Robbed While Traveling Abroad. Now what?

May 16, 2010 by

Robbed while backpacking around the world trip

Aw, Hell.
photo: phoney nickel

Life is a funny thing. My second night in Logrono, Spain was spent like every night in Spain: going out to bars and meeting new people- the whole country feels like a party.

After seeing a concert at Biribay, a jazz club in town, the international crowd of Logrono dispersed and made their way to the several clubs and bars of the city.

My couchsurfer and a few friends of hers headed for club Stress. As soon as we opened the doors to the club, the beat poured out onto the street, inviting our bodies to move with the rhythm. Due to the hangover I was nursing that morning, I decided I wouldn’t be drinking this evening- but that’s not gonna stop me from doing a little booty shaking with the locals in the gay friendly bar.

Two hours of moving and grooving and it was time to hit the next bar. Our group moved to the door, and I looked to the floor where I saw an Action Wipe. I knew I had one in my purse, how funny that I should see a local product on the floor in Spain… oh… oh God. It hit me like a ton of bricks moving in slow motion. I kept my eyes on the Action Wipe, offering a silent prayer that somehow the people of Logrono were ahead of the trend and already using them, but I knew what I would find as I reached my hand to my side and put it into my purse- nothing.

I rested my head on the cold marble pillar of the club for a few seconds, gaining strength to open my eyes and face my new world. When I opened my eyes I realized exactly what this meant. I have no cash, I have no passport, I have no identification or means of getting money- in a word, I am screwed. Somehow the optimist in me won over in these moments- I rushed to the restrooms and scoured the dance floor, hoping the thieves took the 500 euro in cash and discarded the only thing I cared about- my passport. I checked outside of the exits and asked the barkeep to keep his eyes out after closing in case it turned up.

The camera I had purchased 4 days ago in Barcelona, all my papers, my cash, my ATM card, the USB stick where I kept the copies of my documents- and MY MAKEUP. Take my money, but don’t you touch my eyeliner, assholes. I let the wave of nausea take me over for a second, but realized what’s done is done. I couldn’t turn back time and leave everything at the house (as I should have), nor could I wish my passport back into my possession. I could share some laughs with the Moroccan, Latvian and fellow American as we walked towards the police station though.

The officer said it was best to go home, cancel the card and come back in the later morning (as it was 3am). It is only through sheer luck that I was couchsurfing at this time, otherwise I would have to return to a hostel I couldn’t pay for with quite literally, 2 euro and 45 cents to my name. Stephanie immediately told me I was welcome to stay as long as I needed to sort everything out- which was more of a relief than I can put into words. I cannot fathom this moment in my life without the beauty and blessing that is couchsurfing.

We went back to the house, and I canceled my ATM card, but did not cancel my passport, as I am still holding out for someone to return it. I might be naive or foolish (both?) but I truly believe there are more good people than bad in this world, and there is a chance a good person will find it.  A girl can hope. So now I must wait in Logrono for my ATM card to be mailed from USA, at which point I have to rush to the embassy in Madrid to get a passport (without any form of ID) so that I am able to continue to my dear friends wedding on the 31st of this month. I guess you could say I am stressed.

Then, I looked into my travel insurance policy and realized it (naturally) doesn’t cover loss of cash, passport, or personal items that were stolen. It makes perfect business sense, and I have to understand it- but when those words sunk in, I realized what that truly means for me… no more Europe. In one night, more money was taken from me (factoring in passport replacement costs) than I have spent the entire trip to date. My mind and heart, are reeling.

After Ana’s wedding in Gran Canaria (if I can get a cheap airline ticket) I will be heading out of Europe. I won’t let this incident interfere with my dream- which is to see the world- but I will let it steer me in a new, unknown direction. I don’t know what area I am headed to now, it largely depends on a cheap flight or a boat hitch… but I know that I cannot afford to hang around Europe as long as I had intended to. This means no harvest in Italy, and while that stings- it means many more things that will be more wonderful than I can imagine.

By sheer luck, Stephanie owns The Alchemist and I picked it up this morning looking for a little escape. Immediately the story throws me into a parallel world, of a shepherd who sells his flock to make his dreams of travel come true and is robbed along the way. It takes him on an unexpected detour which turns out to be more of a blessing than his original plans. So, with a little sorrow in my heart, but adventure in my veins I’m playing darts with a world map…

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision. “ – The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho



Brandy Bell loves the world and most things in it. she's been a solo female traveler since 2006: has visited over 20 countries, made countless international friends, and now writes to inspire you to travel, no matter your budget, nationality or experience. Follow Brandy Bell as she teaches you how to travel for free and without fear!