30 Days Without a Smartphone

Barcelona // Pic pocket // No more phone


There is nothing like losing looking for something you know you had, and it not being there. Barcelona is known for it's discreet yet abundant amount of pic picketers. It took two months for them to get to me, and now I feel like a fool.

I went through a roller coaster of emotions yesterday, retracing my steps, cursing each one that lead me to nothing. I didn't just lose my phone, I lost my temper, I became sad, ashamed and humiliated.

I had been warned many times to keep my personal belongs close. I accomplished keeping my self safe until yesterday, I had my android phone lifted from my backpack. I don't know where, I have a time frame but no clue the exact moment, now I am without a smart phone. It feels really personal to lose something I carry with me everywhere, everyday, all the time. I am nervous for what will happen to the life I feel I had on my phone.

I trudged back to the Barcelona SAE office with dread and told my school mentors what had happened. Three people looked back at me, two said they had been through the same experience before.

"This is the way it is here" they all agreed, "don't be too hard on yourself, the people (pic pockets) here are very good."

They are very, very good. It's an art here and the tourist are the target. There is a huge problem of pic pocketing but there is not much that can be done once it happens.

There are many other elaborate tricks I have witnessed in the streets:

The Flower Scam: Involves nice looking ladies that offer flowers. Don't take it. The flowers are an excuse for them to get close to you and into your pockets. If you do take it, they will begin to demand money, it is not a gift.

The Crowded Metro Scam: Don't be stupid. The tricks are numerous and sometimes involve elaborate acts. One scam involves a delay at the door which allows many people to slip into the already crowded metro, as they squeeze past they take what they can and say it's too crowded and get off. 

The Clipboard Cover Scam: I've seen this happen. Some holding a clipboard approaches you, asking you to take a survey, then they shove the clipboard over your bag and get into it as you complete the survey. There are even variations such as, "helpful" maps, fake tickets, and night club "promotions." Don't be fooled.

There are other scams and many variations. My school is close to a tourist area and many scams occur close to the area. Nowhere is totally safe. It's important to always remain your toes. I was in such a good mood that day, keeping track of my phone apparently slipped my mind, I had booked tickets to Paris.

I tried tacking my phone but because it is in airplane mode, I will likely never located it. The weirdest thing about the whole ordeal is my last location is the school. I didn't take my phone out after I left school until I looked for it at lunch. By then i'd been to three stores and numerous streets, it could have been lifted anywhere. It's a mystery and I will never know what happened.

I will do my best not to be bewitched again, by the beautiful city of Barcelona. I am still in love with my life here.

I got a new 20 euro phone to pass my last 29 days here. I know the city like the back of my hand, and now I get to test my knowledge. The nicest thoughts I have had in the last 48 hours include: 

"Not having a smart phone is like going back in time."

"Now you can practice asking directions in Spanish!" (My pronunciation of street names is something I have really been trying to improve.)

"What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, and you can survive this."

Besides, now I am thinking it will make an interesting story and I would like to personally invite you to spend 29 more days abroad with me, without a smart phone.


Aprendi a vivir: I learned to live.