Okay, I can now say that, after all the years I have been travelling, I have finally fallen victim to a very good pickpocket. Sad but true… I was actually proud that I have travelled to so many countries for so many years and yet, I have never had a single thing stolen from me. I always stay hyper-aware and pride myself of being very street savvy. But today, I met my match.
I was a classic statistic - weary from a long journey, dragging a suitcase and backpack and a small handbag with my wallet. As I left the train in the Madrid metro, I knocked my handbag on the door as I exited the train and it slipped behind me, unnoticed. It took all of 10 seconds for the two Romanian girls to steal my wallet.
So you may asking yourself… how do I know who stole my wallet? Well, this is where the story has a bit of a twist. It was me they were stealing from and I, unbeknownst to our perpetrators, am the luckiest girl in the world. You see, I believe in karma and therefore, I always try to do good wherever I can, in small ways and sometimes in big ways. Today, a bit of that good karma came back to me.
As soon as those girls walked away with my wallet in hand, a guy quickly stopped me and told me that he suspected that they had stolen it. And, I did what any angry woman does - I started chasing them!! There is nothing quite so frightening as an irate screaming woman running you down with a 15kg suitcase in tow. They were scared… I was gaining on them … and they were only carrying my wallet! As I caught up to them, they took the cash and threw the wallet on the ground - mission accomplished! I had my wallet back and most importantly all of my credit cards. All I lost in the end was about 70€ in cash, and of course my pride. I can no longer say that I have not been pickpocketed. But, I can say that I have chased down two pickpockets carrying a very heavy suitcase and won the day. That experience (and the lesson it has reinforced) may actually be worth the money.
When I was in Alhama de Granada during my cycling tour through Spain, I decided to get a massage. I had been riding my bike from Portugal to Spain over a few weeks and thought that it might be a good idea to get a massage to work out any kinks, although it has to be said that I was feeling great, except for nagging cold.
While having this massage, the therapist suddenly said to me - “I haven’t massaged a person like you in years and years. You are like Gumby*; you are made of rubber. I cannot find any tight muscles in you at all. Are you sure you have been riding a bike constantly for the past 3 weeks?”. Mystified, the therapist spent an extra 15 minutes of her own time trying to find a single sore muscle - neck, shoulders, legs, calves, feet - nada, nothing.
How could this be?
I lay there dumbfounded. This was nothing short of miraculous in my view. Just 6 weeks before, back in Australia, I was having to get regular massages - and by regular, I mean every single week - to counter my uber-tight muscles in my neck, back and shoulders. Mine was the plight of most IT workers who spend a vast number of hours behind a computer. I was getting physio, massage and doing Pilates regularly to counter to ill effects of my day job. A mere 6 weeks later, there was no trace of the physical and emotional traumas that my chosen profession had inflicted upon me.
The road to transformation?
Well, let’s just say that if you are not very happy, it manifests itself in all sorts of weird and fascinating ways. How could I go from working 9 hours a day on a computer to riding 6+ hours a day and have no ill effects? In fact, how could the physical problems that I was having working at the computer disappear while riding rough roads, dirt and cobblestones?! The physical demands are just as, if not more gruelling, on the bike. The answer was simple really - contrary to how I was feeling before, I am now happy and have no stress - nada, nothing. ;)
So the lessons in this story are very simple,
1) if you are stressed and unhappy stop what you’re doing. It is not worth it. It is probably costing you more to maintain your deteriorating physical and mental health than what you are earning per year.
2) if you are “like Gumby”, keep doing what you are doing. You have obviously found the recipe for happiness.
* So who is Gumby? For those who don’t know, Gumby was a cartoon character who was made of clay (not rubber, just to set the record straight). His sidekick was Pokey (I think), a clay horse. My recollection of the cartoon is vague at best! Thank goodness for Wikipedia!