One summer I had the great opportunity to go to France for almost the whole summer. First, for 6 weeks with students from my university, on a study abroad trip I had helped create and organize. This was followed by a meet-up with my sister in France, for a second 3 weeks of travel in France and Italy. Dream-life come true.
The first misfortune of this 9-week adventure, however, occurred during the first week in France when I had my wallet stolen at the Eiffel Tower. I was leading my student group there, and helping them take their photos, taking my own photos, and ooh-ing and ahh-ing as I always do in Paris (no matter how many times I’ve been there), but
as I was on my way to the second elevator in the Tower, to go up to the top, I reached into my bag and, with the most extreme dread, realized that my wonderful plush gold leather wallet with little gold zippers that I had bought in Paris the previous year, which I loved like my first-born child, was missing.
No! No! No! It can’t be missing. This can’t be happening! Right?
I not only loved that wallet to death, but it held the credit cards for the student program I was leading! I was the banker and my bank had been robbed!
I remember believing that I knew who it was in that crowd. That couple, the young guy and the red-headed girl. Suspicious-looking. I was sure they had it. In my public ranting, I even went up to the girl and accused her. Of course, she protested, “No, Madame, I don’t have it!” What could I do.
I was a very, very, very sad girl.
Somehow, I did survive this setback. I had to just suck it up. The show went on, and in the end, the program did not suffer any wear for the worse, only my nerves, as I tried to get new cards sent to me in Paris.
First the cards went to French Guyana, then somewhere else. Finally, I received them during the last week of the program and was finally able to settle all our accounts. Bloody, damn hassle.
After my sister arrived, which was at the end of the program, we spent a few more days in Paris before heading south on the train to Nice and the coast. Since I had come to France for over a month, I had a lot of luggage. I, unfortunately, then had to lug it around for the rest of the trip. This would prove to be the cause of my second disaster.
We arrived in Nice on a crowded train, and were standing in the aisles with all our bags waiting to get off. It was summer and it was very crowded. I had two suitcases, as well as a shoulder bag, which held most of my important documents and wallet.
You can see where this is going.
This shoulder bag had a Velcro flap closure, which I thought to be quite secure. I was sure I would feel anyone messing with me or with it. Alas, it turns out I was dead wrong on this, which I would soon discover.
My sister and I got off the train and took a taxi to our hotel, the Hotel Suisse (gorgeous place on the Cap de Nice, expensive, but totally worth it). Anyway, when we tried to pay for the cab, I reached for my wallet, and, and…
it wasn’t there.
It wasn’t there!
“No! Not even possible! No way! This is not happening!”
But of course, it was happening. It did happen.
Robbed for a second time in one summer! Is that a record?
I felt like such a fool. A complete travel idiot. A Rick Steves loser.
Fortunately, I had kept a credit card and my passport in another location. At least I didn’t have to go through the hassle of renewing my passport and borrowing money from my sister.
I wish I could say the story ended there. But wait, as the ads say, there’s more!
Of course, I was devastated and my poor sister was trying her best to console me. We figured the best thing to do, the only thing to do, was to go to the beach and have a swim in the lovely, ever lovely Mediterranean Sea. That would certainly sooth my sad soul.
So we found our swim suits, changed and crossed the street to the nearest beach, the one which I love so much, that strip of the sea right there by the Old Town of Nice, my favorite.
I went in straight away, no hesitation. Oh God, so nice! Warm and salty, sun blazing down. So I get out of the water after my swim and sit down on my towel. I’m staring at the beautiful blue sea and starting to feel a bit better. But then I realize…I am no longer wearing my silver ring. My favorite silver ring.
Where is it? Did it slip off in the sea while I was swimming?
Not something else! Really?
My sister was happily swimming.
I sat staring out at the water picking up the beautiful beach rocks that make up Nice’s long, long beach. One rock had something written on it. Weird right?
There was a funny little drawing of a man with a big nose.It said “bête,” which in French, means “stupid.”
Mocked by a rock.
I knew the universe was calling me out that day. It was telling me to BE MORE CAREFUL from now on.
I got the message.
STILL. In the end we had an amazing trip.
We even laughed about this again and again.
And, most importantly, I did not die!
Let this be a lesson.
Maybe two lessons.
One: Be bloody careful with your wallet when you’re traveling. Honestly, I should have known better.
Two: No matter how bad something seems, you might actually survive it anyway. So don’t let it ruin your day or your trip.
P.S. These lessons do not apply if you’re kidnapped by pirates and held for ransom, in which case say your prayers because this will definitely ruin your trip.
Power to the Journey