The One With Europe ’11 Day 9 – Disasters From Marrakech To Madrid

Plaza del Sol

Woke up from an unsettling slumber (the wind was howling through the medina and I kept thinking someone was knocking on my window in the middle of the night) to a rainy morning in Marrakech. Despite the gray sky and wet everything, I was grateful for the weather to have hold itself up for the past couple of days as I made my way through Fez, Meknes, Essaouira and Marrakech.

Breakfast was an unhurried affair in the courtyard of Darr Attajmil, with the waiter-slash-hammam man, Brahim, served me endless cups of coffee. After checking out he led us to a taxi which will take us to the Aeroport some 12 km away for 80 dirhams. Which was fine, until the driver tried to extort another twenty dirhams from me “for the luggage”. But unlike the naive me who got conned for some cobra photos, I gave him a disgusted look, said no and firmly turned away.

Yay me… until an hour later when I discovered that my Easyjet ticket to Madrid was booked for the day before! I panicked, and immediately tried to purchase another ticket for the same flight today. It cost me another 1500 dirhams, but I was grateful I didn’t make the shocking discovery only upon checking in. I was also happy that I had the girls with me, whom seemed to have gotten used to the careless me and helped me to sort things out. Thank god for small mercy, that’s all I had to say.

At the custom the officer flipped through my passport and casually asked for my Spanish visa. Second panic of the day! What visa? I said I didn’t need a visa, and he raised an eyebrow before sauntering off to see someone else. I was panicking right there at the counter, couldn’t believe how screwed up I was. But all was well, I was waved through… though there was a disquiet in me that I may need a visa to enter Spain.

Of course, like many things I worried about in my life, my fear was unfounded. The flight to Madrid by Easyjet was miles better than Ryanair. After a fuss free check in, the journey from the airport to the hostel, located at Plaze de Opera, was somewhat long but not difficult. The hostel itself was bright and cheery. I was sharing room with three ladies, two whom are Koreans (I assumed from the books they are reading), but as I was staying only for one night, I didn’t make the effort to be friendly apart from the hellos and byes.

Later that evening I ventured into Arenal, a wide pedestrian street stretching between Opera and Sol metro stations. Immediately I realise that my flimsy Giordano turtleneck, why in a colour I love (purple), would not be thick enough to keep me warm. After trawling through some shops along Arenal, I settled for a cool looking but a size too small black wool jacket from Celio.

Hey, you would suffer for fashion too.

Dinner was seafood paella (I learned that the yellow colouring came from saffron, one of the most expensive spices in the region) and beer. Beer! Oh how much I miss you. After a drought of alcohol in Morocco, the pint over dinner was almost welcome.

After some probing into the state of lethargy that I was in, I decided to throw caution into the wind and went for a night out at Chucea.

Then disaster striked.

It was only eleven when, after venturing into some decidedly unfriendly pubs and clubs, I decided to head home. I was consulting my snap of the local map (I didn’t want to carry around my Lonely Planet at the clubs) on my iPhone, a man stopped me and started to jabber at me in rapid Spanish. I thought he has been drunk as he was holding a cup of what looked like red wine. I told him I don’t speak Spanish, and in the state of overfriendliness I was in (the demenour I put on when I go to clubs, alone), I asked him where was the metro station. He took his time to point the way, which I suspected about. Then when I tried to leave, he kept talking to me. A car passed by with a group of yelling teens, and I briefly looked up, somewhat distracted.

It must have been then when my iPhone got lifted from my pocket.

As I walked away firmly from the man, some twenty steps down the road I realised my pockets were empty. I didn’t bring out my passport (thank God), and I kept my wallet inside my new jacket. Only my phone was in the front pocket, and to my shock I realised I must have been a victim of a pickpocket. I quickly retraced my steps to the spot, but of course the man was gone. I looked on the ground in case I dropped my phone, but it was late at night and I couldn’t see any signs of it.

I was beyond devastated. The iPhone, apart from containing many personal information, was my one lifeline to my life on the go. After making my way to the hostel, I immediately logged online and changed all my important passwords – Google, Facebook, Dropbox – and then alerted my friends in Hong Kong to help me to cancel the line. Many speculated on what happened to my phone, some even called but to no avail despite the ringing phone.

It was close to three o’clock in the morning when I finally accepted defeat and the fact that my iPhone is gone. Less than a year into service. Tomorrow I will go to make a police report to claim for insurance. With a troubled mind over what the thief can do with my personal data (SMS-es, WhatsApps, and other apps can have discriminating information), I went to sleep.

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