Thursday, November 4, 2010

Italy :: the drama, the prayers, & the power of social network.

Roaming around Rome last week began as any other day. You know, a visit to the Colosseum -- The Palentine -- The Sistine Chapel -- Vatican -- St. Peter's Basilica -- The Pantheon -- Trevi Fountain. I'm talking whirlwind tour here. We crammed it all into a day so we could leave Rome early and hopefully have a chance to visit Verona after the trekk to Venice. That was the PLAN anyway.
After heading back to the Hotel, brother Mark had one thing on his mind... a night shot of the Colosseum. He is way more dedicated then I am because all I wanted to do was sleep. Now if we stuck a bride in there, I would have whistled a different tune, but instead, he set out to shoot and I crashed out. And come morning -- no Mark.
Long story short, he was gone for 36 hours. The only phone between us was on him so I had only email to communicate. Early on, I was more frustrated then anything. Emailing a few people but nothing serious. Then, after 18 hours missing, my boyfriend made the call to parents and eventually through connections and hours passing, I was being contacted at the hotel, by the police, the embassy, and receiving emails from FBI international affairs. Then I was informed The Calvary (Dad Jim and Boyfriend Daniel) we both on a last minute plane to Rome. holy crow, this was intense.

I made a comment on Facebook and within a few hours there were re-tweets, re-posts, and hundreds of Facebook messages and comments letting me know people were praying. All in all I received nearly 400 emails/messages and the support was overwhelming. The words 'thank' and 'you' seem much too common place for the gratitude I felt and continue to feel. Not once did I 'freak out' or stress out... it was more of a calm concern. The times I got emotional was when I realized the love and power of community. So, again, to everyone who offered up a thought, prayer, kind word, email or phone call.... thank you. You truly show me the power of together-ness. A statistic tracker from the news informed us that news of Mark missing generated 12,000+ views and responses



Thankfully the story has a happy ending... Mark is found, and the hours missing all made sense once we found out the reason. He had been drugged and then mugged. Apparently this is happening a lot to American Travelers surrounding the Colosseum over the past few months. Young Men start up conversation, and eventually befriend you... They essentially slip you a 'date rape' style drug and proceed to relieve you of anything of value in your possession. Mark, being a professional photographer as well, had all his gear/monies stolen but thankfully they left is passport and IDs.

The media caught wind of the situation and within hours it was on the evening news, and in the Oregonian.





I also managed to snap a few photos of the drama going down in the hotel room...



waiting








searching




I wish you could hear the frustration as Daniel tried to convince the airlines to let us change our flights without astronomical fees




SO, ALL IS WELL :) Despite astronomically expensive last minute flights to Italy by the Calvary, and the airports refusing to allow us to change our flights without fees (even though we had necessary paperwork), we are all back in the states safe and sound. Now, armed with police reports, embassy reports, and the purchased travel insurance documentation, I am off to write some forceful letters to the airlines that refused to aid...

6 comments:

OHANA PHOTOGRAPHERS said...

go get em' shy! so glad to hear that mark is back safe and sound. much love xo

sara d harper said...

SHYLA!!! I had NO idea this was going on!!!!! I'm so glad you are both ok. Wow! God is so Good! Glad you are home!

Mark Higgins said...

I am so happy that everything turned out for the best! Great photos as well!

emilie inc. said...

Gosh, so thankful for a happy ending. So many people love you and were rooting for you all! Refunds are definitely in order for your troubles- wow! xoxox

deborahzparker said...

What an amazing story:)!!! I'm SO happy you guys are home safe and sound!! BTW your photos are amazing!

carla ten eyck said...

wow. a random late night click on a facebook link and this is what I find you are up to! Holy smokes sister I am so so glad that this ended well for you and your family! Good luck writing the airline, give them hell girl!

miss you xoxoxo

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