First stop upon arriving in Barcelona: Parc Guell. My brother from another, AX, worked there. He very kindly offered to let me stay at this dad’s apartment (his dad lives full-time in Argentina) so I needed to get the keys from him. It had been four years since we last saw each other so when I spotted him I couldn’t help but let out an excited squeal. He was taller than I remembered; his hair longer and curlier, and his face…a little weary. I guess 21-year-olds get older, too. His break was coming up and we agreed to meet at the playground. Half an hour later we were laughing on the bench, teasing each other about how much the other has aged. He passed me the keys and went back to work. I hailed a taxi to take me to the apartment, and the entire journey I was absolutely bursting with happiness that I was back in Barcelona and seeing AX again.
For a reason I could not comprehend, after paying the driver, instead of placing my travel wallet back into my messenger bag like I usually do, I decided to hold on to it. I remember thinking, I’ll put it back into my bag later. I grabbed my change, grabbed my bags, and got out. I stood on the pavement for at least three minutes as I snapped a few photos of the street.
Finally I was ready to cross the street to the apartment and realised that I was not holding something I should have been holding: my travel wallet. I rummaged through my bags over and over to no avail. I had to concede defeat. I had, indeed, left my travel wallet in the taxi. My travel wallet that contained 500 euros, my credit card, my company credit card, my passport (!!!), and the apartment keys. I think my heart stopped.
There was a gym underneath the apartment and I ran in to ask for help. The ladies there spoke minimal English, and that was when the Spanish SIM card I had bought at the airport came in handy. Google Translate is a lifesaver! They both screamed when they read the translation of “I left my wallet in the cab” which made me feel even worse. They asked if I had gotten a receipt. No. Did I know which taxi company I used? It was yellow… But all taxis in Barcelona are yellow! FML. They called the lost-and-found number of the city of Barcelona (there’s such a thing) and related the matter to the person on the phone. They were advised that since I had no details of the taxi, unless the driver or the next passenger returned it, there were few chances of getting my stuff back. Great!
My only concern at this point was my passport. I could deal with losing everything else. Sure, losing money and credit cards would suck, but it would not have been the end of the world. Money is….whatever. Money. Replaceable. And credit cards I could cancel. But without my passport, would London allow me back in? What if they wouldn’t and I had to miss my company anniversary party? The party was the only reason I was back in Europe two months since my last trip. (My lovely boss granted my request of a couple days off before the party for a mini-vacay, hence Barcelona.) I had bought a new dress and a floral headpiece especially for the party, and now I was facing the possibility of not even being able to attend it. It was a Saturday and the Singapore consulate was closed so it wasn’t like they could help!
After a whole hour of alternating between standing at the end of the street looking out for the taxi, and standing at the reception of the gym watching the ladies make various phone calls, I decided to sit on the kerb and wait. Early on in my street-watch, I approached a guy who was adjusting his shoe and explained my problem to him. I don’t know why I did that. The gym ladies were already trying to help. I guess I needed another person to vent to. He spoke English, which made the venting more satisfying. He too made several phone calls and then he really had to go, but not before passing me 20 euros and his number – “You need to tell me what happens!” I scolded myself for being stupid and hoped and prayed. What else was there to do?
At ten minutes in, I saw a taxi pull up at the top of the street. The driver got out and I thought he looked familiar. I bolted upright and walked towards him. And then I started running. It was him. It was the driver of the taxi I had been waiting for. “It’s you!” I shouted. “It’s me!” he replied. He said some French passengers he had picked up after me found my wallet. (“You’re lucky it wasn’t Spanish people who found it!” Haha.) He had to open my wallet to try and identify me but assured me that he took nothing. It took him a while to recall where he had dropped me off. He had driven all the way from the centre of town to drive back to me so he asked me to pay him for the journey. I gladly did just that plus some extra. He was kind of a dick during my taxi ride, and he was still a dick when he was asking me to pay him, but I was too grateful to care. He began to soften and cautioned me to be more careful, and he even gave me his number in case I needed help during my stay.
I hurried back into the gym with the good news and the lady at the reception kept exclaiming, “Gracias a Dios!” Gracias a Dios, indeed. The other lady had finished her shift and left, so this lady called her with the update. She was so happy for me. I couldn’t believe how invested these people were! It was amazing. I got into the apartment and had to sit down without moving for a while. Too much excitement already and I had only been in Barcelona for four hours!
I waited too long to move again and my 14 + 2 hours of flying + 1 hour and some of stress caught up with me. I had zero energy left. AX was working late, and shoe guy had gone out of town. Going out? Too much effort. I decided to order takeaway (you gotta love those Deliveroo types) and ate my dinner on the balcony. Yes, I stayed in on my first night in Barcelona. Just kill me, please. Sometime later I fell asleep at 9pm while the sun was still out. When I woke up again it was 11pm and dark outside. I switched off the lights and continued sleeping until the morning.
My first day in Barcelona was a bust.