Wednesday, April 15, 2009


We were on the subway heading back from the artisan market near the Recoleta Cemetario when we noticed a person acting weird. He was three feet away, acting like he was getting out of the subway car...on the wrong side. He dropped some coins and scurried to look for them. In an instant, he was out of the subway car, on the correct side. Weird. I didn't realize how weird until we started out the next morning. I asked lisa “Have you seen my wallet”? We looked all over and realized that the “strange guy” on the subway was just a diversion and someone else had stuck their hand in my pocket and extracted my wallet. There was the initial shock. There was the anger. There was this feeling of “how stupid can you be”....carrying all your credit cards when you seldom use them...or having my ATM card with me all the time, even though we don't need money...or..just something else that I could have prevented. I was in a daze for a couple of hours. My steadfast mate lisa, always thinking, called Nathan, my brother-in-law on Skype and he then dialed the credit card companies which allowed lisa to talk to them to cancel the cards. When I returned with a fresh supply of Argentinian pesos, compliments of lisa's account (and her ATM card), I finished the calls with the help of Nathan. THANKS NATHAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everything is now OK. Credit cards cancelled. ATM card cancelled. lisa had all the numbers we needed to call in case this sort of thing happened written down in a separate book. I lost about $60-80 US and the morning we spent cancelling all the cards could have been spent doing something else. And I lost the nice wallet I bought from the Bangkok wallet guy for $5.75. Damn!

Now I really need to get it out, to journal about this, even if it's in a blog. I was ripped off AGAIN in the subway today. I had maybe 400 pesos on me (estimate about $110.00 US) in large bills in one pocket and all my small stuff in another pocket. The train was extremely crowded with people squeezing in to get on the subway. I'm holding on to Siena with one hand and grasping (protecting) my backpack with the other. I didn't have a handhold so I was held up by the other people around me. Someone raises my outer right pocket and lifts the money. I didn't feel it happen. Apparently you seldom do.

When I discover the loss, I am stunned. How could this happen again? Deep in my subconscious I knew the rip off of my wallet earlier was a once in a lifetime occurrence, not something that is going to happen again three days later. I feel victimized by just being a tourist. I feel that people here are out to rip you off. Who can I trust? This has caused me to want to get on the subway and yell “HERE I AM. AN AMERICAN. A TOURIST. COME GET ME. COME TAKE MY MONEY. Would people just think I am crazy? Or would they in some small way be embarrassed for how “unsafe” their city, country and perhaps their continent is? On the other hand, New York isn't safe. Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati isn't safe. So why should a very busy, crowded part of a South American city of fifteen million people be safe? I don't know. It just should.

I'm naïve. Even after ten months plus on the road, I still am. I'm still a little kid from Morganfield in Western Kentucky where you say HI to everyone and don't lock your houses (even on vacation). Must I be callous and non trusting or am I the fool? A fool for not wearing the money belt. A fool for just not knowing better. OK Marty, enough moaning. Grow up!! I must find a way to protect myself, my family and my possessions. This isn't Oz, it's a crime possible ( I almost said crime ridden but that's a big overstatement) city. Was it only in America in 1965 when people would return a wallet with the money still in it? Maybe. Will this have a lasting impact on me? Probably not. I'll wear the money belt for awhile, at least until we get to Florida. I'll be extra vigilant, but probably only till we get home. I don't want to be paranoid. I want to trust my fellow man, whether they are white, black, red, American, Chinese, Indian and yes, Argentinian.

1 comment:

Mark in Omaha said...

Bro, please continue to be smartly naive! There are too many in this world cynical, back-watching, and very self-concerned. Being the country boy from Morganfield is to be wished for, and most folks would love to have the open attitude of being raised there. Sorry these things happened -I'm surprised that it didn't happen in one of the other countries you've visited, and glad it didn't happen to one of the girls as that could affect them more and longer - to you it's just $$. Would like to visit you guys when you're back. Email me at, my new email