Today was not a successful day as far as travel in South America goes. In fact, Chile hasn’t been very successful as a whole. (I know I’m still in Peru as far as my blog goes, but in physical form I am, in fact, several countries on from there…) Rain stopped me from going to the observatory in the driest desert in the world; the supermoon stopped me from seeing anything when I eventually went to the observatory in Vicuña; and today, snow stopped me from taking my bus into Argentina.
I woke up early to get my taxi to the Santiago bus terminal, and waited patiently for my bus to Mendoza. A friendly man approached me twice and reassured me that I was waiting in the right place; then he came a third time and told me that the pass to Chile had been closed. Hmm. I went to the ticket counter where they told me that, indeed, the pass was closed. I could change my ticket for another day but, “It’s going to rain the rest of the week.” What to do? I found an Internet café and looked at google maps. South was a no go due to weather, and I didn’t want to go back north – in any case, the passes were closed there too. I checked flights. Mega bucks. But contrary to my Libran nature I made a speedy decision and threw money at the problem, booking a flight to Mendoza so I could continue my journey as planned.
The flight was two hours delayed, and the turbulence at the end was the worst I’ve ever experienced. To the point that I actually considered the possibility of us crashing. Wouldn’t that be ironic, I thought, if I died after having spent so much money on this ticket.
I didn’t die. I arrived in Mendoza, to a lovely hostel with a good-looking guy in reception. I went out to buy an adapter for my chargers, and then on to the affiliated restaurant that the hostel had recommended to me. A nice waiter who had spent ten years in Utah served me, recommending a good Malbec to go with my first Argentinian steak. I got the wifi password, put my iPhone down on my right and on my left I put my iPad, on which I got to work on today’s post, about the journey from Cusco to Puno and Lake Titicaca. I thought of putting my iPhone away in my handbag as i wasn’t using it. But I didn’t.
As I sipped my wine, a boy of maybe ten came in with some leaflets about Samsung. I said the usual “no gracias” as he approached, and concentrated on my blog. He went to the back of the restaurant where he seemed to talk to the staff, then he came back past me on the way out. He reached behind me and put his leaflets on the table, I repeated “no gracias” and he picked them back up and left. Then my dinner arrived, and I looked down on the table, and it hit me. But the boy was gone. As was my iPhone.
The waiter valiantly threw down his apron and ran outside to find the boy. I took a few bites of my steak, which was delicious, but I felt sick so couldn’t eat much. The waiter came back empty handed. So instead of enjoying my dinner on my first night in Argentina, which I was already inclined to really like, I spent my evening waiting to file a police report. This being done, I have of course called to block the phone, and informed my insurance. And if someone turns the phone on, I can track it with the Find my iPhone app. But likely as not they’ll just throw the SIM card away.
What I find fascinating is the chain of events that led to this incident: the cancelled bus, the (delayed) flight, the adapters, the recommended restaurant. Every moment today has been leading up to my being in the restaurant at that exact time, with my phone on the table. Isn’t that fascinating? Destiny, anyone? Although you have to wonder what other, potentially much worse, fates have been narrowly avoided on this or other journeys. In any case, it makes me sad. And surprised, as I have made it through the poorer countries of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, as well as Chile, without any incidents. But then, ten years ago I had my wallet stolen in Copenhagen of all places (and I haven’t forgiven the Danes since).
Now before you feel too sorry for me, let’s look on the bright side of life. Du-du. Du-du, du-du, du-du. Reasons for being happy:
-I was not violently attacked.
-I’ve learned now to be always on my guard, even in a nice restaurant in a nice city in a nice country.
-We may be living in a material world but I am not a material girl.
-It was not my passport that was stolen – that would have been more of a hassle.
-My data is backed up on my iPad and/or my Mac.
-I can live without Instagram and Foursquare for a month. Really I can.
-My insurance covers the theft.
-Now I can get an iPhone 5. Or maybe 6?
-I got to visit a police station and ride in a police car.
-I’ve been inducted into the (not so) exclusive club of travellers who have had something stolen. I have a story to tell over a beer in the next hostel.
-I’ve been having an amazing sabbatical and will continue to do so.
-I have my health.
-I have a wonderful family and fabulous friends.
-Life is good. Don’t worry, be happy. Hakuna Matata baby.
Post on Lake Titicaca to follow next time, fear not.