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  • Four years ago, I was in Paris. The French capital is called city of romance where you can smell the history in every monument and where I cried so many times in front of Napoleon tomb. He was a monster for many, but he was my hero when I was growing up. I could imagine his last lonely days in a lost island after been a unique man with a genius mind and I felt always sad for him. I guess I did not know many things about his personality that could had lead me to a great disappointment and the worst at least for me it was that he hated cats!!
    I went with my sister to relax for a few days to France. It was her first visit to Paris and I was hoping that the magic of the beautiful environment could heal my heart going at that moment through a terrible emotional turmoil.
    We used to seat down in little brassieres in Saint German and looked at old ladies with small dogs and people running with baguettes and French croissants for breakfast and the world was displayed like a beautiful movie in front of us as we absorbed the energy of the city, having a coffee and trying to talk to the waiters in our rusty French. We always had the same reaction of total ignorance to our requests. I supposed not even the manners of the waiters could take the feeling of being in Paris.

    After a few days the magic of Paris could not do anything for me and I ended up crying for my own story and stopped crying for Napoleon and his terrible end. I was in the middle of my own Waterloo and I felt closer to my hero. Mine challenge was an emotional one, but defeats are similar in every area of our lives.

    I had insomnia and I did not sleep for three nights. By the fourth fourth night I was so exhausted that at 4am I took the stupid decision to have a sleeping pill. I wanted to sleep so badly and soon the blessing of a few hours of rest by closing my eyes to the world and my worries did happen. My sister woke me up too early. I was up by 7am and she was ready to go for breakfast.

    I still had the pill in my system so I was very confused and sleepy. She was so eager to do something different that day. I remembered a flea market about 45 minutes from the hotel at the Rue de L'Universite where we stayed. The concierge forgot to tell us one very important thing. This place that I visited in many previous occasions and always had hundred of tourists had become one of the most dangerous places in the city and it was not any warning before he called a taxi.
    The place as I remembered it was full of antiques, nick knacks and amazing souvenirs. We arrived and I felt very uneasy. The place was nearly empty and only some stalls where on display. We were the only tourists and the people working there were not French but they seem to have come from many Africans and European countries and they look really like members of an unknown mafia.

    It was a very hot day and we were tired and thirsty. I bought a few cheap pendants and I kept asking where I could find a taxi. They give me different directions but suddenly my sister and I had the impression we were in the middle of nowhere. A terrible feeling of doom covered us like a blanket of fear.
    The effects of the slepping pill were still in my body and I felt like a zombie. My steps were not steady.
    We started looking for a brasserie to have a cold drink but in this place unlike than the centre of Paris, brasseries were not in sight. Finally the name of one appeared in the horizon and we hurried our walk as the sun was melting our backs and heads. It was nearly midday and the owners of the brasserie were fixing the inside for lunch time. They pointed outside and they ask us to sit down as we waited for a cold drink.
    The street in front of us was desert. The silence was very strange and I decided to forget my fears and to try to relax on the chairs on that outside area where the two of us were the only people.
    Suddenly I heard a noise. It was a motorbike approaching with two men wearing helmets. Everything was so fast that is even difficult to remember. They jump on the ramp so they were at the same level that we were and like a thunder crossed in front of us. The man in front was holding a gun and the one in the back hit me in my stomach so he could grab my handbag. My sister tried to stand up but I realized the danger and I forced her to stay on her seat
    I was naked and vulnerable and for the first time in my life I have nothing. My passport ,my other identification papers, credit cards and all my money were inside my handbag.
    I normally leave everything in the hotel safe but my stress and my head was under the influence of the pill and made me to forget all my precautions and I was strapped of my identity and all my belongings. I felt I did not have control about anything .No money not even for a taxi or anything and in a foreign country. It was a very humble experience and very sobering. We always believe we have things and they make us safe but we do not know what happen when all is taken and you are like a melting wax sculpture under the burning sun and you are in state of shock completely in the hands of God or who you believe into.
    The voice of a black man brought me into reality. I was not there. I was in the worst nightmare of my life but the voice was real. Can I take you to the police? His words were like if someone had sent a lifeline to a drowning woman in a sea of desperation.
    We walked about three kilometres and we arrived to the police station.
    The policemen were very busy exchanging jokes, having coffee and one of them took my statement that lasted for more than an hour, in the middle of all the personal chat, more jokes and more coffee.
    They did not offer us even a glass of water.
    From what I heard I knew that we were alive by miracle because the robbers are not French. They are illegal immigrants and they do not mind to kill someone If they are resisted in their intents.
    They told me they had every day about more than ten cases of the same nature. I was wondering If the nine cases before took all the water and we were left with nothing to drink.

    I told the police in charge I wanted to see a doctor. My tummy was blue because the robber hit me so hard and I was under a state of shock. He asked me If wanted him to call the firemen. I thought it was a joke very cruel. I said I am not burning; I am in shock and I need a doctor. He did not reply and ten minutes later I had the firemen coming into the police station. It was suddenly a black comedy. My sister observing the scene from a distance told me that in the middle of the tragedy she felt like laughing. I was there with all my mascara and my make up down my cheeks and I looked like a terrified panda bear and I was surrounded by eight handsome fireman that looked coming out of a Chippendales show, What a pity it was in such circumstances If not that would had been a sight for my eyes.
    The captain of the firemen asked me what he could do for me. I asked him I wanted to see a doctor. He opened his bag and gave me two panadols. l asked him why??? He replied because they will be good for you.
    Finally the police send us to our consulate and to get a new passport. The woman put a form in front of me with about a hundred questions. I could not remember anything and I fainted .I broke down. She told me later it was ok as they had all my records and the passport would be ready in three days. A friend lent me money to pay the hotel and to live during those days and helped me to cancel my credit cards. My sister and I survived in half baguette a day.
    The moment of taking the flight back home arrived and I did not walk but run to the plane.
    My beautiful Paris with the little dogs and the croissants and lonely Napoleon in a dark tomb were fading and I just thought it was the darkest place I had ever been.
    The memory of the song of Edith Piaf La Vie en Rose became La vie en Noir.

    I never went back and the sound of motorbikes still makes me jump. After all I was not Napoleon.
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