The Ectasy and Misery of Travelling

After spending three amazing days wandering the streets of Barcelona I walked along Via Laietana in the Gothic Quarter when a friendly Spanish gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Do you know your bag is open?” I immediately knew what it meant as I took off my backpack and stared into my empty bag and gasped. My three money cards, my hotel keycard, the €200 I’d just taken out of a cash machine, my driver’s licence and my passport were all gone.  The man said, “Is OK?”, I replied, “No, is not OK, my wallet is gone”, he just shrugged as if to say, “Oh well, that’s life, wadda ya gonna do”, and walked off leaving me welling up, thinking, “exactly WTF am I gonna do!” I was supposed to catch a 7am train to Alicante the next morning. I wasn’t far from my hotel so I started back to begin the card cancelling process and to ring the Australian embassy.  In a split second I had gone from thinking, “I love you Barcelona, I want to live here”, to “f*#@! you all, you thieving bastards, I hope you choke on your churros!  I want to go home!”  Needless to say it really threw me, I felt alone, vulnerable and violated.  Then I started to get angry with myself, firstly for buying a backpack style handbag and secondly, how could I be so stupid and arrogant to think, “Oh it would never happen to me.  There’s no way I wouldn’t feel someone touching my bag.”

I got back to my hotel and told the guy on the front desk who was wonderful.  He was sympathetic and helpful, he tried calling the Australian Consulate in Barcelona for me (unfortunately they were closed), he gave me the number for the embassy in Madrid and the address for the nearest police station to make a report.  I instantly fell in love with him and thought to myself, “I love you handsome Spanish guy, I want to marry you, even though you’re probably young enough to be my son.”  I went to my room and started calling to cancel my cards, thankfully none had been used, they probably didn’t need to because the f*#@ers had €200 in cash!  I called the Australian Embassy in Madrid,  luckily they were still open, and arranged an appointment at the Barcelona Consulate for the following morning to apply for a new passport.  After making all the calls, I felt slightly better and more in control, and that I would eventually get through this.  I sat back and had a little cry, then trudged off to the police station to make a report.

I got to the police station and joined the queue.  I’m not sure if they all were there for the same thing but the guy in front of me was also a foreigner and was also there making a report about being pickpocketed.  All of a sudden I realised this wasn’t personal after all, and shit sometimes just happens, so just suck it up princess.  The police helped re-enforce this as there wasn’t so much as a flicker of concern or surprise, and why should they, I’m sure this happens all too frequently.  My case wasn’t special in any way and my Buddhist friend Benchawan, would be proud of me for my acceptance of the pile of shit life had just given me and that I was moving on from it.  It made me feel a little stronger and I didn’t want to go home because despite the shitty parts, I still love travelling.

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