Maciej began setting our 'trap' in the tent and I told him how silly he was being.
You're being ridiculous! No one is going to come into our tent while we're gone hiking for the day. We're in a campsite. Let's go!
Maciej continued to set the trap. A few backpack straps layed out just so, and a few leaves layed here and there...
If anyone enters our tent, we'll know.
Nine hours passed. We returned to our tent. Time for dinner, I thought as I went for the tent zipper.
Wait ! The leaves, where are they ?! Opening the tent, checking the backpack straps, Maciej confirmed that someone had been in our tent. Nothing was missing, though. Everything seemed to be in order.
The next clue emerged as we prepared dinner. As we tried to prepare our traditional pasta dinner we couldn't help but notice that our camping stove was broken.
How could the stove which was fine last night be broken tonight ? we thought. Maciej was convinced that whoever had been in our tent had also broken the stove. But why ?
Tired from a full day of hiking and with the temperature dropping faster than the sun, we went to bed around 8pm. As usual we strapped our two big backpacks together and put them just outside the tent but still under the fly. Our two little daypacks containing our important items stayed with us in the tent, at our feet as usual. Again, as is always the case, I fell asleep with my feet up on the two daypacks.
I awoke suddenly at 10:40pm. I was too warm and wanted to give my jacket to Maciej. But something was different. I couldn't feel the two daypacks at my feet. They were gone. This was very strange. My first thought was that Maciej had put them somewhere else. I woke him up and asked him where he had put our bags.
Maciej was up in a flash. He looked around frantically. The zipper into our tent on was open and not only were the two small daypacks missing but so were our two huge backpacks from under the fly.
Those bags were our 'homes'. We had everything in them. Our camera, film, clothes, toothbrushes, food, utensils, books, stove, everything we lived on for 10 months was suddenly gone. We fell into a panic, but that passed quickly. Somehow waking up before midnight and finding that all our bags, all our possessions (save for the tent beside us and our sleeping bags) were gone was suddenly funny. We were now outside our tent and, looking into the darkness all around us, we laughed.
All we could find around the tent was some of our incense, broken, and Maciej's old, invalid Polish Passport a memento from his childhood.
We couldn't believe it. Someone had actually entered our tent and taken everything. We are both light sleepers and always wake to the slightest sound outside our tent. It seemed so strange that neither of us had woken up. We had no doubt that if someone had walked around our tent, opened the fly, taken our bags, ENTERED our tent, taken the bags from the inside, we would have woken up immediately.
Headlights. A car was driving up the road. Maciej hailed it down. In some ironic stroke of luck, it happened to be a police car. Maciej spoke in Polish, the cops in Slovak and somehow everything was explained.
Within minutues two more police cars came and the area was searched. Within 10 minutes our bags were discovered behind a cabin several hundred meters away. All the contents were scattered all over the place.
We wanted to grab our things and beginning searching for missing things but the police stopped us and told us that the 'hound' was on the way. The police dog arrived, sniffed around and they were off into the park, hot on the trail.
We gathered all our things and noticed that, once again, our camera had been stolen. In addition, our flashlights were gone, but that, thankfully, was all. It was obvious the crooks were not satisfied with just the camera. Every piece of clothing, pocket and pouch had been opened and searched thoroughly. They had been meticulous in their search, obviously searching for valuables or the hidden cash that many backpackers keep hidden for emergencies. Luckily, Maciej had all our cash, credit cards and passports on his body while we were sleeping, while we were robbed.
We gathered our things, the police got our information and they left. It was only 11:30pm when we went back to our tent so we had the rest of the night to look forward to.
We would have left immediately, walked down to town but we didn't have our flashlights and it was likely that the bandits were somewhere in the woods. We went back to bed but couldn't sleep. How could we? What if the bandits weren't satisfied and were going to come back for the cash we had on us?
We stayed awake waiting for their return.
As the sun came up at dawn, we packed our things and headed for the bus station. A hiker drove by and asked if we wanted a ride into town. We accepted and told him what had happened.
He shook his head. It happens ALL THE TIME. They fill tents with sleeping gas, wait for the occupants to go under, then enter and steal everything. We had heard of these gassings too. They seem to be growing more popular on night trains, gas injected into train compartments, but into a tent; this was new to us.
As we left his car he shouted out, You aren't in Canada anymore!
Now it seemed clear that the same people who had gone into our tent that afternoon were behind our robbery. But one question still remained. Why did they break our camping stove? Does one sleep heavier with an empty stomach? Does the gas work better if you don't eat? Was part of their plan to ensure that we didn't eat a hearty dinner before going to bed so that we'd be more susceptible to the gas or are they just so cruel that they did not want us to eat supper after a 20km hike? Were they gypsies who didn't know what or how to use a stove and fooled around with it and accidently broke it? What do you think ?
Let us know your thoughts, this remains a mystery to us.