Posted on 09-07-2007
Filed Under (Elation, Languages, France, People, Adventure) by admin

Well, surprise, surprise, another eventful day…

Lievin (The middle officer in the picture above) from Police Municipale said to call him at 10:00 this morning and he would update us on what was going on. We went down to the desk of our hostel and had the woman at the desk call, since she spoke some English. She told us that he wants us to call back in 30 minutes.

So, we called back in 30 minutes, and he said that we should go see the Chief of Police at 12:00. So, a few hours later, in the appropriately pouring rain, we head over to the Police Municipale Station and meet a few more French cops. They’re, again, all very friendly… But it’s really hard to communicate with them, and a new cop, Herald (The officer on the right), tells us to come back at 2:00 pm to find out what’s going on.

At this point it seemed like they were just putting us off, so we told the officer we really had to go to the US Embassy in Paris to get her a new passport, and we couldn’t keep waiting around Epinay sur Seine. He was sympathetic to our issue, and said he would come to the hotel and deliver us a message personally at 2:00 pm.

We, at this point, accepted the mentality that the purse was simply lost. We’d been working non-stop since it was stolen to get it back, but it was time to move on. As we left the hotel to head to Paris, the rain cleared! We hoped this was a sign that moving on was the right thing to do, and headed looked forward to the refuge of the US Embassy.

Walking to the train station, I realized that the big problem we were having with the officers was communication. We just needed to know what they were doing, if there was hope, if we were keeping them from some murder case… just some information. Lievin had given us his personal cell-phone number, so I realized it may be possible to connect Lievin with my Dad (Mon Père) who speaks French. We called my dad on the train to Paris, explained things and gave him Lievin’s number, but as we were finishing things up, we went into the subway and lost connection. I wasn’t sure if he needed more information from me, or if he could call back, or if I would interrupt him and Lievin if I tried to call back… So, we just waited on that front.

The first thing I saw stepping out of the RER C in Paris was a thick bolt of lightening as the rain fell in sheets. It was amazing to finally be in Paris, but it certainly would have been better under different conditions, weather and otherwise.

We reached the US Embassy and there was an English speaking French “GUARD-FORCE” there, blocking anyone from getting even close to the outside of the buildings. We told him Sam’s purse was stolen, that she lost everything, her passport, her money, her license, everything.

“Ah, eeuuu… The passport office closes at 12.”

What?! Why are things so crazy here? Why can’t anything just go smoothly? Apparently the Embassy would be available for us to get what we needed done between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m… And they only tell you that once your there, because we certainly checked.

Sam started crying, Hayley put her foot down, and some other officers went off to try and figure out whether or not it was safe to let in a bunch of US Citizens into the US Embassy… I thought this place was supposed to be our safe zone, or something?

We were waiting in the rain for about half an hour. Standing there, we, by freak chance, ran into a guy our age we had met on the train into Paris. He, “had already seen the Eiffel Tower too many times,” so he went to walk around while his friends were there and stumbled upon us.

Apparently, while they had no reservations or plans, managed to pop into a hostel in the center of Paris, while we were fending for our lives in the most dangerous part of Paris. Awesome.

He left, and a bit later we were allowed in. They brought us to a security check-point, and as I was putting my cell-phone on the table to walk through the metal detector… “Anonymous Call” pops up. The rest of the staff at the Embassy was actually very nice, and one guy urged me to go outside and take the call.

When I picked up, I got disconnected, but called back my dad just in case. A few seconds later, I find out my dad left a message for Lievin, who then called my dad back, directed him to officer “Gregory”, who informed him…


I called Gregory and he told me the news was true, and the bag is that their station. The Embassy security was a bit confused, but finally understood and were happy with us for a brief moment before we high-tailed it towards the train station to get back to the Police Municipale.

It had, strangely, stopped raining by the time we got out of the Embassy… The weather has been an incredible reflection of our luck so far! We got to the station and waited around for a bit. Lievin came over in casual clothes… He had apparently come in to help us on his day off! Herald then came over holding Sam’s bag, covered in dirt and garbage and… blood? It was gross… But inside was her passport, traveler’s checks, plane ticket, Eurail pass… The kids swiped her cash, of course, but that didn’t take too much away from the excitement… We got the exact closure we needed after everything that had happened.

An officer we hadn’t seen, who spoke more English than the rest, asked us if we had a minute to talk and brought us into the Chief of Police’s office. The Chief of Police came in (the officer on the left in the picture), smiling and showed, proudly, a paper weight that said “Washington D.C.” on it. We smiled, and the officer who spoke English began telling us that if we felt it was deserved and genuinely wanted to, we can write a letter to the Mayor of Paris about what happened. The officers and station would basically get a commendation/congratulations for their work.

The police here have been incredible and we explained that we would definitely write such a letter. The Chief of Police gave us his card and personal telephone numbers, so if we were ever in Epinay sur Seine again (yeah right) we could call him for immediate help; he promised he would remember us.

The mood was then light, we talked to the cops, joked around, described police in the U.S., told them about our trip around Europe and that we were students. And we finally took a great picture with them outside the station. It was really an incredible and unexpected meeting we had with them… The Chief’s email address was on his card, so we’re looking forward to sending him the pictures, an email, and perhaps sending the station a thank you gift from New York when we get back.

We then gathered ourselves, and headed back into Paris. We went to the top of the Eiffel tower and ate delicious french fries at the bottom.

Tomorrow, we will be back in Paris, as many sites as we can quickly, hopefully having lunch at my favorite restaurant in the world, Le Relais de L’Entrecote, and then heading to Interlocken in Switzerland. The police may be great, but I can’t wait to get out of Epinay sur Seine!

Well, it’s 4:00 AM here, and we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, so thanks to everyone that helped us through things the past few days, and especially dad for saving the day! ;)

A demain!



Borat on 9 July, 2007 at 10:59 pm #

great success!

Fady on 10 July, 2007 at 11:58 am #

Fantastique! je suis tres heureux pour vous tous mais pour Samantha en particulier! you all did a great job; I am so impressed by you all; and also by the French police, they were truly amazing; it restores my faith in people, police ,and the french in particular; I loved the picture at the head of the entry; it’s great to see your broad, beautiful smiles after what must have been dreadful and scary experience; I hope the rest of your trip will be less eventful!! On to Paris, Switzerland and the rest of Europe. xox

Ma on 10 July, 2007 at 4:15 pm #

I LOVE the photo!!!!!!!!!!! It sums up your attitude toward the whole trip & all your adventures. I am so glad the police got everything back. Will you be able to write a letter of commendation to the mayor while you’re in Europe?

I’m very proud of how you all handled this, working together. You are an amazing group!

BTW, you may be able to find, either online or in a backpackers’ guide to Europe, listings of specific districts in cities that aren’t safe for Americans to go into, esp. at night.
Lots of love to you, Sam, Haley, and Mike!

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