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Angels & Thieves; Barcelona

I left Agadir, Morocco in the dark during the wee hours of the morning. I had been there for two weeks studying Yin yoga and Myofascial release. It had been quite a transformational journey inward. A lot got exposed and processed. Maybe I'll tell that story someday, but for now I'd like to keep it to myself.

I arrived in Barcelona around 10am, took a taxi to my airbnb, which was in the El Borne region, met my host, a sweet young mother, Viviana, and her 8yr old daughter. Viviana's boyfriend also stayed with them but I wouldn't meet him until later. Immediately I went out to explore, as I had never been to Barcelona before, and I was ecstatic to be there. I did what I always did, just wandered. No agenda, just saw what I saw and spent the entire day until sundown doing so. I made it back to El Borne to stop in at a wine bar (naturally), ate tapas and had a glass. It had been a very full day of falling madly in love. It was one of the most beautiful city's I had ever seen. I walked closer to my place and stopped in at another quaint and cozy spot for a night cap. Once back to my room I met Viviana's lovely boyfriend, Alvaro, then shut my door to rest. I fell sweetly to sleep to the sound of my host being serenaded by her man. He played guitar and sang in Spanish, as I lie, with tears in my closed eyes at the beauty of it.

The next morning I awoke early to go out and explore. I had only three days so there was no time to waste. I was off to see Gaudi's masterpieces and La Sagrada Familia which blew my mind. I made it back to the Gothic Quarter and walked all around for hours. I then made my way closer to the apartment to charge batteries and have a rest before the evening. Well I would never make it back out, you see I grabbed an apple from the market on my way and ate it without rinsing. I got back, plugged in my devices and lie down for a nap. In twenty minutes I was up, and puking. And I wouldn't stop until 2am the next morning. It was the sickest I had ever been as an adult. My poor hosts. The walls were thin and the bathroom walls didn't even meet the ceiling. They could hear me retching all night. Alvaro went out to buy me medicine, the darling, but it never helped. I was texting with my mom throughout the night. A part of me thought that I should definitely be in the hospital. Nothing had actually come out of me after the first as I hadn't eaten but the apple so you can imagine. A body desperately wanting to rid itself of the intruder but no means for it to leave. It was awful. I cried all night. I thought that maybe I wouldn't survive. To be so sick, and alone, fuck its the absolute worst thing.

I awoke shaky and weak the next day. It was my last day in Barcelona. I went out. I had to. I did what I could. I walked around nibbling on crackers and sipping soda water. I soldiered through. At about 3pm I decided to head back to rest. I was feeling dizzy and was flying to Paris early the next morning. After another power nap I decided I should go back out and get food and try and enjoy my last night in Barcelona. I was a hundred feet from my place, looking at a menu posted outside a cafe in a narrow alleyway of El Borne when it happened. It was like a ghost. I looked up to see a reflection of a man walking past me. I knew. I followed him. I followed him while I desperately ran my hand all through my bag searching for my phone. I had kept it in the side pocket for easy access as I was documenting my every move through Europe for my newly launched blog (this one). However a man in Morocco told me to keep the pocket to the inside so as to prevent someone from swiping my phone easily. I had been so vigilant, but in my strung out state, this time the pocket was on the outside. I couldn't believe it. My heart began to break as I thought of all of the content I hadn't backed up. ALL of it! All of Lisbon, all of Morocco, all of Barcelona! The most incredible photos of myself traveling alone, seeking beauty, finding magic. I kept following him. He knew that I knew. He tried to throw me off by pretending to be talking on his headphones to someone, loudly as though he were trying to meet them. He even stopped a couple walking in the street to ask them, what appeared to me, to be directions. I kept following. All the while still digging in my bag. I had just stepped out of the building, and hadn't taken my phone out for anything when it happened. Was it possible that I forgot it? I was so sick and spacey, I started to think that there was a chance, that maybe I had made all of this up in my head and was being paranoid. I wanted to scream, "thief!" but what if I was wrong? I wanted to approach him, but what if he was dangerous? With tears again welling in my eyes, I stopped. I ran back to the airbnb to look. It was gone. He had taken it. All of it was gone. I broke into a million, trillion pieces. My photos...

Viviana, Alvaro, and her daughter came home. I told them what had happened, and they immediately jumped to action. Trying the police, the find my phone app, which really only locates your laptop, which was in my room but nothing could help. They informed me that this area was really bad for theft, that the thieves all hung out in this square close by. I told them that I looked into his eyes when he stopped to fake tie his shoe so that he could get an idea of how close behind I was. I could identify him. I pleaded with them to take me to the square. I was sure I could talk to him. Give him all of my money. I just wanted my photos! I was out of my mind. They looked at me with the most sympathetic angel eyes. They wanted so badly to help me, but these guys WERE dangerous. Alvaro tried to explain how it wouldn't be worth it, but I persisted and finally we all four! went out into the square. They walked me around all of the groups, and I searched for the guy's face, but didn't find it. I could feel how uneasy they were, thanked them, but told them to go - that I wanted to walk around and calm down. They were genuinely SO sorry. They all three hugged me and went off to have their evening together, while I went wandering, defeated, depleted, and of course, alone.

I'd be lying if I said that I stopped looking for him. But never found. I ended up at the wine bar on the corner of my airbnb. I ordered a wine and proceeded to tell the bartender all about it. He was sorry too. His eyes were also kind and full of remorse for me. He said that it had just happened to an employee there the night before. He was truly pissed. It was really sweet, and I tried to hold back my tears as I kept going over and over it all. I must have replayed it a thousand times in my head, wishing I had done something different. Wishing I would have gone with my gut and chased him and screamed and then I would still have all of the most amazing footage I'd collected, and I'd be going to Paris to continue collecting it. Shit. The shattered pieces of my heart.

I went back and had to write down all of my flight info for Paris, including the bus transit and airbnb stuff there that I needed. We forget how much we rely on these fucking things. Oh I had also managed to lock myself out of my laptop messenger as I changed my apple ID thinking that is what one does when your phone is stolen, only when you try to change it they send a confirmation code -- to your phone, so I couldn't even message with my mom. The last thing I told her was that my phone was gone and she needed to call at&t to shut the damn thing down.

I didn't sleep. My cab came at 4:30am. Alvaro walked me down carrying my massive suitcase down the tiny stairwell. (leave me alone I was traveling a full month!) . He hugged me goodbye. Once again, I saw the sincerely sorry eyes as he apologized for the time I had and the loss I suffered. Angel. Angels.

Angels and thieves...

For the Barcelona album, click here.

You mustn't live so lightly,

Spin your stories, tell your tales,

Let them dance across the oceans

And set the wind upon your sails.

For every truth found on your travels

And in the pits of your despair,

Is a shout into forever

Of "I existed, and I cared."

~ Erin Hanson

Los Angeles, CA

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