I wondered what my first Wanderlust entry abroad would be. I didn’t really anticipate it including anything about being robbed. But fate had a different plan and just after arriving on Baguette soil- I was pick-pocketed.
My flight(s) went smoothly. Perhaps too smoothly- no delays, a good night’s sleep, baggage waiting on the other side, finding a bus to my final destination…. and bam. It was probably that Algerian Laundromat owner who chatted me up in the packed-to-the-brim bus who managed to relieve me of my wallet filled with 200 Euros. As well as my brand new driver’s licence which I literally got a week ago after it was stolen in a similar situation in Chile last year.
Needless to say I had a bit of a meltdown right there amongst everyone, looking around and wondering if it would be wrong of me to accuse the dodgy looking people beside me. I couldn’t even tell you when it happened, let alone who had done it. Some kind lady gave me 5 Euros with which I could get back on the bus since I was being asked to get off and chat to the Police. The Algerian handed me 20 Euros and I took it feeling like maybe he was being so generous because he felt guilty for doing this to me.
I really tried very hard to not let such an incident and significant loss of money get me down but I couldn’t help the lump-in-my-throat feeling. Living in Africa doesn’t help you feel any less hopeless about being stolen from. It was here and now its not and there’s nothing you can do about it. ‘Its just money.’ ‘You’ve still got your passport.’ ‘It could have been worse.’ ‘Don’t let this ruin things.’ That’s what I was telling myself while trying to avoid feeling like absolute shit for too long.
Where I was trying to get to was a place called ‘Juan les Pins’ about 3km along the coast from Antibes. I had arranged, via Couchsurfing, to stay with a guy who had said it was fine to do so. His Couchsurfing profile led me to believe he wasn’t a serial killer since it had tonnes of positive reviews from previous surfers. The place instantly reminded me of my apartment in Santiago: somewhat rundown and rented out by young foreigners.
My host is Indian. Born and bred. He’s a doctor of Robotic Engineering and somehow manages to not be a complete nerd. His sister is also staying here at the moment and together they make wonderful hosts. As it turns out, Mandar is an amateur ‘slackliner’- if that’s even a word. So in the late afternoon we went out, set up the slackline between two trees and in front of old people playing boules, and taking turns, tried to balance/walk along it. While I might be poor in terms of money, how could I not consider myself culturally rich if I was in the South of France, watching the elders play boules, partaking in what I originally thought was a hippy pastime with my new Indian friends?