Not a Dream to Wish to Come True: A Memoir

Liore Annurelia Sukarma180410170061

In January 2018, I had an exciting opportunity to go to West Europe. I was accompanied by my mother. We travelled by a tour service from Indonesia. There were only some countries that I visited in that region, they were Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, and two small countries called Vatican and Liechtenstein. Every country had its own memorable moments. One of them, that I would never forget, was the moment when I went to Paris, France. Most people were dreaming to go to Paris. I believed that Paris was the city of every good things. The city of lights, love, and fashion. I was expecting to have unforgettable time and memories in Paris. Well, I did have an “unforgettable” moment, but not in a good way.
It was my last night in Europe and my last country stop was France. To be more specific, the last city I had a chance to visit was Paris. It was supposed to be the most beautiful night ever in my life. And I thought that, for sure, when the first time I took my step in that city. I had just come from the capital city of Belgium, Brussels, before I arrived in Paris by night. What people had been saying were true, Paris was amazing. The architecture was incredibly beautiful. The romantic atmosphere was there. Even though the weather was extremely cold, the shining light of Eiffel tower warmed my bones.

When I arrived, my tour guide took the group to a French restaurant in the downtown of Paris. I forgot the name of the restaurant, but it was quite far from the Eiffel tower. The restaurant was located in a small street, which I did not know the name, where there were also a lot of culinary places such as local bar, churros station, and etc. The group and I had so much fun during dinner because we were able to eat French cuisines such as escargot, the edible land snail, and foei gras, the liver of duck. We wrapped it up with a champagne to celebrate our last night in Europe. What a pleasant night to have.
After we had had full tummies, we went to the famous Seine River. Our tour guide planned us a river night tour by a cruise. I meant, what could go wrong with that? At first, I could not even believe I had a chance to do that. It was obviously everybody’s dream. The strong wind and freezing weather, which I believed it was about four degree centigrade or even below, did not stop me from being mesmerized by the beauty of the city of lights.

It was pretty late when the time had finally come to take my travel group to the hotel. Our transportation was a bus with an Italian driver. On the road, I felt exhausted and sleepy because I had explored the center of Paris and it was about eleven o’clock at night. On the other hand, I was feeling a little confused and strange because the route to the hotel was some distance away from the downtown of Paris and it was dark. There were no street lights around the side of the road, so the lighting was only from the bus front lamp. Because it was almost midnight, there was no other vehicle wandering around. I was starting to wonder that why a major city like Paris, the city of lights, did not have street lights on its road? Although it was not a main road, but there were people would passed through it. For example, my travel group. I did not know the name of the road because my tour guide did not tell me. She only told me the name of the hotel we were going to, which was Mercure Hotel. That was also my consideration on why a four star hotel was located far from the city center? Bizarre thoughts were falling into my brain. I started to have some bad feelings about this hotel.

When I arrived at the hotel, the bus directly stopped at the parking spot. It was unusual because it normally stopped in front of the lobby because the passengers had to unload their luggage first. Because my mother and I had many shopping bags, one small suitcase, and two big ones to carry, so she told me to go first and bring the shopping bags only. She said that she would handle the rest. The driver was the one who was assigned to bring our luggage down. Because there were a lot of luggage, so it took more time. My small suitcase was already brought down so my mother decided to enter the hotel with me and we would be back to take the other luggage later. The first ones to get off the bus were me, my mother, the tour guide, an elder woman, her grandson, and a girl about my age. We were walking straight to the lobby when we heard someone was screaming. At first, I did not realize anything until a man from the group, Alan, was running through me and he fell right in front of me. He shouted, “Robber! Robber!” Then I turned around. I saw a lady, Eva, also from the group, was battling with the robber by pulling her backpack because the robber was trying to seize it. I could not believe what I was watching at that moment while my mom was screaming at me to run immediately. Instead of running, my body was frozen. I saw there were more than one robber. They were all in black, black clothes, pants, beanie hats, and masks. The incident happened so fast, probably only for three to four minutes, but it was extremely intense. The robbers escaped by jumping over the high fence of the hotel and ran into the darkness. My conscious mind was back, I dropped the shopping bags I carried, and I head directly to Eva to help her. She was injured. Half of her face was bruised and bleeding because she said that she was dragged on the asphalt. In spite of that, her bag was safe. I brought her to the lobby where everyone was already gathered. I was surprised when I came in, I found that most of the group member, who were still inside the bus when I had already walked out, had red and swollen eyes. I thought they were crying but it turned out that one of the robber put tear gas into the bus! I was furious but in the same time I felt unbelievably grateful because I had gone out from that bus.
The hotel provided us some warm towels and water to calm us down. They called the police when the incident happened. Not long after that, the police and an ambulance showed up. There were not only Eva who was injured, but also some other people who became victims because they fought too. The medic went straight to take care of them. It turned out that the robber succeeded to steal some of my group’s bags. They took one suitcase and two handbags. Inside of one of those handbags, which belongs to a woman, there were some cash worth for IDR 13,000,000.00 or about USD 1000, passport, iPhone, and other essential things. The robbery victims were interrogated by the police. The woman said that the robber was attempting to seize her bag by threatening her with a knife. Then the other woman told that the other robber grabbed her bag by cutting the sling. The police concluded that there were four suspected robbers.

My mother was very traumatized by this tragedy. She could not sleep that night. Her face was as white as sheet. Despite there was nothing bad happened to us, but still it was a terrifying experience. She said that this kind of incident happened frequently in Paris. It was because the economic crisis that occurred around East Europe. The people from that region migrated to every metropolis city in West Europe to find jobs. Unfortunately, the ones who desperately needed money, would do everything to get it as much as they could. She told me that the police would not take care of this problem any further because they did not want the world to know that Paris was actually dangerous for tourism lately. They would not blow up this event to media so that people would always come to Paris.

The next morning, the group should have gone for the Eiffel tour before we got back to Indonesia, but instead, we had to handle the victims missing passports first. They and the tour guide went to the Indonesian embassy while the rest of us had a chance to visit Louvre Museum. At that time, I just wanted to go home as soon as possible. It was surely not my dream to wish to come true.

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