My hand makes contact with the bar and the tape runs back to normal speed. My head flips back into action.
“Don’t worry guys I’ve got this round.”
I reach down and into my handbag, the strap placed across my chest. It only takes a moment to realize.
“Someone has stolen my purse.” The sentence leaves my lips almost like a murmur, my expression blank as emotion fails to register. I’m almost inaudible over the sound of the techno all around us.
“Are you alright?”
“Yea” I nod. I desperately try to think of what my next move is, think as to what was inside my purse. I have another bank card at home, I can replace this. “It’s only money”, right?
Even though I am a little disappointed by the nearly 50€ that someone has managed to thieve from me, from around my neck, I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Pick pockets are rife in Prague, you should always be alert. I breathe in, breathe out. Inhale, Exhale. Note to self: everything is replaceable.
“Wasn’t your passport in there?” Angela turns to me, brow furrowed, lips curled downwards, nose wrinkled, a puzzled yet worried expression.
I snap back to the week before. Standing in Primark Frankfurt, I’m elated to have found a purse with a little pocket for holding my passport. Carrying your ID everywhere you go in Germany is a legal requirement. “How handy is this?” I thought to myself. The elation has certainly disappeared now. Note to self: everything isn’t easily replaceable.
“I’m not going to let it ruin my night. We’re here in one of the biggest clubs in Europe and I might never be here again. Let’s just have a good time,” I say.
We dance, they drink, we stare at women trying to tempt us, with their legs going up, up, up. I am in a different world, one where there is nothing else, just the music, the people, and the night. The rest of the night passes by in a blur. It’s not the alcohol, for I have had hardly anything to drink before my money ran dry; it’s the whole intoxicating atmosphere: the spinning lights, the smoke machines, the thumping music, the different world on every floor, the people, the dancers. Even though I stop drinking, I try and let the club, the music, the dancing, consume me. For a few hours I am just another small piece of Prague. There is nothing wrong. I am just a dancer. Nothing more.
As the early hours of the morning claim back the city, my friends’ perky demeanors start to sag. One is practically slumped into a coma over a small drink soaked table by the time we decide to leave, and as the fresh morning air hits me, so does the realization.
I’ve had my passport stolen.
Someone has stolen my identity, my freedom to travel, my home, away from me.
There is nothing I can do prevent the floods of tears escaping my eyes and rolling ferociously down my face. The realization is all too much for me as my friends hail a cab and negotiate a respectable fare in German.
They ignore me on the ride back to our hostel. They are not being cold, they just know that there is nothing they can do now. It’s gone. That’s all.
They try to keep the atmosphere inside the cab light, which is kind of hard with a girl wailing with hysteria in the corner, hunched over like Quasimodo, mascara and anger streaming down her face. The cab driver asks what is wrong with me and when they explain I realize that he doesn’t understand. It’s not that he doesn’t understand what happened, just that he doesn’t understand me.
Street signs whizzing by bathe the inside of the cab in dazzling light. The stunning architecture of Prague, the buildings I had been aching to see, pass me by. I don’t want them anymore. I have no right to be here. Maybe even a glance out of the window at the new world I had crossed the continent to discover would have broken the spell, but I don’t look up. I need to wallow in the misery a little longer.
As I go to pay my share of the cab, opening up my empty handbag is another painful reminder of what I have lost. The tears come back full force, and it’s just too much for my eyelids to hold.
My friends ask me if there is anything I need before tucking me into bed, in our 24 bed dorm room. But there is nothing. Nothing that they can give me. If our dorm mates weren’t already best pleased by their noisy Brit dorm mates, one coming back bawling her eyes out at this ridiculous hour can’t have helped our case.
I silently sob myself to sleep. It will all be a little better I think. Tomorrow, time will heal this.
George is a 20-something hitchhiker, solo female traveller and cunning linguist, currently teaching in Kyushu, Japan. She circumnavigates the globe and teaches languages to all those in her wake. She has travelled Europe and Oz extensively, and has taught languages in 6 different countries and counting. She writes about a mix of language learning, TEFL tips and general travel tales. Follow her journey at http://georgeonthego.org.