I usually only run the bulls once during a trip but since I didn't get into the bullring, I decided to take another try at it. I woke up the two Australian guys in the room next to mine. They were hesitant the night before about running but by persuasiveness won out. I needed to get money out of an ATM so grabbed my wallet. We made the long trek towards Pamplona's City Hall. I pulled out some money before we made it to the course. We were running a little late and so there was a huge group of people in line trying to get onto the course. The police began to close the gates and the crowd charged the gate. I was crushed in a sea of humanity. I pushed back trying to reclaim some personal space but it was hopeless. The gates were closed to the course and the crowd began to disperse back into the streets.
By habit, I checked my pocket for my wallet. It wasn't there.
Come on. Where is it? Check the ground. Check the pockets again. Look Singh- where is it? I find the guy from the apartment and ask him if he saw anything. I knew the answer but I asked anyways. OK. What was in the wallet? Damn it, I just took out money. Why didn't I wait till after the run? Come on. You know better. Pamplona during festival is teaming with pickpockets. What else? Credit cards gone. Agghhh. My debit card to my main account. I can't get out money! OK. Take it easy. Should I try to get onto the course? It is my last chance to run this year. No. Be responsible- cancel the cards. You know the pickpocket is rushing to use them. You need to beat him to the punch. No. What about the run? OK. Help the Australians get on the course, it is their only chance. They will never come back again. You will be back another year.
I gave the Australians some advice on how to sneak onto the course and sent them on their way. I hopped a bus and went back to the apartment. I pulled out my computer and made my Skype calls to cancel my credit cards. All of them were canceled before they could be used. My credit card company later let me know someone tried use the card 30 minutes after they were canceled. I beat them. They only got the money. The hassle now was getting to Paris and getting my new cards. I have a second debit card that is never in my wallet that has a small amount of money for this type of emergency.
I kept beating myself up for being so careless as I went back into town to meet everyone who ran that morning. I have been robbed in Spain before and I should know better. I have been to over forty countries over twenty years of traveling and only in Spain have I had trouble. My friends jokingly have said for years that Spain is out to get me. After seven months of travel, I became too comfortable with traveling and I let down my guard. It was a good reminder to always stay vigilant in different surroundings.
The group of people I was hanging out with was very generous when they heard about my predicament. Victor didn't charge me for my last night at his apartment. Others took care of my meals and drinks for the day and the next morning.
Pictured: Supporters in my time of need-Christina and Pablo.
An older Irish guy I was hanging out with, Sean, gave me 50 Euros and told me to keep it just in case. At first I refused. He then asked if I ever had helped travelers out on the road. I told him that I had on a number of occasions. He put the 50 Euro note back in my hand and said, "Then this why you should take it this time. Plus, I am only going to use it for drinks tonight if it is in my pocket. You might need it down the road."
Pictured: Sam, Tommy and the very generous, Sean.
That night Chubby Checker gave a free concert in the main square. It was an incredible show. The next afternoon, I made my way to Paris. I took a train from Pamplona to a small city at the edge of France. From there, I was to head to Paris by an overnight train. When I got to France and was ready to buy my ticket to Paris, I found that I was short 70 Euros. In the end, I needed Sean's 50 Euro note. I was explaining my situation to a few other travelers and two older American women gave me 15 Euros and an 18 year old Australian student gave me the last five I needed. I was on my way to Paris!
Pictured: Australian student donates 5 Euros to help me get my train ticket.
I made it to Paris in time for Bastille Day. Since I met my parents there, I was fine for money until my credit cards were delivered to me. My cards were brought to me by my friend, Michael, who was meeting me in Turkey ten days later. There is something to be said about karma.