In the September of 2012, after three change of flights, I landed in Ibiza. The first thing I did was get on my knees and kiss the tarmac. Okay, not the tarmac, but the cold floor next to the luggage conveyor belt, much to my wife’s embarrassment. You see, Ibiza was my dream destination. And September, with its closing parties, was a month as good as any other.
By the time we’d cleared immigration it was 12.30 at night and we were tired enough to drop dead. The hotel I’d booked was in San Antonia De Portmany in west Ibiza. There were two ways to get there. A taxi and a bus. The taxi was three times more expensive so my choice was the bus while Priya wanted to take the taxi. I argued till she gave in, though she wasn’t happy about it. It turned out to be a bad choice which Priya reminded me every three minutes. It was a hotel door-to-door shuttle, and it turned out that our hotel was one of the last on the route. So after taking the circuitous path by the time it reached our hotel, it was already 2.30 in the dead of the night. Only, San Antonia De Portmany, Ibiza is never dead at night.
Azuline Hotel Pacific was in one of the liveliest street of San Antonia De Portmany, which was the only comforting thing of reaching a new place at night. But our woes had just begun. I was told I had no booking there. The hotel records didn’t show my reservation. My ears started to buzz when I heard that.
Surely there was some mistake, maybe he’d got the name wrong. But in response he showed me another paper. My payment had not gone through, and so the booking had been cancelled. They had, evidently, mailed me, which had missed my attention.
There was no point arguing. All I could ask for was another room. Where would I go at 2.30 in the night? But there wasn’t any. I asked him to check if any other hotel would have a room. But by then his patience had run thin and he told me there were many hotels in San Antonia, I could just go and find out.
When we stepped out of Azuline, I was curtly reminded of my callous attitude by Priya for having missed the mail. “How can you be so careless all the time?” she told me. It pissed me off. Every argument has a time and place for it. I told her there was no need to pick a fight, it wasn’t going to get us a room.
(A side-note here to all travelling couples: when the situation is bad the last thing you need is a fight between yourselves. Put the anger for later, and at that moment only concentrate on digging yourselves out.)
Now, as mentioned, San Antonio is a very happening area, with innumerable crazy party animals getting in and out of the hundreds bars, hotels, restaurants, and a super lively walking street. There was music in the air and electricity all around. There were many hotels indeed, though all seemed sold out. Finally we found one. A dilapidated building, the name of which I don’t recall, but they had a room. I paid for a night and, before the receptionist could change his mind, went up to our room.
It was a six bed dormitory!
The toilet was unbelievable bad, with the seat almost hanging off the rim, and the room looked fit for a mental asylum or a drug rehab center. It was barely as large as a first class train compartment. The walls were the saddest yellow, wherever the paint hadn’t peeled off.
Priya threw up her hands. She said we couldn’t live here. I threw up my hands, where else would we go. I sat on one of the lower beds, but she didn’t move from the door. We argued. What about the other four, she asked me. I didn’t know. I didn’t even know it would be a six bed dormitory. There was a possibility that the other four beds would be given out, and that, I realized would not be a great situation.
So we dragged our bags and went back to the reception. Our line of argument, to get our money back, was how he could not tell us it was a dormitory. He promised no one else would be allowed in the room, which was fine for me. But not for Priya. She hated the dinginess of the room. But the receptionist didn’t seem like a confrontationist, though he did give us a disgusting look before refunding the money.
And so we were out on the road again, and this time I was seething. It was 3 AM now and San Antonio was just getting more electric.
The next few hotels we entered were completely sold out. Not even a room under the staircase. I’d checked on phone as well on travel sites, but couldn’t find anything. Now it was my turn to remind Priya of her immaturity for having let gone of that room. She wouldn’t look at me, and her nose pointed towards the sky.
I don’t know how we found Apartmentos Central Park. It wasn’t listed on any site. They had an apartment, a two bedroom with a kitchen. I decided this was it, no matter how bad Priya found it. But the apartment was surprisingly good.
When we were done checking in, I suggested we quickly shower, change and hit the clubs. Priya thought I’d gone mad. We fought again. How can anyone come to Ibiza and not see it at night, I told her. There were more nights, she reminded me, and got into bed.
Well I was having none of it. I quickly changed and hit the streets with my dancing shoes. All alone. Was feeling on the top of the world, getting in and out of clubs, dancing with strangers striking random conversations with people. My Govinda steps to hardcore EDM and techno were quite a hit with the ladies and frankly I was enjoying my freedom. Ibiza – San Antonio was lively, and I thought the woes were over.
But the real shit was about to hit the fan.
When I got back, Priya was sleeping. I slept too. The next morning we patched up. We went to the beach. We came back. Slept in the afternoon. We got ready to get out. And there it was. Or rather there it wasn’t. My wallet was gone.
We searched a lot. Upturned the whole house. But it wasn’t there. I found my breath shortening. All the money was in that wallet. There was nothing in the suitcase or with Priya. Without it, we were penniless.
I called up home, back in Bombay. I told my brother to check with the banker the status of my cards. He joked if I’d spent everything on the first day itself. But when he called me back he sounded concerned. The banker had informed that the forex travel card, which had 2000 Euros preloaded on it, was empty. And the Indian credit card showed transactions amounting to almost a lakh. What have you bought, my brother asked me. I told him my pocket was picked. This was in addition to the 500-700 euros cash that was in the wallet.
Immediately my brother blocked the credit card. You can imagine the thief’s plight. One moment you’ve bought Bose speakers, and next moment the stolen card shows declined.
The banker said that money had been withdrawn from the Travel Card. Now you wonder how that’s possible without a pin. I guess we’re all predisposed to acts of stupidity, and mine was putting the PIN of both my forex card and the Indian Credit card on a piece of paper and putting it in the wallet itself.
Thankfully, I’d paid for the room for two nights.
Back in Bombay, there was chaos. How to send money to me? The banker suggested sending an add-on card, which we could top up from Bombay. But that would take atleast four days to arrive, by when I would be in Stockholm. And how would I live five days with no money at all?
The next option was Western Union. But do you know Western Union only allows money to be transferred to India, and not out of India? There was travel insurance, which covered situation in event of going broke abroad. They would give some nominal amount, but for it I would have to go to Madrid. It wasn’t available in Ibiza.
That night was terrible. I abused Ibiza. I abused Europe. I abused the thief. I screamed curse words (in Hindi) wishing death come upon the one who’d stolen my money, and on his family. And all the while I cried. Priya was silent. She cried too, but less for the money and more because she saw me so broken. We’d forgotten the fight of the night before.
The next morning I went down to the internet in the lobby. Surprisingly, it was free. I checked flights from Ibiza to Mumbai. My brother called me, and I told him about my plan. He told me not to take knee jerk reactions and hold on till we figured things out. But by then I had already cancelled all my future hotels.
The rest of the day was spent in the Ibiza police station. This was my dream destination and where was I stuck. They registered a complaint, but I wasn’t the only one who was picked on by thieves. As it turns out Ibiza is a hot bed of thievery. People had lost phones, tablets, money even passport. All stolen, and police seemed least bit interested in locating anything.
When I came back to the hotel, there was good news. My brother had found a way to transfer money. One of his friend’s relative lived in Madrid. So he’d transferred money online to that person’s account, and in turn the Spaniard living in Madrid sent the money through Western Union to a branch in Ibiza. They gave me the password, and all I had to do was give them the password and take the money. But I couldn’t do it then because it was already night and the Western Union would be closed.
That was my third night in Ibiza, and third night in the hotel. Pasha, Amnesia, Space, they were all out there, and I was in here.
The next morning I was up at five. I recall my heart beating, like the day before the exam results. All possible bad thoughts crossed my mind. What if the password didn’t work, what if they hadn’t received the money, or it went to some other branch, what if they didn’t like my face?
8 in the morning and I was on the street. I went towards Western Union and with every step my heart beat increased. The sadness of lost old money had melted away in excitement of finding new money. Western Union, I’d never thought it would one day be THE most important company in my life.
I got the money. They asked for the password, saw my passport and gave it to me without a fuss. I’d lived three nights in utter poverty, so to say. Of course I hadn’t gone hungry, thanks to our Indian habit of carrying MTR and Haldiram.
And that night I went for ESPUMA, the foam party in Amnesia.
(All pics in this post are representational.)
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