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Greece 3: Amonias

I was carrying two large travel duffel bags, and a shoulder bag with a laptop computer in it. The fact that the duffel bags had rollers was of little use on the Metro. The large bags got stowed on racks for most of the trip. Mother and daughter sat, while I guarded luggage. But before reaching Viktorias Station we had a change of lines at Amonias. Guide books pick out this particular station as the home turf of tourist-targeting pickpockets.

Just before our coach change station, I pulled the bags down and squared up in front of the exit door. One has only fifteen or twenty seconds, so it seemed, to exit before the doors re-closed and the coaches zoomed off again. I had done an inventory just prior to this maneuver and had all my goods. Five minutes later I checked again-- too late.

At the stop before Amonias a dozen to two-dozen passengers crowded on, crushing me on both sides, my arms spread wide to hold the large bags steady on the floor. It was literally impossible to move. I was jostled, poked, and proded on all sides, while protecting my wallet-- but then it turned into a real rugby match as I tried to move all my stuff through the masses to get off at Amonias. This final scuffle either allowed my wallet to be extracted, or caused me to eject it by pulling my shoulder bag up under it and tossing it out of my coat. At any rate I was out of the belly of the whale, and the whale took off at a fast clip into a tunnel, and my wallet was gone.

Normally I would keep my wallet "packed away"-- but since it is a hassle to extract and we were about to eat lunch, I had decided to keep it handy. Nothing had led me to believe that I would be in for anything like intense physical contact until it actually happened.

The good news is that our cash and materials were well distributed on my person and other travel members. I lost some cash and two credit cards, but it was an embarrassment more than a vacation-wrecking event. The wallet did contain some personal things though, and itself was of much sentimental value. It was large, its leather polished from 35 years of service, and had been purchased in Chicago.

But deep down I was thankful to have survived yet another of the uncertain negotiations between gods and men. Yes, the wallet was taken, but I was not.

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Cydonia photo: ESA

This is the journal of David Ross
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