I think that my experiences as the victim of theft have finally driven me to the edge of insanity. This afternoon, I was about 15 minutes' walk away from the hostel — on my way to go exploring Montjuïc — when I was suddenly seized by a flash of paranoia. "Oh s$#%", I suddenly asked myself, "did I shut my locker before I left the hostel?" I knew that this random, irrational fear was most likely unfounded: but I also realised that so bad was my paranoia becoming, that if I didn't turn around and return to the hostel straightaway (to check the locker), then I'd have no peace of mind for the rest of the afternoon. So I walked briskly back to the hostel. And, as I suspected, I had indeed remembered to shut my locker, and it was locked safe 'n' sound when I inspected it. Dear G-d: what on Earth is this trip doing to me?!
Very early this morning, my amazing three-week detour down to Sicily was concluded by a devastating and highly expensive little episode. On the night train from Messina back to Rome last night, I was the victim of some serious theft — by far the worst theft I've suffered anywhere this year. I didn't anticipate it at all; I observed nothing of the incident itself; and I had precious little help or support in the aftermath of it. Lovely welcome back to the tourist trail and to civilisation, eh? I can at least say that it could have been worse; although sadly, not much worse. They took a hell of a lot.
My adventures in the rain this morning left me cold, wet, and buggered by midday. Once I said goodbye to my Sicilian angels, Cristina and Alessandra, I decided to call it an early day, and to find somewhere in Modica where I could dry out, warm up, and get myself clean once more. From the shopping centre where the girls left me, I rode into historic centre of Modica (still with light rain) — which, as with Ragusa, is a gorgeous Baroque affair — and put my feet up. I checked in to a lovely little B&B called Camera con Vista (lit: "Bed with a View"), where I had a long hot shower, and where I emptied all of my soaked belongings and laid them out to dry. Rather than endure any more arcic-condition cycling for the day, I waited out the afternoon under the covers of a warm bed, with a good book to keep me company.
I woke up this morning, in my dorm room at the Secret Garden in Quito, to find a very nasty surprise indeed. It seems that yesterday evening — when we were all upstairs on the terrace, having dinner and a few beers — someone came into Dorm F, and went through everyone's bags. They took everything that was unlocked, valuable, and lying around. Sadly, I was the worst hit: they emptied my money belt of its cash (about US$150); and even worse, they stole my new camera. Nooo — not again! Please g-d, why? This is about the worst way that my time in Ecuador could have possibly ended. It's going to leave me with a very bad taste of this country indeed. And as for Quito: well, I wasn't sure before, but now I'm quite certain — I simply am not too fond of this city.
This afternoon's parade in Miraflores was amazing; but unfortunately, it did also have its nasty bits. While walking through the thicker-than-thick throngs back to Loki, someone took advantage of the tight situation, and snatched all the cash out of my pocket. Anyway, could have been worse: all I lost was cash (excluding coins), and it wasn't much more than about USD$60. I knew it was a good idea to just leave my cash loose in my pocket, while I'm travelling: much better than them stealing a wallet, that's also filled with things like ATM cards and driver's licences.
You can't travel around the world for a year, without expecting to lose or to have stolen a number of things. This morning, my camera became the latest victim of the trip. I knew I would lose it eventually, but I never expected that it would happen quite like this.
I was sitting in an Internet café in downtown Arequipa, blogging and e-mailing away, when a mother with a small baby — and her female friend — came out of the bathroom, and walked behind where I was sitting. The mother dropped some tissues (to my left), and asked me to pick them up for her. I picked most of them up; she asked me if I could please pick up the rest. Which I did.
Ten minutes later, I got up, paid for my Internet time, walked out and down the road for about 20m, and then realised that my camera (which had been on the desk, to my right) was not in my pocket. I sprinted back to the café, but alas: the camera was not to be seen anywhere. And thus, here ends my time as the proud owner of an HP PhotoSmart R707, 5.1MP (3x opt zoom) digital camera.