Just to give a bit of an update and closure, in sha allah – God willing, on the LP story… things got worse before they got better at this end. This story continued via ‘Hamid because no one really wants to know about a woman’s involvement, especially not a foreign woman. Despite me being the instigator of these problems, I get to walk scot free. (Now isn’t that an interesting expression! – my Dad was a Scot so must follow that up…)
So from my previous post, the restaurant guys still had ‘Hamid’s wallet with his ID card and other papers, plus they had accepted the money for the dog LP. The butcher (apparent uncle of aforesaid guys) had returned from Cairo well pissed to find the dogone dog gone. I am not sure he understood where LP had been spirited away to, because he asked for him back. I can only reiterate FAT CHANCE.
I suspect that ‘Hamid had used a bit of bedouin intimidation tactics to get the young men to let him take the dog, stopping short of turning up with an AK47 of course. But I am fairly sure the young men let him take LP albeit maybe under some duress. However the following day, it was alleged that ‘Hamid had broken into the back of the restaurant the previous evening, stolen the dog and dropped his wallet. It didn’t make sense to me considering they were alerted to the fact we wanted him so had him under guard, and the whole episode from ‘Hamid leaving the house and returning with the dog, minus his wallet took about an hour including the toing and froing over money.
They reported the alleged theft to the police. Police are everywhere here but as a tourist you won’t notice. There are a few wearing uniform but many wear plain clothes, usually oversized short sleeved button up shirts – the main giveaway is the large bulge under their armpit where they pack their not insignificant guns. Occasionally a barrel peaks out the bottom of the shirt hem as they saunter along keeping an eye on the general populace.
There are two departments for police in Egypt – the General Security Forces and the wait for it – The Tourism and Antiquities Police. I am not sure of the differences of the two, but I do know if you are a tourist and you contact the wrong police you will be sent to the TaAP – this includes theft, rape etc. By the time you locate the correct contact the perpetrator is usually long gone.
‘Hamid was picked-up by the appropriate police who took him to the appropriate police station. (As an aside, this has the worst toilet in the world even when compared to Trainspotting’s “Worst toilet in Scotland”! – I saw it once and never again) He spent quite some hours there being interrogated. Aside from the theft, the butcher had apparently not said he wanted xxxLe for feeding LP – there had been some mistake, there was an extra xxxxLe owing! So it was a case of bring the dog back or pay the money.
Well ‘Hamid of course did not have that amount of money on him, surprise, surprise and there was obviously nothing left in his wallet so the end result was… guess what!… ‘Hamid was forced to sign one of those infamous “cheques”. This was actually an IOU, made out to the butcher which the police held along with the wallet and ID. A further catch was this IOU was not for the actual amount reportedly “owing”, but TWICE the amount. It was tacitly understood this double amount would not actually have to be paid, UNLESS ‘Hamid caused more problems – just a bit of insurance to cover extra hassle. “Get you one way or another!” as the song said.
Hamid was released late that night – the police do most of their investigating, interrogating, shifting prisoners around in the dark hours of the night here. This was not the movies.
I suggested that perhaps it was time for me to talk to the police since I was the one behind actually taking the dog and had some of the facts about it like that my friend had LP’s passport, his microchip number and papers to export him.
‘Hamid just said “They are not really interested in all that Linda. They won’t want to have anything to do with you.” He was right, I knew this from previous experience.
“What happens if you don’t get the money?”
“I go to jail.”
“You go to jail! Just like that? No court, no investigation? Nothing?” I tried to sound surprised and failed.
“It’s not about the dog now – it’s about the “cheque” for the money I owe.” How clever is that! “They will first take me to jail in Nuweiba, then El Tur. In El Tur it is out of police hands and the case will go to court where I will have to stay in jail until my case is heard. If I can’t pay I could go to jail for 3 years.”
“So how long do you have to come up with the money?”
“5pm tomorrow. Today” It was the early hours of the morning.
He was not looking forward to going to jail because of a dog! A street dog at that, albeit a special one – often derrogatively described here as “baladi” which translates to “from the country” but really means “cheap mongrel off the street”. Egyptians are real snobs at heart and prefer their supposed status pedigree animals, looking down their noses on us baladi dog owners. But when I see what they try to pass as pedigree, I always think of the emperors new clothes.
I reflected the situation. ‘Hamid had caused me problems in the past and in light of those I could have just said “You deal with it! I’ve had enough.” But I did ask him to help me and while his tactics were different to mine, they were successful – mine weren’t. I am a peace time kid, well spoilt but there are times when “please and thank you” don’t cut it; ‘Hamid didn’t back down from conflict. I reminded myself of my own mantra – “There are no rules, only consequences”. Mission accomplished – dog in Europe. Now deal with the consequences.
From my previous post, you will know that I had emptied my coffers – completely – de nada – so I was again between a rock and hard place. Sometimes living here I feel like a sack of grain that keeps getting passed through a crushing mill. Each time the rollers set a little bit closer – guess it will only be the kernel left soon. All heart. I knew my friend was sending some money but this would take days, weeks even – so 5pm – 12 hours required something else.
‘Hamid and I stress over it almost the whole of the next day. I think we were both in denial that this could happen over a dog! I question everything, accuse ‘Hamid of being an idiot for the choices he made, and I generally behaved quite badly but fact was, I felt guilty. In the end I plucked up huge amount of courage (I hate asking for help especially where money is concerned) to telephone and ask a friend if I could borrow xxxxLe for a short period. Bless them they agreed without much explanation. Some relief!
‘Hamid went to the police and told them they would have the money by 6.30 instead of the stipulated 5pm. They reluctantly agreed. My friend called to say the money machines in the area were not functioning (all 3 of them!)so no money ‘til after 8. ‘Hamid was panicking as he knew the prisoner transport truck goes from Dahab about then and the police would have liked him on it.
I pay xxxLe to keep the police on hold. ‘Hamid calls the police head honcho to ensure he knew that ‘Hamid had given some of the money to an officer stationed close by – no such thing as written receipts here. Just after 8pm I get the remainder and ‘Hamid goes off to pay at the police station with a bedouin friend as witness. It is again after midnight when I get the news he has his wallet and papers back.
Again – right down to the wire! I see pictures of LP and my friend in Europe and they both look so happy. It was worth it. I read the other day “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness has never bought a horse” …or a sent a dog to a better life.