An Invitation For Trouble


This blog entry about the events of Thursday, July 08, 2004 was originally posted on July 16, 2004.

DAY 264:  Part of the drama of travel is getting into trouble whether you like it or not — or caused it or not for that matter.  On the road, you never know if trouble is lurking right around the corner.

“Hey look!” Jack exclaimed, pointing to the object coming around the corner.  It was PT Cruiser, the classic-looking automobile by Chrysler.  Jack had a fetish for PT Cruisers (the way I did for olives and key limes) and was excited to see one in Spain.

We were on a casual stroll on the east side of the city center — not looking for any trouble at all — after having bought our tickets back to Valencia and leaving our bags in a train station locker.  (Jack’s big suitcase actually fit!)  We walked up the Paseo del Prado, passed the Centro de Arte Reina Santa, the Jardin Botanico, the Palacio de Comunicaciones and the National Library.  We spent some time in the world-renowned Museo del Prado art museum where I appreciated seeing paintings (picture above) I remember from art history classes — Bosch’s El Jardin de las delicias and Velazquez’ Las meninas — Jack was pretty much bored the whole time.  On a makeshift megaphone I made from a rolled museum map, I declared that the staff of the museum should wear crazy hats to make it more fun.

After waiting to see if Selima would show up after Jack sent her an e-mail invitation for a final farewell (and possible make out session) — she was a no show — we strolled over to the Parque del Buen Retiro and sat at a cafe near the Monumento Alfonso XII.  On the way there though, trouble found us, or rather, we became the trouble.  A man who seemed really distraught approached us with a lecture.

“[Are you Madridian?]” he asked Jack.  Jack told him no.

The man went on and on about how dangerous it was for him to be wearing the San Fermin festival t-shirt he bought with a black and white bull’s head superimposed over a bright pink and green flag — the flag of the Basque country.

Many people know of the ETA, the Basque radical group that uses terrorist activity to express their detest of Spain.  In fact, the finger was first pointed at them after the 2004 Madrid bombings.  However, the ETA is just the representation of the extremists of the Basque people in the province to the northeast of Spain — most of them were peaceful.  The Basque have pride in their regional identity (they use their own language), so much that they wish to secede from Spain.  According to Jack’s friend Juan, it’s not just the Basque who want to stay true to their own identity; every Spanish province want it too, from the eastern province of Catalan to the northwestern people in Galicia.  They all have grudges against each other too, grudges maintained for years.  The Madridians hate the Catalans who hate the Basque who had Madridians. 

The rather vocal man in front of us was a very concerned citizen, pointing out that Jack’s wearing of a Basque flag in Madrid was a major faux pas that could get him killed.  “[Wearing that is an invitation for trouble,]” he said.  He himself had lost family members to Spanish/Basque violence

With that said, Jack put on his spare, plain long sleeve tee.

SEVEN HOURS LATER, we were back in Jack’s friend Juan’s apartment in Valencia.  Since Jack was to leave back to the States early in the morning the day after, this was to be his last big night out in Spain — Juan had been waiting for us to go out clubbing.  After a couple of toasts of White Horse scotch whiskey, we went back to Acuarella, the club we went to the night we got to Valencia, this time on a full blown crowded Friday night.  The place was ten times more packed than the Sunday before, with different rooms playing different styles of music.  With such a crowd, it was inevitable to get separated, even if we did try and stay together.

“We’ll check back here [near the entrance] at six,” Juan said.

We partied through the night with farewell toasts and farewell flirtations with Spanish girls.  The inevitable separation did happened and at 5:55 I realized it was coming time for our rendezvous update.  Drunk and exhausted from being up for about twenty-one hours straight — I’m a morning person and Jack’s a night guy, so between the two of us hanging out there isn’t much time for sleep — I waited for Jack or Juan to arrive back at the entrance.  Across the street from me was the beach, the perfect place for a sex romp in the dark — if clubbers weren’t around.  A couple that had just left the club started walking down the beach, walking hand in hand towards the Mediterranean.

Those two are going to have sex, I thought.  I have five minutes before our meeting time.  I have time to watch; I mean, sometimes a guy only needs thirty seconds.

I followed the two down the beach, but they walked way too fast for me in my stupor.  I sat on the beach and put my head down for a rest…

I WOKE UP from a tap on my shoulder.  I opened my eyes to see the sun rising and the girl who was walking me up.

Hey baby, was it good for you too?

“[I think some guy just took your wallet.]”

I checked my back pocket and it was gone.  “Oh shit.”

“[I’m sorry,]” the girl consoled. 

Damn, passing out on the beach sure was an invitation for trouble.  Oh well, it’s just money — I kept all my cards at the apartment.  At least I still have my—

“Fuck,” I said out loud.  My camera was missing too, along with the pictures I took the past ten days.

I ran back to the club, looking at my watch that survived the robbery.  Only about twenty-five minutes has gone by.  The club crowd had thinned out, but not my much; the DJ was still spinning the tunes.  I found Jack right away, who was still drinking and flirting with two girls.  I don’t think he remembered the six o’clock thing.

“Hey!  There you are!” he said all slurred.

“I was just robbed.”

And so, the party was over.  We found Juan and took a cab back to his apartment.

Whether it was the alcohol or the exhaustion that caused my passing out on the beach I’m not sure, although I still remember the events leading up to me lying on the beach, so it must have been more of the exhaustion and lack of sleep.  Then again, I’m sure the whiskey cocktails didn’t help much either.  In any case, I learned my lesson not to mix the two — a surefire invitation for you-know-what.  On the bright side, at least I wasn’t wearing a Basque shirt at the time.  Who knows what could have happened to me then?

Next entry: Last Night Out (Take Two)

Previous entry: King For A Day

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Comments for “An Invitation For Trouble”

  • SO, a brief overview of the pictures I lost that you might have seen if the Memory Stick might not have been taken:  photos of people in Pamplona passed out in ATM vestibules, the park, and Marlon’s apartment’s stairwell; a lifesize cardboard cutout of Spiderman in San Fermin gear; pictures of pictures of guys getting mauled by bulls; various party pictures; better Txupinazo pictures; more of the sights in Madrid; Jack admiring a PT cruiser; Velazquez’s painting and more!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/16  at  12:34 AM

  • GREETINGS SUR LE PONT D’AVIGNON…  I’m now in the southern French town of Avignon, home of the bridge in the famous French children’s song that people in American French classes had to sing.  Usually it’s a small town, but I’ve stumbled upon a HUGE theater festival—I almost couldn’t find a place to stay.  I lucked out (again) and am staying at place right on the Rhone, with a view of the famous bridge itself…

    YES I KNOW I’M STILL BEHIND… Bear with me!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/16  at  12:37 AM

  • you don’t know how you brighten up the day with your blog erik

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/16  at  12:56 AM

  • I posted my last message before i read your lastest adventure. Perhaps that was not the most appropriate comment to make seeing you got mugged again. Perhaps i should have said you liven up the day. What the hell were you doing following a couple about to have sex. Get a girl for yourself you crazy.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/16  at  01:45 AM

  • Could happen to anyone sleeping on the beach in Spain at six in the evening.

    Really though, that sux.

    My sister recently dropped my digital camera into a river on accident; my sympathies to you.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/16  at  02:21 AM

  • So, Erik, is there going to be another camera sent to Europe for you? Yeeks! This is getting more and more expensive. If I had the spare cash, I’d buy something else to support, but I’m sorry and I don’t…
    I love museums - and those buildings are WONDERFUL - very jealous.
    Again, thanks for the stories.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/16  at  08:01 AM

  • You know, I didn’t really appreciate how much work goes into a blog (meeting others’ expectations and the actual work and time involved)  until I started doing it myself..

    I just got back from a 10 day cruise around Hawaii on the ship that my wife works on.  I already had a webpage made for friends and family to see what she’s up to and where she is cuz I was getting tired of answering the same questions - where is she, how is she…  It seems natural to add a journal of the trip and photos on to it as well.

    Damn, Erik…  this is a lot of freakin’ work!  It’s good that you have your brother helping you with it, I’d love to have someone else to do my proofreading and making sure the links to photos work.. :(
    I have to say, Erik, that I’m following your form for stories and photos.  Seems easiest to follow, you know?

    Anyway, this is one semi-SBR that appreciates the blog a hell of a lot more.. smile

    Oh yes, if anyone is interested, my page and journal starts at


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/16  at  11:31 AM

  • well was it good for you?  hahah…

    no new camera sent…it’s EU, erik just got one there…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/16  at  05:37 PM

  • DARCY:  Thanks!  Yes, it’s become more of a job than anything…  The only thing that keeps me going are the words of wisdom from my writer friend MATTO:  “You become a writer when you write because you HAVE to, not because you want to.”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/16  at  06:51 PM

  • wow..matto said that? Are you sure there’s no mention of ‘beer’ that you left out in those words of wisdom? j/k.

    still…it sux. damn thieves! maybe they’re employees that doesn’t have the guts to travel around the world.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/17  at  01:13 AM

  • LOVEPENNY:  MATTO was probably drunk when he told me…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/17  at  01:31 AM

  • Markyt: Sometimes I think with the blonde brain cells… duh.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/17  at  07:31 AM

  • I’m sorry we missed the drunk people in the ATM booths…. But at least it was less traumatic than your South African experience.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/18  at  05:10 PM

  • robbed again? damn. that sucks. sorry, erik.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/18  at  05:35 PM

  • wow, that sucks that you got robbed again. but at least you are ok. cameras are replacable. and as for the pictures, we can wait til globaltrip number 3 or how many you plan to do. =)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/18  at  06:26 PM

  • Jealous of Prado trip. Not jealous about passing out on the beach and getting robbed. Damn!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/19  at  10:30 PM

  • so i’m reading backwards, sorry to hear about the camera :( but at least you’re ok! look i just made lemonade! i’ll keep on reading n smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/22  at  09:30 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
Last Night Out (Take Two)

Previous entry:
King For A Day


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