So I got arrested in Freakan Slovakia’s Kosice town for buying a wrong ticket for the tram ( Old Style Bus). As I was still pondering and wondering how good life must be for the people in the 2nd Biggest town in Slovakia, Kosice (which I’m convinced its really one of those towns out of the radar), for paying only 25 cents for a tram ride to the Centrum ( City Centre) there came the Ticket police.
I gladly and proudly handed them my ticket, they then asked for my Student card – to which I said I’m not a student. They then said ( bla bla shovire shovarakkk krinko krinko) meaning I had bought a wrong ticket as the full ticket is 60 cents and not 25c (which was for students). I quickly pulled out a bunch of coins from the pocket to give her. She rejected the money and pulled a ticket to point to € 60.60, which I was suppose to pay as a fine.( understanding this from some kind of sign language, Slovak and pointing to some paper).
They explained to the lady next to me who could string some level of English together, to tell me to pay otherwise I go to Jail. I calmly refused to pay, I said I don’t have the money to pay fine and also left the passport they we asking me for at the hotel. They were not convinced- I Mean Obviously, tourist must have right?). I have to share my Friends Hulda’s response when I told her about the ordeal : “HULDA: Lmaooo . I started cracking up at that part : @ “I DIDNT BUDGET TO PAY YOUR ASS 60 EUROS”! Like I obviously bought a ticket and it was WRONG! Here take the missing 0.40 and let’s call it a damn day! Matter fact here’s ONE euro! Keep the damn change!!!! lol ( I wish I had the guts to have said that) lol
In the meantime, the guy next to me who helped me buy the ticket at the station sat calmly and said Not a single word as they were interrogating me taking me out of the Tram to go to where I believed must be a one way to jail ( all 3 of them escorting me as if Interpol has been looking for me – the only Black lady in Slovakia Kosice) ( what was I doing there again? I asked myself)
Anyway The Next thing I knows, I was pulling a Justin Timberlake … “ cry me a river” . ( go listen to this song if you don’t know it). “Ka se Kgariepetsa nna ngwanyana wa Motswana “
Meantime I was praying they don’t search my bag because they will find 60 Euro and a passport. Then I would probably be charged for lying to 3 officers.
They were not faced by my Justin Timberlake stunt and got me off the tram to go to the mall where I would have to withdraw money or call someone. I opted for the call – to who? via whatssap of course because I’m not roaming so we needed to connect to the city’s free WI-FI which for some reason didn’t connect to my phone at the time….( thank goodness it bought me time).
There I stood at the front of mall and started begging the African Style ( it worked for me in Budapest when I had forgotten to Validate my ticket in the Tram) , told them I didn’t understand the system as it was my first ride. I even showed them my arrival ticket the previous night. None of these phased them ( The Begging, Crying, Apologies, non-connecting WIFI). I started seeing my story on international headlines: A SOUTH AFRICAN LADY ARRESTED AND DETAINED WITHOUT BAIL OR HEARING IN SLOVAKIA FOR BUYING A STUDENT TICKET – 35cent less that what she was supposed to pay. I saw myself in a character of a movie and remembered Richard Gere on ” The Red Corner” 1 thing I knew for sure is that I was not willing to part with 60.60 Euro for this fine, although I started thinking bail will cost me much more, or detention or My God this is Slovakia, are they still as harsh as during Hitler times? I knew nothing about the systems and situation in this country. But I was not gonna budge. I wanted to see how long they would be willing to stand around and try extract this money from me before they gave me back my drivers licence and walked away or actually took me to detention. Would they handcuff me? what would the judge say? would I even see the judge? or be thrown I jail for good? would I get one call to let my family know – I was really playing a movie in my head – which I think will make a great award wining story some day ( script writers out there? )
At this point my Justin Timberlake stunt worked cos it attracted some 3 young Slovaki Males who spoke perfect English who came to my rescue. Whatever they said to the officers I could tell they were not impressed with the “harassment” .. Miroslav Janik “My Hero” was leading the fight for my battle. Telling me not to worry this will be resolved. Indeed it was resolved in a few minutes ( which preceded the longest 35 min of the day). I was let go with some kind of paper ( I suppose a warning) as he told me I don’t have to pay. He sincerely apologised for the whole drama and trauma and reassured me that Slovakia is a great place with a great bunch of people. They ( Miroslav, Gabriel and Karol ) furthermore took me to the ticket dispenser and showed me which ticket to buy. They offered to drive me where I needed to go instead of getting back on the tram. They told me to ignore the older generation ( 35 years and older as they don’t speak much English and don’t really understand the importance of Tourism) Of course I believe that because my experiences in this city has been nothing but horrible.
First – on my arrival the previous Cold night, when I tried calling a taxi, the phone was slammed on my ears several times because I spoke English. ( until a young chap offered to help and call the taxi for me and waited with me 10 min till it arrived so he could explain to the driver where I needed to go)
2nd – I struggled to get served breakfast in the hotel in the morning – because the older waitress told me they were closed. I asked what time and could here the world ELF ( 11) and the time was 10 min before 10. Except they forgot to set the clock one hour back for day light saving
3rd- some older guy and same waitress from morning refused to offer me a glass to drink a bottle of wine which I had brought at their reception in the evening after the daytime Drama – so I started drinking it from the bottle without stress when they later decided to offer me the glass after all.
All said – I am getting out of Kosice tomorrow – I am not keen on seeing anything else. There is almost a bad energy in this city that I felt as I landed – although the Other City of Slovakia, Bratislava is one at the top of the cities I loved. But of Course my 3 friends showed me there are some awesome people in Kosice as there are everywhere in the world.
I did promise that I will return to discover and enjoy Kosice. Only next time I will make sure I have one of them with me speaking Slovak.
PS. Please remember to Purchase the right ticket and Validate it ( a little machine that stamps your ticket) when you get in the BUS/ Tram or train ( you will enjoy your stay in Europe )