Well, it finally happened. One of our bags got stolen, from directly under our noses too.

We woke up early this morning to take the train from Rome to Zurich. Our transfer in Milan was delayed, so we took the opportunity to see the famous Duomo (cathedral) there. I stayed at the train station with all the bags while Janet and the kids darted off for an hour.

I piled the bags high on the seat next to me, and settled in to watch a movie on my touchpad. I had packed a couple of cable locks precisely for such an occasion, so that I could loop the bags together and make it difficult for anyone to swipe any one of them. But I didn’t think to use them this time, and was lured into complacency that no one would be so brazen as to steal one of our bags while I’m sitting right next to them.

I think I know precisely the moment it happened. I felt a woosh above me, as if a bird had swooped over my head. I looked up, noticed nothing, and figured the bird must’ve flown away. It was not until Janet and the kids got back that I noticed that my big black bag was nowhere to be seen. There was not much to do but resign ourselves to our misfortune and catch our train to Zurich.

I was angry for a bit, but equally sad to remember that there are people the world over who are desperate enough for the need to steal, perhaps simply to feed themselves or a family. I almost wished that what they stole could’ve been of more value to them.

Of all the bags for us to lose, that was the best one. It held nothing but some of my clothes (except my dirty laundry, which was in Janet’s bag, so I am not completely without), our portable printer, and few other assorted items. Our passports, touchpads, malaria medication, and other difficult-to-replace items were stowed away elsewhere more secure.

As much as I’d prefer to shop and replace items locally, it wouldn’t be practical without considerable loss in time and money, but Amazon.com made the process remarkably easy. The timing is good too, as we’re able to ship the items to Colmar, France, in care of Janet’s extended cousin who we’ll see in a few days. Surprisingly, it proves to be cheaper to have the items sent from the USA, inclusive of international shipping and import taxes (25%!), than to order from Amazon in France (amazon.fr). The world is a strange place.

It also had me reflect on what a remarkable time this is to be worldschooling. Not only are we able to quickly recover most of what was lost via international shipping; but also the emergence of AirBnB enables our family of five to stay places economically and with deeper cultural immerson than hotels afford; online travel tools make it possible to find and book trains, planes, and automobiles on the fly; voice-activated translation programs that open communication between virtually any language; and our touchpads give us a lightweight means to put the world’s knowledge and tools dynamically at our fingertips for the children’s education (and our own). Such technologies were not readily and easily available until just a few years ago. I am grateful.

And so we go forth, a bit more vigilant and wiser for the ways that we can watch over our security and safety in this big wide world.

Below: Julien and I, on the train to Milan, with a foreboding expression of things to come.

Below: Studying on the train