Bandits of Barcelona

Retrospectively my priorities were probably somewhat skewed, but I remember experiencing a strong sense of loss for the chocolate that was in my bag. Admittedly it wasn’t any ordinary chocolate, but a chocolate with the pinnacle percentile of cocoa, which is 78 by the way, as well as the promise of zesty pieces of orange, but the benefit of hindsight has allowed me to see that the theft of my passport, phone and money should probably have been what inspired this acute sense of distress.

I say theft, but for all I know my bag could have fallen into a wormhole, as I never caught it in the act of disappearing. I had committed backpacking’s cardinal sin, which is to put all of your important documents and valuable possessions in a small, and easily stealable, rucksack. Five weeks of trouble free travel had made me overconfident, and with only three days left of my trip I was sure that nothing could go wrong, however, the beautiful beaches of Barcelona clearly had other ideas.

I watched in the people passing by on the beach in utter bemusement, I had only taken my eyes off my bag for a second and it had seemingly vanished. I tried to gauge some likely suspects from those walking towards the steps that led away into the city, could it be the shifty looking man sporting a pair of yellow budgie smugglers? It was doubtful, his swimwear left very little to the imagination and certainly didn’t have space to stow a bag. Perhaps it was the doddering old couple who had clearly spent a large proportion of their life on the beach? Unlikely, although they probably should have committed a similar act twenty years ago and spent the proceeds on the sun cream that their leathery bodies had obviously been deprived of.

Unable to spot my bag bobbing away in the distance, I did the predictably futile thing and reported the theft at a police station, they assured me that if any of my possessions turned up, they would contact the hostel that I was staying at. My next action was to get a temporary travel document from the British embassy, who I quickly discovered were very unsympathetic to theft and were of no real help without money.

Fortunately for me, I still had a few euros in the pockets of my shorts which the thief hadn’t deemed worthy of inspection and after explaining the situation to my hysterical mother at an internet café, I was able to arrange a Western Union transfer. The embassy seemed to be a lot more understanding when I was passing them an exorbitant fee for something that would only let me fly once.

A few days previously I had passed a beggar who had a sign that stood out to me, it read “Passport and money stolen, need help to get home.” Initially I thought this was simply a clever ploy, but when I saw him again as I was walking back to my hostel I gave him my most compassionate look and placed a few of my meager coins into his plastic cup.

Apart from the slightly humorous thought of someone somewhere swearing that they were born on the south coast of England twenty three years ago in what I imagine to be thickly accented and heavily broken English, losing all of my lost valuable possessions was an extremely inconvenient and tiresome event and I never did find another bar of that chocolate.

Written by: Hugh Tucker

Hugh Tucker picHugh Tucker was born in 1993 in England and after attaining a degree
in politics he began traveling and writing as much as possible. He
previously owned and ran a music review website and now writes
travel articles and works of fiction.

Photo Credits: Hugh Tucker

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  1. Having just returned from a trip that began in Barcelona I can easily understand how you ended up in that situation. Being significantly older and former New York City residents we were more wary of strangers and more cautious with our belongings. That being said, Barcelona seems such a friendly and open city it is not difficult to be lulled into a momentary sense of security. I do hope this will not put you off future adventures!

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  2. Yes, stuff happens while traveling — or anywhere in your home town. Personally, I always lock up or hide my passport and walk around with photocopy. I also carry credit cards numbers if they get lost.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading your article! Although what happened to you was far from being funny, I couldn’t help giggling until the last sentence! I cannot wait to read more about your adventures and hope some of your other writings will be published soon!

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