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  • Writer's pictureThalien Colenbrander

THE NINJA YOGI - from my travel blog

Hands down, still the most action movie-esque story to tell of my vagabond adventures so far.

Protagonists : A Chilean dude named Ilan and myself. Sidekicks: Ilan's fluffy little white dog named Paco and my dog, Moos.

'Twas a Friday eve in July, the year 2021. Location: Bilbao, Spain. What otherwise would likely have been a boring weekend, waiting for Monday when road services would tow away my camper, ended with me and Moos joining forces with above-mentioned unlikely duo on a crime fighting adventure.

Earlier that day, I had befriended Ilan in said car park. When I found out my camper had called it quits, and I'd be stuck there all weekend, he kindly offered to join him in his van and go to the beach instead. All good vibes, so off to the beach we went around 19:30 in his van and our doggo's.

On the way there, we stopped at a Decathlon to get Ilan a camping table and some other bits and bobs. We had left our stuff in his van. Upon return, I immediately saw my bag was missing. Both dogs were in the car, acted normal, and we were sure we had locked the van. Nothing else appeared to be missing. Ilan's bag was still on the bed, where my bag had been too. Then I suddenly realised that - by sheer, unbelievable luck - Moos' GPS was not on him as usual, but in the missing bag.

Tracking the location with my phone, the GPS appeared to be moving at about 800m away from us. We jumped in our seats, drove to the location, which turned out to be a gas station. I jumped out and ran to the pumps, taking a shortcut via the back side. Upon arrival, I saw several cars at the pumps, my eyes frantically scanning the people (8 or so) walking around. Almost immediately my eye fell on a somewhat scruffy-looking Arab man in his late forties who looked suspicious - partly due to his looks but mainly something in the nervous way he lowered his gaze and turned away from me as I marched towards him.

As he continued filling up his tank (what else could he do?), I quickly scanned the back seat for my bag - nothing. Then I saw another man sitting in the passenger's seat. Same looks as the other one, but older and scrawnier. High on adrenaline and without thinking, I opened his door. The startled man looked at me in utter surprise as I said hello and told him I was looking for a bag. Half a second later, I spotted my bag squeezed between his feet! I started shouting and by that time Ilan had also arrived. The man got out of the car, by then we were all yelling at each other. Ilan pushed the old man out of the way, yanked the bag out of the car and shoved it in my hands, telling me to check if everything was there.

Meanwhile, the younger thief had paid for his gas, and they hurried to get back in the car and escape. As this was happening, Ilan managed to take pictures of the older copilot and of the licence plate. I saw money was missing from my bag, alerted Ilan who then started running after the guys who at that point had just left the station. He managed to stop the car, and both guys got out again. Ilan started fighting with the copilot, so I ran over there too and started screaming at the driver to give me my money "DINEROO, DONDE ES EL DINEROOO!!" He pulled his wallet and handed me 40 euro, but I kept shouting - positively in beast mode - where the rest was upon which the copilot handed over a phone to Ilan - which he himself hadn't even known was missing, it's his second phone that he keeps in his dashboard!

The robbers got back in their car and skidded off. I ran behind them, flung open the left rear door, but then decided to leave it. I had most of the cash back, and most importantly, my bag. We watched them drive off with the rear door swinging back and forth, just like in a chase movie. High-strung but laughing at what had just gone down, we returned to the station and called the police. Incredibly, with so many people witnessing the scene, nobody actually called for help.

Police arrived within 5 minutes and as we told them what had happened, Ilan noticed the lock on his van passenger door had been subtlety forced, finally accounting for how they had gotten in. We followed the police to their office for a formal declaration. Took a long while, but finally we could leave and head to the beach. Pffff!

We were both shocked and electrified at what had just happened and the amount of luck involved: the GPS, the fact that the delinquents were pumping gas, giving us the opportunity to confront them. The fact that they were totally unprepared for a head-to-head, unarmed and not particularly violent. In my adreline-fueled outrage, I hadn't once thought of the danger. The only thing on my mind was hunts those pricks down and get back what's mine.

A day later we're laughing at the bizarre chain of events and comparing the thieves to the burglars in Home Alone because they acted like a ball of confusement, unbeknownst what had hit them. The look on that guy's face as I opened the car door was GOLD. Don't mess with us! Writing this, I'm feeling a strange concoction of triumphant pride mixed with shock and the deepest humility for the fact that nothing bad happened, which it so easily could have. Don't try this at home, kids... 😂

To read more of my travelling stories on Polarsteps, click here.

Love, Thalien xx

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