Eurotrip Lessons Part 4: How losing my phone changed my view on Croatia.
If you’ve read my post about vanlife while being black, you’ll know that my first experiences on the road in Croatia weren’t the most friendly.
Due to having been stopped and searched for drugs twice by the police. Due to having being turned away from one lodging for “having the face of an immigrant”. I arrived into Zagreb, Croatia’s capital with a somewhat pessimistic outlook. Because of this I spent my first morning alone, reading in the park. Reflecting on what was happening and how to best respond to what life was giving to me.
What I decided to do was visit the city centre and write about it.
I was navigating my way to the centre when I passed a busy intersection. I hadn’t eaten yet so my pockets were filled with snacks for the afternoon. My phone bulging out from atop the snacks. Two minutes after crossing I put my hand in my pocket and was met with a cold realisation.
My phone was gone.
The Phone Panic
My phone was everything. My satnav. How I found places to stay. My music. Social Media. My way back to the van.
I’m not an absent minded person and very rarely do I lose or misplace things. So immediately I ‘knew’ I had been pick pocketed. How could they choose the perfect moment? How did I not notice? All I knew was I had to make it to a coffee shop to change all of my email and social media passwords. Why? Because my phone didn’t have a lock on it. Rookie mistake.
After running all of the worst case scenario’s and cursing Croatia for yet another demerit. I arrived at a bar (for you How I Met Your Mother Fans, the bar was called ‘Puzzles’) that had wifi and a barman that didn’t speak English. I had actually planned to use my phone to search the basic Croatian for ordering a drink when I arrived to the city centre. After some cumbersome pointing I managed to order a herbal tea (which everyone kind of chuckled at me for haha). Next problem: They don’t accept card and I hadn’t any cash.
To my absolute surprise the barman said I could have it FOR FREE.
After everything that had happened this felt like he had just handed me £1,000 cash and the keys to a new car.
The Next Step
I spent the next hour or two changing my passwords and trying to work out where I had parked. Cut to a little later and I had, through my distress, sparked the interest of the new bartender starting her shift. We began chatting and the most important thing she told me was to “never give up hope”. However she also told me that in Zagreb, people don’t usually return phones. So she’s almost certain I’ll never see my phone again. Never the less she gave me her number and told me if there’s any way she can help, to get in touch. My faith in there being nice people was starting to turn around.
Adding to this I had been on Tinder (yes, it’s becoming more and more frequently mentioned in my blogs – no sponsorship yet though) and was being helped by a girl that gave me her number so that I could, remotely from my laptop, put a lock screen on my phone saying to call her number if anyone was to find the phone.
After finishing up at the bar and armed with a crudely drawn map I retraced my steps (for a second time) to see if I had dropped my phone on the floor. No luck.
Skipping over getting lost. A storm hitting. And some unfriendly pedestrians. It was now late, dark and I was beginning to lose all hope.
By sheer luck alone I managed to find my way back to Puzzles, where I still had no cash but they allowed me to use the wifi and brought me water.
This is where everything changed.
I had a message from the Tinder girl that gave me her number saying someone had called her. They had found my phone and wanted to return it.
No. Freaking. Way!
I couldn’t believe it.
The girl met me and took me to where they were. True to their word, they returned my phone and were extremely nice about it too.
My take away was to never think I know a place. To always leave room for people to surprise you. This is a very concise version of this story because I didn’t want it to run too long so feel free to ask me about the parts I missed out haha.
Catch you next week – and so much love to Marija and Paula, my saviours 🙂
Love, Kallum <3