We were on top of the world, basking in the Málaga sunlight, on our way to a country we'd only dreamt about: Morocco. As we enjoyed our lunch at the cafe close to the bus station, we laughed and joked, sipping on cold beers. My friend B got up to get her wallet to pay. She turned and stopped.
"Where's my backpack?" she said.
I thought it had fallen behind our luggage. But as we pushed each piece to the side, searching vainly, my blood ran cold as I realized it was gone. B's passport, wallet, and camera had been in that backpack.
"Shit," I thought, as I remembered the old man who'd sat at the table beside us. He'd been staring intently, but I'd dismissed it as a Spain thing, where everyone stares. I sprinted towards the side streets, hoping to spot him, but knowing it was futile. My friend's passport had been stolen, and she couldn't go to Morocco.
Right away, we went to the police station, and were told we had to go to the Canadian consulate in Málaga - but the next day, as it was a Sunday. We felt down, but we made the most of our situation by eating at chiringuitos (beachside food shacks), El Pimpi's (a famous Málaga restaurant), and admiring the beaches.
I messaged a friend who happened to live in Málaga, and she graciously allowed us to stay at her apartment. However, bad news awaited us the next day: the consulate could only give B emergency papers to return to Canada within 7 days. If she wanted an actual passport, she'd have to go to the embassy in either Madrid or Barcelona and pay a high fee for them to process one quickly. To say B wasn't happy would be an understatement. There was only one solution I could see: I'd go with her to Madrid, as I knew the city somewhat and had a friend there, and T would meet Tam in Morocco, who was alone in Casablanca. To catch the incoming train headed for Madrid, we left T with a flurry of bear hugs, and doubts about whether we'd be able to afford the plane tickets to meet him again in Morocco. Not to be overly dramatic, but like Frodo and his company at the end of LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, our group split apart.
(to be continued....)