A group shot of friends from the Sea Point Hostel in Barcelona, Spain

How to Avoid Spanish Jail

The Scintilla Project Day Two

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Last updated on February 6th, 2024 at 08:51 pm


1. What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told? Why? Would you tell the truth now, if you could?

2. Tell a story about something interesting (anything!) that happened to you, but tell it in the form of an instruction manual (Step 1, Step 2, etc.).

— The Scintilla Project, March 14, 2013

Originally, I was going to choose the first option, but I’ve never been big on lying. It’s way harder to remember the details of something you’ve made up than it is to simply confess to the truth, no matter how harsh it is. It’s not a lesson you learn overnight—it takes a lot of pain, fights and struggles to get to a point where you realize that it’s just not worth it and you’ll probably tell your share of little white lies in the process.

For example, lying would’ve made the situation below a whole lot worse.

How to Avoid Landing Your Butt in Spanish Jail

  1. Spend 22 years doing no travel save for trips that your parents take you on (see: the time you go to Jamaica and find out how big cockroaches can really get; or the time you go to South Carolina and get left in the car for 6 hours while your Mom and Aunt go outlet mall shopping)
  2. Get a message from your ex of 10 years prior who’ll tell you that she’s taking a backpacking trip to Europe, and you’re totally invited.
  3. Brush off the idea since you’re just a university student with a well-paying job.
  4. Get tax refund.
  5. Talk to boss about going on vacation for three weeks and agree with her that it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.
  6. Watch her jaw drop when she realizes that you’re only giving her a week’s notice.
  7. Somehow charm her into letting you go and fly out to your first major non-family trip ever.
  8. After visiting London, Amsterdam and Paris, spend some time in Barcelona.
  9. Go for a club hop night with the hostel you’re staying at.
  10. Proceed to get drunk off of copious amounts of tequila and nibbling on a lizard that had spent years soaking at the bottom of a tequila bottle.
  11. Proceed to get very friendly with a random Australian girl that you meet, so much so that your travelling companions decide to leave you be under the assumption that you will spend the night “getting some”.
  12. Part ways amicably with said Australian and start the half-hour staggerfest home (noting that it’s a walk that would take you only 5 minutes were you anywhere near sober).
  13. Get flagged by Spanish police who want see your passport. In hindsight, this could only be for one of two reasons:
    1. For public drunkenness, which is unlikely since plenty of others were also slowly making their way across the beaches to their destinations, or
    2. Being the wrong colour in the wrong place at the wrong time. You see, Barcelona has a recurring issue with illegal immigrants—namely those from West Africa. In the daytime, you see swaths of vendors on the ports—all of them Black-faced—with blankets of cheap goods for sale. That is, until a cop car nearly runs them over, they bundle that stuff up and get on the move. No matter how I dress, spoke or acted, it would seem that I still “fit the description”.
  14. When they explain with pleasant surprise that you’re from Canada, reply in kind with “Yes, and I’d really love to see it again!”
  15. Receive passport from police after telling them where you’re staying and told to stay safe on your way back to your hostel.
  16. Enter hostel.
  17. Sleep a few hours.
  18. Wake up.
  19. Eat breakfast.
  20. Go lie on the beach until you feel better from the hangover.
  21. Proceed to sleep for 6 hours under the Barcelona sun in nothing but swim trunks and a room key tied ’round your leg. But hey—at least you won’t get a sunburn!
The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad

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