Every once in a while a story evolves into something substantial enough to share while indirectly related to coffee, perhaps this one can save you some level of inconvenience at some point.
Tonight we finally enjoyed an amazing restaurant with a breathtaking view of Bujumbura, called the Belvedere, attention to detail was everywhere including a ride home by the owner, he insisted.
Once we arrived to the secured gates of the Village Hotel, we waited for the security guard to unlock the padlock that keeps crime off the premises. We proceeded to the reception area to retrieve our room keys and made our way back to our building. Upon crossing the threshold of building “B”, I noticed a “security guard” locking the door to my colleague Marty’s room strangely, he looked at the floor while walking past us, out the door of the building and into the dark. I said to Marty” Marty, that guy is just leaving your room”, Marty acknowledged and proceed to go inventory his valuables.
My room was just above his, so I went on my way up the stairs. Interesting, I must have left the light on? Funny, I never leave the light on, but then again, I just had another Birthday so I entered the room assuming it was my mistake. Picking up my laptop, I checked to be sure my camera was in place and went to the courtyard to check email. Marty comes along and has a security guard in tow and asked me if he was the guy I saw walking out of his room. By then the guy had removed his glasses, so I asked him to put them on which he complied and of course it was him.
After a few minutes of this man, the only man in a royal blue jumpsuit within 5 square kilometers of the property, denying and lodging a litany of excuses, we detained the “suspect” and called for the manager. The manager, a nice man from India came from his nearby home shortly. A lengthy recant and associated discourse ensued, to which I suggested we call the police and file a report. While waiting on the police, (who by the way, do not drive, you have to go get them), the locksmith arrived to repair our nonfunctional in-room safes. I accompanied him to my room to repair mine and decided I should look at my valuables to be sure I wasn’t missing anything else. Of course in the travel wallet I keep foreign money to take home to my kids, and the Rwandan money was there, but all of my Euro’s were gone.
Back downstairs to fill out forms and continue the debate into the night. I even pulled the “suspect” aside and suggested he return the money to me and we will let it go. He declined and continued to defend himself. I then reported to the police and manager that the “suspect” has plenty of time to go through our bags in order to find our hidden currency, must have had a lookout or two? And, go figure the night manager had the task of being that person, while the bartender insisted that the security guard/ aka “suspect” was on break taking tea at that time. So that’s 3 potential “suspects” involved.
Police retraced steps, and took statements, then arrested two of the three involved. The highlight of the incident was our driver/interpreter Constantine made the officer and suspects who were now headed to jail, wait while he finished a Heineken to calm his nerves before driving them to the police station.
Fast forward, a few hours sleep, the police call, and say the hotel belongs to Interbank, they will pay us today and ask that we not pursue this any further, and the men will remain in jail on their own accord. News flash from Police-Apparently the men, are working together (go figure) and take small amounts of cash only from rooms a regular intervals.
Money is back, guard is in jail and the new hotel is awesome. Burundi in all reality is a gem, lots of potential for elevating coffee quality in the near future, I look forward to my next visit, different hotel possibly.