Some days, you will never forget and tell your grandchildren about until they really get bored of it. Today was one of those days. At around nine we took a taxi to the Consulate of Iran to pick up our visa. It was quite busy at the consulate and when it finally was our turn, our worst fear came true. We were told to go back to Istanbul to get a visa reference number!!! This would mean three full days of driving one way! We decided to give the man the number of the woman who had helped us at the consulate in Istanbul but he said he refused call as he was busy. We took matters in our own hand by calling ourselves. As soon as we had explained the situation we handed the phone to the man. Fortunately, a few minutes later, we were told that our visa’s would be ready on Monday. But there was an if! Our visa’s would be ready if they were granted! We decided to call istanbul again and she said everything would be okay and that we should not worry. Pfeww...
We took a taxi back into town and had a light breakfast. I wanted to get an extra set of beltstrings on my trousers. I passed a tailor on the way who asked if i wanted a cup of tea. Yeah, why not, as i had some time to kill anyway. I asked if they could help me with my trousers and without further questions i was ordered to go to a dressing room and take them of. Before i knew it was sitting in my boxershort in the middle of the shop drinking tea. A little boy who was helping in the shop was asked to put something on the floor under my feet to keep them clean. He came back with a piece of carton and i placed my feet on it. The men suddenly started yelling at the kid and i looked down to see what was wrong. I had my feet on a picture of Mecca! Ooops, the little kid immediately removed the picture and came back with some plastic. That was better. Before i had finished my tea, my trousers were ready. I was not allow to pay as it had been an honour to have a tall dutch men in the shop.
I continued my way to the internetshop where i met an excited Elles who came back from the Hotel. We updated the site and walked back to the room. Along the way we wondered who had the photo camera. Elles did not have it and i was certain to have brought it in the morning. We rushed to the hotel we were got the scare of a lifetime. Our Minolta F300 digital camera was gone! This meant no more pictures for the website, the magazines and ourselves and ofcourse an enormous financial loss.
Completely stressed out, Michel decided to ran back to the tailor, the hamam and the breakfast place but all with no luck. Back on the room, which we turned inside out twice, we came to the conclusion that it could not have been pickpockets, so we must have dropped it in a taxi. Erzurum has 565.000 inhabitants and 1200 yellow taxi’s. Basically a ridiculous effort to start searching. But as a lot was at stake we headed to the corner where we had found the taxi waiting earlier that morning. We had to find an english speaking person first which could work as translator. We were asked to explained that we had lost the camera and describe the taxi. Mmmh yellow, a bit new and maybe a stationwagen. All in all they had still no idea who the taxi driver could be. Everybody in the neighbourhood was questioned but with no luck. We continued our way to a taxi standplace. There we were approached by a man who spoke a little bit of english but apparently was some sort of taxi manager. We were asked to jump in his rickety truck and we started to drive around. We had the feeling we were shown to all his friends instead of actually searching but when we got back he started making calls and said everything would be alright.
After two cups of tea and a few calls made by the manager we decided to head back to the hotel and drive to the consulate ourselves. We had not much luck there as they had not seen our beloved minolta. We nearly started to loose al hope and decided to drive around and check taxi’s ourselves. We asked at another taxi stand and because the guy did not speak english we were aproached by another men. He offered to drive with us to the police headoffice who directed us to the police station in the centre of town. There we were greeted with another cup of tea and had to explain everything about the taxi. Well it was yellow as all taxi’s are, a bit new and that we were given eau de cologne on the way to the consulate. That for some reasone triggerd them. The news was broadcasted all over town. Now many taxidrivers were questioned and all policemen in Erzurum were looking for our Minolta D’image f300 digital camera. As the camera is worth a year salary here we wonderd if that would help the situation. After two cups of tea we were asked to drive with two police men around in search for the taxi. But with no luck. We had to go to the touristpolice and file a report. We jumped in our own car and followed the policemen who gave us an escort.
Halfway towards the touristpolice we suddenly had to stop and were given a thumbs up sign?? Camera okay....they said. As if there was an angel on our shoulder we were told they had located the taxi driver and the camera. How.. we still don’t know. We also noticed a men with a camera who approached the policemen but as we had tears in our eyes of luck, we did not pay much attention to him. We followed the police escort back to the station in the center of town and were given.. guess what.. another cup of tea. We waited and waited and it took a very nasty call from one of the officers to the taxidriver to convince him to hurry to the station. We started to feel a bit akward here and hoped that the friendly taxidriver would not be accused of anything.
Then we saw the cameraman again and, as it could not get crazier, he introduced himself as a reporter from CNN Turkey. No way... but yes way! He started filming us and asked us to say thank you in Turkish. We still could not believe this was happening but yes... after a few minutes the taxi driver arrived with our camera!! We could not be happier. The police wanted to use the opportunity to show their amazing job to the public on CNN and we kept congratulating them and the taxidriver in front of the camera. Several fotoshoots and filmshots later we were asked to have dinner with the policemen. Yeah.. why not... but it wasn’t a dinner with the police but a dinner for just us at the policestation. So there we sat, with a CNN camera in our face eating donner kebab! We were interviewed shortly and filmed driving in the car when we left an hour later. We had our camera back and couldn’t believe it. How unreal, how honest... what a great job of the police! Imagine this happening in the Netherlands.