Friday, 25 September 2009

My favourite stories: Number two: Rosey's purse comes back

The staff at the hostel in Cape Town didn’t like guests going out for the evening: they went so far as to suggest that if we went out, we would probably be stabbed. “We’re having a 70s night in the bar: you don’t want to miss that, do you? Half price shots.”

But our group leaders had heard about a free jazz festival in town, and we were determined to go.

The other thing the hostel staff warned us about were the minibus taxis: they shuttle around set routes, and are a popular alternative to public transport. The hostel staff said the drivers were lunatics. And that we’d probably be stabbed.

Our group leaders told us they were fine and about a third the price of a taxi. This made them hugely attractive, as we were coming to the end of a ten-week tour round Africa so funds were a bit low.

So the ten of us hailed a minibus from the street outside the hostel, paid our fares to the driver’s mate and bundled in. The driver beetled us all the way to city centre (not driving much like a lunatic) and we hunted down the festival… when my little sister let out a cry of woe. “My purse. I think I dropped it in the minibus.”

“Oh Rosey, was there much in it?”

She hadn’t had much cash on her, but there was a card, which was a bit more worrying. We went into a large hotel and asked to use the phone. The concierge was sympathetic: “Need me to look up the number for you?”

The 24-hour emergency number for the bank led us into automated message hell: “What is the number of the card you are reporting lost?”

“I don’t know, I’ve lost it.”

“I didn’t understand that.”

We resigned ourselves to a damage limitation exercise in the morning.

“It’ll be all right,” I told her. “They haven’t got your PIN, and I’ll buy you supper.”

“I feel so stupid. And I was really looking forward to buying presents for everyone tomorrow. ”

We enjoyed the music as well as we could: but Rosey’s heart really wasn’t in it; and I felt bad for her. She’s normally the careful, sensible one who never loses anything, so she was taking it particularly badly. The group split up because some of us wanted supper while others wanted to stay and listen in the square.

We ended up picking at snacks in a lively bar. Rosey was thinking about going back to the hostel, and I supposed I ought to go with her, when the other half of our group appeared. “Rosey, you’ll never guess what!”

“My purse!”

“The minibus guys heard us talking about the jazz festival. The driver’s mate came and walked around until they found us.”

The money was still there. “He wouldn’t take a reward,” they told us.

And best of all, not one of us got stabbed.

Cape Town photo by Rosey

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