Watch out for the thieves

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So we arrived in Mendoza feeling ok, just a little tired. The Andesmar bus was as comfy as we've had but still its bus sleeping.  When we got off the bus though disaster struck.  Kevin had to run to the loo and I had all the bags and was stupidly distracted putting my coat back into my backpack.  Some stupid/geeky looking local tourist chose that moment to come up to me and start saying stuff to me in Spanish which I found really irritating.  I turned around to look at him for a second, told him I didn’t understand him and then turned back.  By then Kevin’s small rucksack had gone.  More criminal than geeky tourist it turned out.  Classic trick on their part and I’m very pissed off that I fell for it.  The feeling was indescribable when I realised.  A wave of panic/sickness and then I couldn’t breathe properly.  Some guy from Andesmar walked passed at that exact moment saw me and started asking me what was wrong as I was on the verge of hyperventilating and crying.  But in this state I couldn’t even think of one Spanish word.  As I still had all the other bags and Kevin was still in the toilet I couldn’t even try and see which way the guy went.  Kevin finally came back and I was suddenly able to speak and I yelled at him that it was gone so he ran through the terminal looking for someone with him bag.  No point…it was long gone.  Then the realisation sunk in that our passports were in there.  Sickness again.  And our driving licences – not usually an issue but as our plans in Argentina include driving from Bariloche to Ushuaia this was a problem.  Our whole plans in Argentina ruined because some prick thought he deserved out stuff.  Eventually we realised there was nothing we could do and went to the police station in the terminal.  I was still crying non-stop and Kevin was the one in charge! We wrote down a list of everything in the bag and as a small victory to us realised that they didn’t get anything of any value to them – no money, no bank cards, at best a very old malfunctioning iPod and a cheap pair of binoculars.  Only a small victory as it didn’t change the fact what we had lost that was important to us, but somewhat comforting nonetheless.  We were actually pretty quick in giving a statement to the police and getting the report.  Two of the policemen were quite rude to me, obviously thinking I was an idiot.  This attitude really annoys me because regardless of what scams there are to be aware of etc. I’m still the victim when someone thinks they can take a bag that isn’t theirs – they’re the criminal afterall.  Anyway we finally got in to Mendoza city (me still crying!) and decided that we would stay somewhere nice with good wifi as we had a lot to sort out.  

As is the case with two 30 year olds when they are in trouble, we called our parents!  Kevin first whilst I had a shower to calm down.  We have to say a massive thank you to them, particularly our mums, for putting themselves out to help us calm down and get sorted as quickly as possible.  It was actually very frustrating as it happened on a Saturday and nothing was open on the weekend – embassies, insurance company, driving licence offices! So we spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday watching cable tv, trying to guess what our new plan might be and 'what-ifing’ the situation.  

On Monday morning we were all geared up to call our embassies.  Mine opened at 8.45am according to the weekend recorded message so I called at 8.50am.  Still the recorded message.  So I tried at 9am.  Still shut.  So I called the London number who told me to wait 15 minutes and he would get them to turn the phones on.  9.15am same message.  At 9.25am the message was changed to a ‘closed on public holidays’ message telling me they would reopen on 24 July.  At this point I was not very impressed with the British Embassy.  When I eventually did get through to someone it was the operator, who transferred me through to the ‘press 1 for so and so, 2 for so and so’.  When I made a choice it put me through to the operator who put me back through to the options menu and so this went on for 5 minutes.  I told the guy my problem, he just put me through, I asked if anyone was in, he didn’t answer and put me through, I asked for his name, he put me through, Kevin yelled at him, he put me through…… In the end I called London and some lovely lady gave me all the information I needed!  Kevin was heading the same way as me, with no answer and then being hung up on a number of times but he eventually got through to an Irish guy who again was very helpful.  We both started to feel positive as both countries issue emergency passports within hours.  

With this done we decided not to let the arsehole who had stolen from us get us down anymore and caught a bus to Maipu, which is close to a lot of the wineries in the Mendoza region.  Our plan had been to spend a day cycling around but as we didn’t have time we just took a recommendation from Donnchadh and Lucy’s time here and went to Di Tomasso for lunch.  It was a gorgeous setting having dinner right across from their vines and the bottle of wine helped to calm us down some more.  We did the wine tour and tasting too, which was interesting as it’s a really old winery and we could see the old fermentation tanks and the way it used to be done.  Obviously we bought a bottle of wine to take away and then realised we should make a move back to Mendoza as we had a bus to Buenos Aires to catch.  We panicked a bit when the girl said the buses weren’t regular however we just hitched a ride to town and picked up a bus there to Mendoza.  
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