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The Kindness of Strangers

Getting your wallet stolen, no matter whether it happens at home or abroad, is a traumatic experience. The problem with it happening abroad is that it has a tendency to taint the place you were visiting, even if it was a fantastic destination in every other regard.

While I certainly like to think that I kept an open mind towards Croatia–I still had a great time there and would go back again–having my wallet stolen early in my trip and the subsequent fun I had with trying to access money (and trying to deal with the police) definitely left a bit of a sour taste.

On the Walls of Dubrovnik

My lovely Game of Thrones tour guide (right, pointing out filming locations from the walls of Dubrovnik) was one of many people who helped me out when I was in need.

Yet at the same time, so many people stepped up when I needed help. I’ll never be able to repay the tour guide who not only shared her vast knowledge of ‘Game of Thrones,’ but also 100kn ($20) so I could ‘enjoy her city’ (aka eat lunch because I had no money). Or the Calgarian I met on Dubrovnik’s walls who offered a loan (to be repaid when I visited his city the following month). Or the hostel owner that offered as much money as I needed for the day without knowing exactly how I could pay him back.

I was able to pay back one passenger on my boat (via electronic transfer) when she withdrew $300 to get me through the rest of my trip…but even so, I still owe her because having some cash made traveling in a country that is very much cash-only so much less stressful.

Even once I left the country, kind strangers continued to offer their help. Travelon, whom I had worked with prior to the trip, read about what had happened and kindly offered me a new wallet. This wallet, the Safe ID colour block clutch, has since become a fixture in my purse even though I am no longer travelling. It was a great replacement for my previous wallet (with the added bonus of RFID blocking) and saved me from yet another expenditure in the wake of what ended up being a rather costly mistake.

Travelon Safe ID Color Block Clutch

My new Travelon Safe ID clutch. It may have room for a few too many cards!

Most surprising of all, though, was the message I got through Facebook a full 4 1/2 months after that frustrating day when my wallet disappeared in Split. Early one morning and barely awake, I slowly scanned the story of someone who had been walking through a park in Split and had found my wallet under a bush. I was incredulous. I’d hoped in the first week that someone would find the wallet and turn it into the police so I could have some of the irreplaceable things back before I left the country. After that, I figured it was gone, perhaps discarded unceremoniously into the harbour.

The photos attached to the message removed any doubt. My angry 18-year-old face stared out from my driver’s license and my collection of SIM cards sat piled next to one another. It really had turned up again.

It's Back

Very excited to have my wallet and my hard-earned Wimbledon grounds pass back.

I was a bit concerned that it might all be a ploy to get more money out of me then they had already. I made an offer to pay for the shipping expecting to be asked for more; instead, the mystery man used the British and Croatian change that the thieves had left in my wallet to pay for the shipping. He asked for nothing more.

The wallet has since arrived and is in surprisingly good nick, with only a little bit of mold on the edges of the leather. How did it survive that long? How did all the papers inside, including my precious Wimbledon grounds pass that I’d spent hours queuing for, not ended up soaked with rain? Maybe the thieves were doing some spring cleaning and discarded it only shortly before it was found. Maybe it was really well covered by the bush (unlikely, I know).

Croatian Stamps

30kn (or $6) — all it took to make my day (or even my month).

I suspect that the only people that can answer those questions won’t be doing so anytime soon, but in the meantime, my faith in humanity has been restored. Having my wallet back isn’t the important part… it’s the fact that someone was willing to go out of his way to do a nice thing for someone he’d never met. So thank you, and thanks to everyone along the way that helped when I was in need.

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