Going for Ride with Friends

Going for Ride with Friends

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Eiffel Tower Sting Operation

Thursday morning brought us news of God’s unfailing love. Hannah was improving, though she still hadn’t eaten for a few day. After ho-humming around all morning trying to decide what to do, if we should all go out, or just a few, etc, we decided to make a family venture to the Eiffel Tower.

We took a bus, a train, then another subway train, a walk… then there it was… still surprisingly large to us, and rather grand. I thought it would be silver, Hadiah had pictured it green like Kings Island, but it was a lovely chocolate brown color. We had a little picnic lunch on a bench right next to it. About every 60 seconds we were asked by a vendor, walking around with trinkets, if we wanted to buy something. Hadiah said with a smile, she felt at home, like she was back in Africa. We decided to cross the street toward the river to ask about boat cruises/tours. As we had packed up our lunch, we saw 3 men in army fatigues and big guns walking past us under the tower. As we crossed the street we noticed the street had been blocked off about 200 yds down with police cars. Dasen wondered if the president or some government official was passing. We made our way across toward a carousel and the cruise stand, when suddenly we heard six very large, brown horses running behind us on the street. Turning around we saw the vendors running fast all different directions to get away from the police on horses. Most of the vendors looked African and we had been told from some missionary friends we met in England, that they had seen a police man run after vendors too. This however seemed to be quite a bigger deal. We didn’t know whether to stand still or move out of the way. We were standing about 50 ft back from the road, at a corner of the intersection, in the middle top of a flight of large, curved cement stairs leading down to the river and boats. Vendors kept running past us, helter-skelter, so fast that they were brushing us as they went by. They would run down the stairs, then back up, they’d start down the bridge road next to us, then come back running full force with all their wares. It was all rather confusing and alarming. I’d say there were 30 or 40 of them running, carrying their miniature Eiffel Towers and trinkets wrapped up in cloth, and having things fall.

We turned around to look at some vendors who seemed to be unsuccessfully trying to hide out on a landing of stairs, about 5 steps below us. Suddenly men in black descended on the scene and started tackling the vendors. They tripped them backwards and grabbed their clothes. At first I thought they were regular people trying to interfere and help the police. But Dasen quickly explained that they were plain clothed police men, wearing antennae, black clothes and had a band around their arms that said “police.” Some of the vendors then surrendered, others had been taken down and had no choice, while others still ran. One guy darted back to the bridge, chased by horses, saw that on the other end of the bridge there were police, and then ran back between the horses, only to be chased by a police man, tripped and caught. This all went on for about 20 to 30 minutes before it was all over. We then noticed how many people in the crowd had been police, some on foot, some on scooters.

We were all a bit in shock; Hannah being the most traumatized. A man close to us picked up a miniature Eiffel Tower that had fallen and tried to give it to the police who said “keep it.” So I picked one up off the corner too. That little momento will hold more memories that merely seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time. I had planned to go up in the tower, but after all that, we slowly made our way across the river, and up to a viewing point for a photo op. We made our way back toward the hotel on the train/subway and stopped at the Rain Forest Café for dinner. Hannah ate her first meal in 3 days, and we had a rather peaceful ending to a crazy day.

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