I was in the midst of a lengthy disquisition at last about Gaudí when we were the victims of an elaborate street con that, if we had read our tour guide warnings, we may have escaped. But we didn’t, and lost everything except our passports (thank God!). Here are the shares I put up on Facebook about this unfortunate disruption:
”Beyond upset. We have just had EVERYTHING stolen in the most elaborate street con imaginable. Not our passports, but everything else: glasses (I had on my sunglasses), drivers license, camera, and phones. And we were being so careful! I am inconsolable. We have no money, no way of getting any money (until we get our cards again), and no possibility of renting a car, since we now have lost both our drivers licenses.
This may be the last straw. On top of this, I’m still sick. I’m going to the doctors at last tomorrow, but don’t know how I’m going to pay for it.
I don’t even want to go into how slick these gypsies were….
I think we may just pack it in and come home–but we don’t have a home to come home to.
Apparently, we are too dumb or naive or whatever to be in these countries….”
I just sobbed on the street, and all the way home on the Metro. I think it was just too much–having been robbed TWICE, although we thought we were being so careful, just makes me feel like we have big signs on our backs saying ”Dumb Iowans” or something. And then we have all these other things to fret about at home–G’s dad, our new grandchild who we can’t wait to meet, and worries about what we are going to do when this adventure ends and we can’t afford to live in our Pasadena house just top the list. George was nearly homicidal yesterday, but today we are feeling a little better, as we begin to replace everything.
Since this may be a public service, and so many of my FB friends asked how it could have happened to us, this was my next FB installment:
”OK, since folks have asked, I’ll tell you how this happened. It turns out to be a classic thieves’ trick in Barcelona, and if we had read our tour guide, they even mention this particular method. And it is just a confluence of coincidentialities that led to BOTH bags being stolen with EVERYTHING in it that we keep thinking there must be a reason for it–perhaps to find out how many wonderful friends we have!
So here’s the scam: we were walking down the Carrer de la Princessa in El Born–near the Museu Picasso. Because I had had an urgent run to the bathroom, G. was holding both of our bags. A man came up to us and pointed out that some paint was on the back of our coats. another supposed passerby says ‘oh, dear, you need some water’ and points down the street. We go into a shop and buy a bottle of water and some paper towels to wash it off, go outside to put the coat down to clean it, and put the bags down on the ground right next to our feet. This same guy who pointed out the paint offers us a tissue, and as we look around to see him, the bags were taken in that nanosecond of confusion. The second guy who had told us there was water down the street also walks by at that moment to distract us further. And boom, they’re gone. We feel like such FOOLS!”
Quite an elaborate and apparently well-known scam! These guys are pros, and as several friends said, we didn’t stand a chance. So we have learned and pass this on to you: ANY social disturbance of any sort while on the streets in Europe might mean that you are going to be assaulted in some way, by pickpockets, thieves, or con artists. While you are in a city, never go out with more than you need for the day: one credit card, a little money, no drivers license unless you need it, a photocopy of your passport for ID, and not every pair of eyeglasses that you own, just in case you need them! Trust no one! Keep your bag over your chest and under your arm. If you are travelling as a couple, make it someones’s sole responsibility to have your bags always in their possession.
We have now replaced most everything at great cost and inconvenience, and are still waiting on eyeglasses and a new camera. Thankfully, we were not hurt, only depressingly chastened. So many friends have been so kind and caring and supportive that we think perhaps this is the reason such things happen–to find out that you are a part of a wider community. And, as one friend said, it’s only stuff.
And Barcelonans are so dismayed to hear of this happening. This hasn’t turned us off of this beautiful, exciting, vibrant city. We just realize we may not be savvy enough or paranoid enough or whatever to live here–which is unfortunate, since two days ago we were thinking this would be a wonderful place to live. Maybe if we were younger or more resilient, or more street wise…We’ll leave it to the young!