I Was Robbed In Buenos Aires In Broad Daylight

I spent the day in the city centre. I didn’t have much time to explore the city the last time when I was here so I took this opportunity to have a detailed look this time. I visited all the touristic places like the cathedral, the palace, Colon theatre, obelisk, May Avenue, Cafe Tortoni, etc. All these places asked for an entrance fee except for the cathedral and Cafe Tortoni. For the latter, I needed to dine in. I didn’t want to spend any money just to see how ‘grand’ inside so I only stayed outside.

Buenos Aires
Street vendor selling souvenirs
Other tourists
The cathedral
The cathedral. Beautiful.
A famous painting
I was playing with the focus.
Still, inside the cathedral.
The famous May Avenue
Cafe Tortoni
The colourful graffiti
This area reminds me of an area in London.

As I was walking towards Colon Theatre, I felt something wet on my back. I thought it was water from the air conditioners of some buildings along the pathway where I was at. I was extremely careful as I was traveling by myself. I carried my backpack on the front and right after I took photos, I put my camera inside my backpack. I didn’t stop. I kept walking. Then I felt the wetness again. I kept walking until I reached a glass window of a shop. I looked at my own reflections and touched it. I had cream all over my back. It was quite disgusting in a way. I looked up to see if it was because of some malicious acts done by people living in the building but couldn’t find anything. I started to look for a washroom to clean it up. Then a woman came up to me holding a piece of tissue in her hand and said, ‘let me help you.’ I said, ‘thanks. That’s very kind of you.’ I started wiping off the cream on my back. She also helped me. She was with another guy. Then she started telling me to take my backpack off and put it on the ground. I didn’t see the need. My backpack was still on my front. Then I started seeing cream on my trousers and my front, my arms. I didn’t know where it came from. I was still carrying my backpack. She told me to put my backpack down again and instructed me to put it away from me. I didn’t. I put it between my legs. That was the time when I saw some more cream on my legs. The woman then started telling me to put my backpack away somewhere close to a building or something. I started hearing a voice, ‘don’t trust anyone.’ It was an advice given to me before I went to South America by another WCCM coordinator. No, I didn’t want to trust that woman but I was in a mess. I put the backpack away but it was still within my reach and I made sure I could see it. Then another guy walked slowly and stealthily towards my backpack and took it away. I immediately pushed the lady and her companion away and chased after that guy, grabbed his arm and took my backpack back. Another guy from across the road shouted to the robber in Spanish. The robber shouted back to him. They knew each other. I didn’t understand what they said but I didn’t care. I only cared about my backpack. I took it back. The so-called kind and helpful woman and her companion were nowhere to be found. The 3 of them worked as a group.

It happened outside Colon Theatre which was not a usual spot for this kind of thing to happen.

I went inside Colon Theatre to look for the washroom. When I went into the washroom, all the ladies looked at me. My top was covered with white cream. I wiped and wiped. I was too busy wiping and at the same time I had to make sure no one was trying to take my backpack.

Javier asked me if I had been robbed. The ominous feeling that I had foretold this episode.

After this episode, I went to El Ateneo which was originally a theatre but turned into a bookshop. It still kept the original architecture so it looked very grand inside. I had late lunch at the cafe inside the bookshop. As I was eating, I recalled the incident and I started to feel scared. The more I thought of it, the more scared I was. I had had some other plans for today like going to the cemetery but I cancelled it. I decided to go back to the hostel. I really didn’t have the mood anymore.

Al Ateneo
Inside El Ateneo. The stage became the dining area.
It was really a beautiful bookshop.

I took the metro and returned to my hostel. As I walked back to the hostel from the metro station, I saw a church. It was open. I went in, sat down and prayed. Then the Mass began. I felt calm but was still a bit unsettled.

None of my friends responded to my message but He immediately answered it and even gave me a refuge.

I went back to the hostel. I had no appetite and I didn’t feel like dining out. I just went to the supermarket and bought some instant noodles for dinner. I also bought the bus ticket to Mar del Plata from the reception even though they charged me 18 peso as a service fee. I just didn’t have the mood to do anything.

After I ate, I talked to some backpackers. I told them what had happened and that I had no appetite. Suddenly, I said ‘no, I shouldn’t think about it anymore. Tomorrow is another day. Otra dia. I shouldn’t hang on to it. I shouldn’t let it affect me.’ All of a sudden, my appetite came back. That’s another lesson. ‘I shouldn’t hang on to anything. Life goes on. When I wake up tomorrow, it is going to be another day, another beginning. Our life is like this. It is not about forgetting. It is about letting it go. And at the same time, learn a lesson.’ The backpacker heard that and saw me cheering up, he then said, ‘yeah! Tomorrow is another day.’

9 January 2013

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