I f I wasn’t so preoccupied with spatial relationships, I would have noticed. Land and my approaching ferry: the pedantic muse, awaken from an hour of drinking hot whiskey, distracting my traveler’s vigilance over my things. While I ponder and equate distance and time at the bow of the boat my passport, money, shoes, save my backpack and damp dirty clothes bunched tightly in a plastic bag, were being lifted by the clever visitors that took their time leaving me helpless in a nearing Croatian city, Porec.
I wish I can bring time back to not drink — scratch that — keep my stuff with me, strap it on my back and look like the backpacking vagabond.
”A bar hidden from the town center comes into view as I leave the creepy bar’s entrance.”
As we docked I walked back to see my bag zipped up and in its place as I left it. But as I pulled it up to my shoulder I felt the sudden weight change. And as I quickly turned it around to feel it from the outside, my hand went straight towards the back dispelling the air out from the tiny opening at the zipper. No thoughts came to my mind as I peeled back the zipper. The air-tight white bag full of my dirty things just sat at the bottom of the bag like a self-acclaimed prize. “Fuck,” exhaled softly from my lips.
My heart began to race and my chest tightened. What to do now. I scanned the faces around me, ready to pommel the second glance coming my way. But nothing. The little kids ran to the bow, calling for their parents to watch the men tie the rope on the thing. Old ladies too stiff to get up and gather their things, looked stoically down to the land. Couples too busy kissing and looking forever back over the water from where they came from. Even the shady teenagers looked too sleepy to steal my things. No one fit the profile of my thief. Whatever profile that may be. The crowd only moved forward the boat, readying to disembark. I just wanted to hold them back. Search their pockets. Rummage through their stiff plastic bags. I just stood watching the backs of the innocent, stood watching helpless and pissed.
The sun was setting and night and its complete unrelenting blackness was diffusing with my quiet hysteria. I ran to one of the men that worked on the boat, explaining my loss of resources. He just said in his broken English that he’d call the police but there is anything that they can do other than write a report. I knew the drill, police are people, limits bordering humanity’s ability even if they wore the badge and carried a gun—no use crying anymore to myself or to anyone else…my things were gone. Absolute idiocy on my part, I’m the fool. I checked my pockets, feeling one empty, the other nothing, my back pocket nada, but the last one, a familiar shape, solid, flimsy, a card, my credit card. Thank you, Zack for being so disorganized.
Before boarding I had taken the cards out my wallet to see what credit cards will be used on this trip. Laid them out on the table to visualize my spending, but because I began this budget plotting to late I had to stuff my cards quickly back into my wallet while I ran to embark onto the ferry. And the card that I have right now is the card that was left out from the wallet that was placed in that stupid bag. Thank you, Zack!
My plastics were my resources for this journey. I had the Extra Emergency Card tucked away and left in my wallet, which is now lost!; the MasterCard with a limit of $350, lost; the Visa with a limit of $800, lost; and my debit card (the card that conveniently wasn’t inserted back into my wallet) with most of my travel cash, a whopping $450 which would have semi-comfortably sustained me for the already budgeted week of my journey, the visa and MasterCard would have been be used, in theory, for the remaining three weeks. But now with the only remaining plastic tucked safely in my pocket, I have enough for a hostel tonight, food and the basics for the week. Great! I already was on a shoe-string now I’m just on a thread.
My passport, a surfacing terror. Bumps. Expected detours. I have to go to embassy tomorrow. Will there be a delay? I hope not. I won’t make it through the trip if there is a delay.
I can call my parents… I have to call my parents. Wire me some money. Call the cards, cancel them. Call my flight to reissue another ticket… Oh no!..a fee. I remember that. Great. But that’s not now. I can wait I have four weeks. Now is Porec. A city of marble sidewalks, seaside restaurants /hostel (one that gave me a great deal; I think my countenance gave her clues to be nice to this stupid American) and inspiring coastal winds. After finding a place to crash and somewhere to drop off my emptied backpack, I take a walk to find an ATM to pay my hostel lady. I follow the stream of people heading toward the path tracing the coast.
I can see star-like lights from freighters or cruise ships on the horizon of the water. I wish I can bring time back to not drink — scratch that — keep my stuff with me, strap it on my back and look like the backpacking vagabond. As the sidewalks bends, I’m taken by the cool swoosh of the waves crashing against the rough rocks below. I examine the area as the lights from where we came from fritter away and we enter a patch of darkness where only fractions of light shape the rugged wall that encases perched yards and stairs to Croatian homes. The foreign words spoken around me is a comfort. It goes with the tone of our environment. I feel safe and tranquil. I’m kicking myself in my head, laughing on how stupid I can be. The whiskey still has a grab of me but the reality of my loss hit me hard that my head aches a little. As we twist around another bend a beam of light hits us and we uncover a bustling center. One with stores and more restaurants and small convenient stores.
The marble finish sidewalks reflects the glow of downtown. The people walking with me get sucked into the stream of moving people. I get closer and get lost in the current. I’m fairly tall and I could see over a few heads for the nearest ATM. I spot one and step aside from the flow. I take out the rent and some money for tonight. I feel like a king. Kuna. Hundreds of them in my hands. I’m awaken with a vigorous urge to sit back and drink a beer or two. I race back to the hostel lady, pay her and she bids me farewell as I bounce back to the hub and its glossy paths. I see several places where people are drinking but they are too touristy for me. And too pricey. I go further, with the hope of finding something local. I get to the edge of the ebullition and see a couple of girls head into what looks like a park of some-kind. I walk slowly behind but not slow enough that the guys behind me pass and not too fast to scare the girls just ahead entering a dark and solitary patch of trees. Earth and grass under me. I’m bouncing up and down from the bumpy ground. I can see lights and a structure ahead. And hear music. I’m fine. This is it. A bar hidden from the town center comes into view as I leave the creepy bar’s entrance. It’s right on the edge of the water. I order a beer, a shot of whiskey (that wicked liquid…I can’t hate you for long). I turn my seat to the sea and pull out my cigarettes. Light one and take in the view. Today is fine. Today is a lesson. It’s money I lost, but it’s not my trip. I still have my trip. I drink the beer quick and order another one. The people around me are enjoying themselves and I’m glad. I glance to my left and see a couple of girls smoking and drinking alone behind the durable plastic table. I can hear them speak their language and can feel a couple glances my way. I take a drag of my cigarette and get up to order my beer. As I come back I ask if I could sit at their table. They allow me.
“I’m Zack,” I say. “A stupid American.”