An unexpected occurrence.

With any travel you have to be flexible to allow for unseen events.  Weather delays, canceled tours, lost or stolen items, broken electronics. These are inevitable.  I suppose I should have known that something major was coming up since I had a basically flawless trip so far.

I have to admit now, that I am safe and sound, that I have been posting information purposefully late.  I left France back on September 10th, though it saddened me to do so. The 4 weeks I was in France were wonderful, safe for the unnerved feeling I had while there.  Here is the explanation of why.

As you recall from my previous blogs, I traveled from Dublin, Ireland to Paris, France on a series of buses and ferries. The whole adventure took basically 36 hours, hostel to hostel, with around 20 hours of bus riding.

Well I left out one important detail of that trip.  At some point in that progression of miles, an unknown person managed to slip a hand written note into one of the pockets of my jacket.  The note, written in a left slanting hand, had poor penmanship, grammatical and spelling errors, and the words themselves had the air of someone writing in a language not their own.   It was on a small piece of plain lined paper, was unsigned and had very few identifying features to it.

I will give you the bulk of the text included in the note, however, I must leave out a few lines, for reasons I will explain later.

“Mr. Rettke

We have enjoyed reading your travel entries. it is time for you to go home now.

You can continue your little adventure some other time.

we will contact you when.

Go teach the children in Villdieu Poeles your english and then be gone.

Do not go to the embassy or contact any police. Do not publicize this letter.

We are watching.

when you are home and out of our way you may contact the police and publicize this.

Don’ make us contact you again. “

(Grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors left in on purpose)

IMG_1649I sat in my hostel in the heart of the city of love re-reading this note over and over.  I had no clue who would have done this, or why.  My friends back home, while suspect, wouldn’t have gone to this length, and even had they, finding a 5’3″ wild haired man in the sprawl that is Paris or Dublin, would not be easy.  While I made the mistake of posting my basic plans of travel ahead of time, I did not leave specific information as to how I was getting there, the times of travel, the places I was visiting or when. Someone would have had to follow me quite closely to get the chance to accomplish this goal as well.

I also would point out that while I was not as secure as I could have been, I do have a certain amount of wherewithal about me when I am lugging my backpack and guitar around because I know it makes me a slow moving, easy target for pick pockets and muggers.  I am not as naive as I may appear, what with the “hippy hair” and kind face.  I must point out to my audience that might not realize, but I worked as a police dispatcher before I left.  I’ve seen and heard quite a bit and learned enough about random criminal acts and what not to have a pretty solid head about myself.

I will also point out that the coat which had the note slipped into it, while it does have 37 pockets to choose from, it was on my body or balled up under my seat the entire time I was traveling. Who ever managed this feat was close.  Too close for my comfort.

While the note, as you can read above, is not overly dramatic or threatening, it was mysterious in many ways.  The use of the word we.  Who is we?  The hand writing is highly cramped, slanted and forced looking. To me it reads as someone who may have not been used to our alphabet (the Latin letters), and that it was written right to left.  The syntax was also not what sounded like a natural English speaker either, as you can see above.  “Go teach the children in Villedieu Poeles your english and then be gone.” is formed very strangely to my ear, but I have been pouring over all these words for weeks so maybe I am just over analyzing it.

In any event, I discussed this note issue with my family and a friend of mine back home, I decided to take then note seriously. I went to Villdieu for a few weeks, then rushed back to Paris and flew back to the states in mid September.  I stayed south with family for a spell debating my next move.  I decided, that since most of my funds had been exhausted getting back to the States on such short notice, I would need to return home for at least a year to restock my travel fund, so I started planning my return to Alaska. The summer was over, so there no point in rushing home, so I decided that coming back at Halloween time would be better, and could be more fun.

My friend I had talked to and I planned out a little trick to play on my friends back home.   I returned on a Friday evening, and the next day most of our friends would be at a Halloween party.  In fact most of them would be in the band that was playing.  The band I used to be in before I left, and that still bares, in part, my name. (Minus Ty’d – Check out their Facebook page!) We found a picture of me before I left, and printed off a bunch of card stock masks that we cut out and put on paint stirring sticks for people to walk around with.  We got a few pictures of the band wearing them and people had a great time, as the band explained who I was and what not.

Ty masksNow I, being back in the states for several weeks leading up to this, had time to plan.  I purchased a unicorn head mask just for this occasion.  I came into the party later in the evening wearing this mask, and an inflatable “fat ballerina” outfit.  It uses a battery pack and small fan to blow it up, but is made of fabric so it breaths very well.  It made for a great costume, people enjoyed seeing it very much.unicorn mask

I sat at the back of the room while people milled around, took pictures with me (Not knowing who I was yet) and had a good time.  Then came the costume contest.  I went up and paraded around. Unfortunately I did not win, however, at the end of the winners announcements, my friend went up and stole the mic.  He called for attention and said that there was an imposter among us.  He then called for the unicorn to come up.

Band with masksI was facing the band as he talked for a moment, though I couldn’t hear it all because of the noise and the mask I was wearing.  Then, while everyone was watching, he reached over and ripped off the unicorn mask.   After a few seconds the realization set in and a great roar went up.  I was practically tackled by the band members and there was much hugging and laughing and good times.

I decided to be mum on the reason to my return at the time and instead enjoy the night surprising old friends.  Having a unicorn mask helps with this.  We wandered the night life circuit doing a similar spiel.

So now I am back in town, my travels temporarily put on hold. I do not know for how long, or exactly where I will start again.  I await a response from who ever put the note in my pocket, and have left out several identifying items from it in this narrative to be able to confirm if someone is the author should they contact me again, which should prevent hoaxers, I hope.  This is also why I have not posted a picture of the note.

I will continue to post here, and hope to do some traveling state side, as well as other projects to fill my time, and refund my travel bank, so please do keep in touch.  If you have any questions regarding this or any of my travels please feel free to contact me using the contact form HERE.

Thank you, as always, and safe travels!


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