A Travellerspoint blog

Being Street Smart

How to not fall for tricky robbers

So, I have been travelling South America (Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile) for 6 months now.
I came here on my first day not trusting anyone. Keeping my passport on me, hidden. Putting money in at least three different places. Keeping my actual credit cards and identification in a separate bag than the copies.
I did everything necessary to be prepared.
Not only that, but I was prepared. Mentally.
I had heard about all the dangers and problems that can occur while being a tourist. But, I had travelled all different parts of Argentina with no issues. If anything I met many kind, helpful people.

Today was my last day in South America. I was off to Canada before heading back to the States. I left my friend´s house in San Telmo, Buenos Aires around noon. I wanted to walk to the bus station which was only a 40 minute walk. I have walked longer than that with all my bags. I was determined to try and walk as much as I could during my travels.
I made sure all my bags were ready, packing for the plane ride. I had my small bag with all my important things so I could have it with me as a carry-on.
This included:
passport
2 debit cards and 1 credit
phone
ipod
warm clothes for landing in cold Canada
4 beautiful mate cups
little bit of cash for the bus ride to the airport

I was on my way. Four blocks into my walk I felt something on my leg. I thought I stepped in a puddle or something. Then I felt something on my arm and head. It was a green-yellow liquid with a foul smell. An older woman behind me noticed it too and started cleaning herself off. She looked like she lived in the apartment that we were in front of because she was facing the door.
She told me that I had it all over my bag. She took out some tissues and helped clean my hair.
I thought it must have been bird droppings and thought to myself, "Well I was always told that this means good luck! So I guess I´ll have plenty of luck for my flight!".
I took my big backpack off to see how dirty it was. And WOW it was all over. I noticed how it could not have been from a bird. It was way too liquidy and smelly.
I turned around to a man yelling at me. Said that someone had taken my bag. My small bag. The one with all my documents.
When I realized he was right I turned and saw the older woman walk away.
The man who told me said the guy walked away and to the left on a main street. He saw the man do it, but he didn´t help me.
I ran. Not knowing where to go or who I would be running after.
I saw a cop and ran to help telling him my situation, hoping he would run to him faster (since I still had my large backpack on). He made a call and said another policeman would pick me up in a car and help me out. No one came.
I was waiting when an older gentleman came up to me asking if I was robbed. He told me where I should go to make a claim. I mentioned how someone was supposed to come and help me. In spanish he said, "no one is coming". The cop agreed.

I walked back to my friend´s house where I was able to finally break down in tears. I felt like an idiot. So incredibly stupid.
I KNEW about the old "mustard trick". I read about it. I knew people got robbed in the city. I knew tourists were a target. I should not have trusted an elderly woman.
And most of all I should have kept all my important things on me. In my pants. In my bra. In my shoe. Just like I did my first few months here.

As stupid as I felt, and as much as I knew I wasn´t flying out of Argentina quite yet, I had to laugh. The irony of it all was too much.
And really I know that all I lost were things. I was alive. I didn´t get robbed with a gun to my head or by getting the shit kicked out of me. I was lucky.

Now it all is just a damn hassle. Having my parents help me cancel my cards, change my flight, transfer money (which I can´t do until I have my passport), send my copies of identification, and of course, pay for all these inconveniences.

Also I am inconveniencing my friends. One who is an angel, letting me stay at his place longer. And another who will help lend me money.
These people give me faith in humanity. They make this situation not so difficult to go through. I am incredibly grateful for their kindness. Much love and positive energy to them.

So now I have a flight for Friday, but going directly home to Southern California, and will head to the US Embassy tomorrow morning to get a new passport.
Even when shitty things come about, everything will work out in the end.

So for the future, I now know to not get cocky. It can happen to anyone because these people were pros! Just be prepared and make sure you and your family have copies of everything. And keep money somewhere safe along with your passport.
Also, it helps to make friends :)
Help those around you and it will come back around when you need it.

Peace and Love.

Posted by Laurdatri 20:09 Archived in Argentina Tagged locals city dangers safety robbery

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Comments

It's a hard thing to believe that some people are so kind and others can so such wrong and harm you.... But what makes it such a hard lesson to learn is that despite warnings, we actually don't often know the difference. Trust and friendship takes time. Thanks for the reminder in the lesson. Sorry it happened to you; but it happens to all of us that are not well prepared and reminded.

by Henry D'Atri

I´m happy that in someway you see the "happy" side. You didn´t get robbed with a gun or sth, so you are fine now! I would kick their ass RRRoaaarrr. Definitely, you should write some chronicles about your long trip, and this one deserves a special chapter
See you!

by Juan Pablo

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