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SCAMMED ABROAD: Festival Fleecing

Have you ever been thousands of miles from home and been left with just the clothes on your back? Unfortunately, in just 20 years, this has happened twice to me.

I have never been all that lucky and I have never been very careful. It turns out that, when you are abroad, this combination  leads to one disaster after another. I arrived at the annual music festival in Benicassim full of excitement and expectation. My friends and I had been planning the holiday for weeks, deciding how much money to bring and how to keep everything safe. Unfortunately for me, I also had to worry about my insulin because as a diabetic I cannot live without it.

When we arrived we could not wait for the swimming, music, sunbathing and drinking to begin. If I had not been so stupid and if the locals had not resented the festival-goers so much this would have been exactly what the duration would have consisted of. But of course, it could never be that simple.

It was the third night at 5am in the morning when someone suggested going swimming in the sea. The sun was coming up and it seemed like one of those movie moments that you just cannot miss. Everyone began running towards the beach. I looked down and saw my bag and knew that it would be best to keep it with me rather than leave it in the tent. How wrong I was. I reached the rest of the group to find them down to underwear and splashing about in the sea. I stuffed my bag beneath a rock and covered it with my clothes and hurried to join them. For five minutes I was having the time of my life; we were young, carefree and happy.

Suddenly one of the boys we were with began ripping through the sea to get to shore and it was only then that I noticed three boys kneeling by our stuff with their arms full. The chase began and we all ran after these boys but only one of our group continued to follow them. I remember being out of breath and finding the whole situation bizarre but amusing.

In my mind I knew that I could never lose that many crucial items and the friend would most definitely get the guys. But as he came into sight, empty handed with frustration written on his face, I realised that things had not turned out the way I expected.

The sheer enormity of the situation only truly dawned on me as I was standing at the police station doing sign language to Spanish police in my underwear at 7am. The lack of shoes, clothes and money would have seemed important at any other time but as I stood there and remembered the contents of my bag I realized that the next week was going to be quite difficult without a passport or insulin.

Francesca Newton

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2 Comments on this post.
  • Josh Franks
    1 November 2012 at 10:40
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    What happened next?!

  • dan
    1 November 2012 at 22:38
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    Pretty naive. We had the same situation in Cuba. Four people ran off into the sea after a suggestion from the local guys. I stayed with the bags with my friend. He drunkenly agreed to a race to some tree far down the beach leaving me and 4 Cuban guys standing around everyone;s things at 2am. It was a surreal faceoff which we won but i won’t say I wasn’t nervous.

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