’s flat, drink sweet muscat and watch reruns of the Julia Child show that he downloaded on BitTorrent. You have to be an interesting dude to download the Julia Child show on BitTorrent. He lets me poke around his music collection a little. Suddenly I see something that catches my eye.

Les Cowboys Fringants!

Droit Devant!

My favourite album in the whole world, which I thought I lost forever because of that hard drive…the travel gods taketh away and then they giveth.He has some of “my” Russian stuff too, including Stilyagi (this fantastic Russian swing dance movie). What are the odds?

Early evening. I head to the youth hostel in Montpellier, followibng a breadcrumb-like trail of signs Roger and I had noticed when he was here, to our hostel.

Which is closed for repairs.

Thank the travel gods for Mitchell and his fold out sofa!

Later that evening I go to this jazz place called the Temlple Bar and watch Jessie sing, and dance lindy hop for the first time in five months. I’m not as rusty as I’d feared. and who should I see there but Max, one of the instructors from Roger’s studio in Montreal!

How small is the world?

The next morning I went to Montpellier airport to pick up my mother, which is an entirely different story.



About msmarguerite

Young Quebec City-based freelance journalist. once and future nomad. I blog about life, about travel, about things I notice and every so often about work. I enjoy language learning, singing, swing dancing, skating and...other stuff, sometimes. My heart is somewhere in East Africa, Haiti or Eastern Europe. English, français, русский, malo slovensko, un poco de espanol, um pouco de português ndiga ikirundi, mwen ap aprann kreyòl...
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