Another Rough Start
Trip Start Oct 14, 2010
35Trip End Ongoing
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After arriving in Buenos Aires without a hitch, changing some money, finding my way to the shuttle bus, and then walking the last four blocks to my hostel without incident, I was feeling good. Trip off to a significantly better start. Gorgeous city at hand, recommendation for a restaurant secured. Check. Enter first hitch—no locks provided at the hostel. Ok, where do I get one? Two blocks down. Ok. So, now I have a quandary: leave important items in an unlocked locker, or take them with me? I'm sure you see where I am going with this…
I opted to take everything with me for the two block walk. I loaded nearly all of my money and my cards into my money belt and set off. I went to the store, bought a lock, and headed back to the hostel. As I was walking back two boys around 13 or 14 passed me. “Interesting,” I thought “pay attention to that one, Jenna.” But they kept going and I stopped at my hostel door. Well, in the time it took me to reach for the buzzer, they turned around, ran at me, and grabbed me. With their fingers gripping and scraping my bare shoulders they started to shake me demanding my bag. I fought them, saying “no, no, no!” until a sudden moment of mortality hit me—this is not worth dying over. They could have a weapon. Well, in that moment my grip slackened and they took off, my bag in hand. Ipod, camera, wallet, passport—gone.
I screamed after them that I had been robbed and a man on the corner ran after them, shouting. A few minutes later as I still stood shaking outside the hostel door the man appeared, my bag in hand. My wallet, camera and ipod were gone, but my passport was still there. According to the man, the boys were fishing things out of my bag as they ran and then threw it into the street and kept going.
I was incredibly thankful that my passport was still there, and relieved that all of my cards and money were on my body, but I was still completely rattled by what had just happened to me. I had been robbed. By boys. Boys who are only a little older than my students. I wanted to cry, but the tears were stuck behind my eyes. All I could do was shake. I thanked the man who helped me profusely and walked, dazed, into the hostel.
For hours after, I wandered listlessly from the common room, to the dorm room and back, sitting down only to get up again minutes later, agitated. I called my parents reluctantly, not wanting to worry them, but feeling I had no one else to turn to. The people at the hostel were sympathetic, but none of them understood that what I needed more than words of apology was a simple hug. So I sat on the floor of the empty dorm room, hugging myself, still unable to cry. I took a shower and went to bed. But I didn’t sleep. I lay there, replaying everything over and over in my head. When I did sleep I dreamt of it, and woke with a start still feeling their fingers digging into my skin.
The next morning I got up, bought a new camera and checked out of the hostel as quickly as possible. I had already planned to go to Patagonia, and quite honestly I couldn’t get out of Buenos Aires fast enough. I made my way to the bus station by taxi, found my terminal, and waited with an iron grip on both of my bags. I think I had slept maybe a total of four hours the night before, and I hadn’t eaten in nearly 24. I just wanted to get out of Buenos Aires. Everything else was irrelevant.
And, another 24 hours later I was in Bariloche, Patagonia—stiff, sore and tired, but looking at some of the most gorgeous landscape I have ever seen. Things were going to get better. I was ok, I was surrounded by beauty, and now I could cry. So I did.