Easy picking

This blog is all about the good life Tom and I experience as travelers, and the great things we want to share with others who follow our travels. Sometimes, though, things happen that put a dent in the sheer pleasure of wanderlust. Such was the case last week on our drive across Spain, when we were robbed.

May 1st started out as a great day–after a lovely overnight in San Sebastian, sunny skies overhead.

The deed happened when we stopped to refuel along the highway near Burgos–a classic divert-and-rob event, with a fellow making noise and luring me behind the car while Tom was paying for gas. Waving his arms, the stranger described a “problem with your car” that he had spotted from behind on the road. Meanwhile, his (unseen) accomplice made off with my handbag, passport, credit cards and camera. When we learned what had happened, we were shaken by the experience. In the end, though, it was not as bad as it might have been.

We noticed the theft as we pulled onto the highway after our rest stop. Tom stopped and backed up the on ramp into the station. The attendant called the police immediately, and they were fast to arrive on the scene. Not much they could do though, so we followed the squad car to the police station in Burgos, to file a report. Luckily, we had a copy of my passport, and from the depths of Tom’s suitcase, produced a list of credit cards and the numbers to call and report their loss–the police officer was surprised and delighted at that. An hour later, police report filed, we were on the road again.

Police officers were helpful, friendly and efficient. They made our unplanned visit to the Burgos police compound as pleasant–and brief–as possible.

I felt pretty stupid, but even now, am not sure how the situation could have been averted. These were professional criminals. No one was hurt–just my pride. And our stop in Burgos was not nearly as exciting in the happening as being tossed out of India a few years ago.

The thieves got my official documents and credit cards, but very little cash. Thankfully, most of my “gear” was elsewhere. Those rats only got my beloved, use-it-every-day iPhone battery charger. The one I got for Christmas. The iPhone was in my hand when I got out of the car. Hah!

The priciest item taken was my camera, its memory card carrying photos from the journey. We were just two days into a month-long trip, so there were not too many of those. Photographer Tom is loaning me a camera until I can figure out what to do for a replacement.

A small loss was the biggest

The item that cannot not be replaced is my little notebook–that repository of great thoughts, to-do lists and travel notes always in my bag. The good news is that I switched to using pocket-sized Moleskines a few years ago, so there was less to lose. Many famous writers have lost manuscripts and what happened to me pales by comparison. Note to self: be more diligent about transcribing your notes! And stick with the small notebooks.

My handbag held some pricey cosmetics, a new pair of glasses, a wallet and the aforementioned battery charger. We’ve now made a trip to Lisbon’s largest shopping center, and replaced everything but the specs (I was wearing sunglasses and brought along an old pair of glasses just in case).

Lessons for the road

We travel a lot, and try to take care, but “stuff happens”. As a reminder to us all, there are things a traveler can do, to minimize the stress of the unforeseen:

  • Be vigilant, as prepared as possible, and ready to move beyond the event.
  • Carry multiple copies of important papers, stashed in different locations.
  • Have a list of credit card numbers, and phone numbers for cancelling them.
  • Have paid-up travel insurance, including coverage for everything you value.
  • Don’t let the loss of “stuff” ruin your day!
Beautiful Spain, I (almost) forgive you. Sunny Portugal, so happy to be here, new notebook at the ready!


  1. So sorry you two! The sane thing happened to my parents drivibg through Spain a couple of years ago. What a scheme.
    Glad not too much was lost, still heartbreaking though.
    Big hugs and I hope the rest of the trip will go without a glitch. xox

    • Thanks Karin, There was no doubt these fellows had had plenty of practice…passport and “stuff” replaced, we are on to better things! Portugal is wonderful, easy to forget the inconveniences we experienced getting here 🙂


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