Part I: Vending Machines
It was a cool Tuesday night as we stood outside and smoked on Adrian’s balcony. We had just finished another bar night together on the beaches of Gexto, Spain – as American students, we found this new lifestyle to become an almost everyday treat. The problem was that this time, my roommates and I missed the last train to our apartment in San Mames. Fortunately, Adrian, a Basque student originally from Colorado, was living in this particular village.
So here we were – while the girls stayed indoors and cheerfully chatted and enjoyed the Spanish wine, the boys and I passed around the joint and talked of life’s wonders while gazing at the passerby’s at 1 am.
No matter where you are in this world, you’ll always find the strangest occurrences happening past the hour of midnight. Fortunately, Adrian’s balcony had front row seats to such occurrences.
“Yeah, it just so happens that my balcony faces a food vending machine across the street,” he point out to this small corner where two yellow-lit machines quietly rum. “It’s really funny – on one shelf it sells burgers and on the next it sells sex toys. So lately I’ve been chilling and people watching from my balcony, waiting to see who’s gonna get what.”
It didn’t take long to find ourselves doing the same thing. The people we silently watched were either men in questionable trench coats, poor drunken souls who merely need a snack, or couples who quickly bought – and whisked away – an item we had no chance to witness. There was even one man who – to our high amazement – rode a glowing unicycle back and forth, hastily cycling through for who knows what.
We began to talk of travel experiences. Crazy stories. Plans on what to do for the rest of our semester abroad. Then Chris, a medical student from Chico, California, brought up an amazing plan we all found envious to even think of.
“I’m planning to hike up the Mesa de los Tres Reyes,” he says, confidently. “The Table of the Three Kings. It’s been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.”
“No way dude,” Adrian says. “That sounds awesome. When are you planning on going?”
“Sometime soon. I hear it’s best to go at this time, before winter settles in.”
“If you guys are going, then count me in,” I join in. “The Pyrenees Mountains sound amazing. How are you planning to get there?”
“I’m not sure just yet,” Chris states as he takes another puff. “Rent a car? Bus? We’ll figure it out soon.”
The rest of the boys didn’t seem too interested, but I could tell from the beginning Chris and Adrian were serious. I was happy to see that – no bluffs. No wishes. Just action.
We began to talk of travel experiences. Crazy stories. Plans on what to do for the rest of our semester abroad.
Then Chris brought up an amazing plan we all found envious to even think of.
“Hey have you guys been pickpocketed yet since arriving here?” Adrian asks the group with a smile.
I was fortunate enough to shake my head no – I’ve been aware of pickpocketing before through prior travels. However, almost everyone in the group gives a scowl once the question arises – depending on everyone’s expressions, you can tell who’s been hurt the most.
“Man, don’t remind me – it was this morning after class, too.”
“Hey, at least it’s not as bad in certain areas in Spain. A gang held me down and threatened my life in Barcelona. Good thing I’m a track runner.”
“No guys, have you heard what they do in Eastern Europe?” Adrian says, excitedly. “There’s some pickpocketers who literally give you their baby.”
Of course, all the boys’ eyes widen, their curiosity spreading like wildfire. “How? Why?”
“They approach foreigners with their babies and just hand it to them. Since you can’t just drop a baby, you naturally open your arms and receive the kid while they begin to take your stuff… And you can’t do anything cause you have a baby in your arms.”
“Then what happens to the baby?” Chris asks.
“I don’t know, I guess another person comes over and takes back the baby.”
“What if you just take the baby?” I ask. We begin to laugh. “You just grow up and realize that you were a baby thief.”
“Baby theft.” Adrian and Chris say in unison.
So then it was set. The journey to the Pyrenees Mountains begins. And our group name? Baby theft.
Jay: Basque Country, 2018
About the Author
This author would like to remain anonymous. The following characters’ names have been changed for privacy. Read more of this author’s adventures through the Baby Theft series.