When Everything Goes Wrong

In the famous words of every basic white girl ever: I can’t even.

Traveling comes with risks. Knowing this, before coming to Córdoba, I prepared myself for the worst. I made about 3,568 copies of all of my documents, bought a lot of Pepto Bismol and Imodium AD, checked in with a travel doctor and made sure the credit card company and the bank knew that I was leaving the country so my cards wouldn’t get frozen unexpectedly. I left the U.S. feeling like a very confident, very prepared traveler. There was nothing I wasn’t prepared for.

Or so I thought.

Today started off wonderfully. I woke up to a text from Inés, the owner of Centro Comunitario Esperanza, telling me to take the day off. So I took advantage of the free time and ran some errands, hung out at Starbucks and got some ice cream (dulce de leche and cookies and cream= does it get any better?) After buying my ice cream, my friend Ximena and I bumped into some other kids from the hostel who were headed to a shopping center. They invited us to tag along, and we did. Now, this is where the trouble starts.

My wallet, which contained about $1,000 pesos ($80 USD), my credit card, my debit card, my drivers license, my passport and my bus pass, was safe (I thought) in my bag. I had my wallet from the time I woke up to the time I left the ice cream store. At some point in the fifteen minutes between the ice cream store and the shopping center, some jerk decided he wanted my wallet. I turned around to find the upper flap of my bag blowing with the breeze, a large, heartbreaking, empty space where my wallet used to be. I didn’t even feel it happen.

Poof, I’m screwed.

So what did I do? I immediately ran like a crazy woman back to the ice cream store and asked about my wallet. No luck. Even before I got to the ice cream store, from the moment I laid eyes on the sad emptiness of the top pocket of my bag, I knew I wouldn’t be so lucky. I knew my wallet had been stolen, but I searched for it anyway with the hopes that maybe I had randomly stuck it in a different pocket. Nope. It was gone. I hope the thief enjoys the Wisconsin driver’s license that is very useful in Argentina. *rolls eyes*

Long story short, tomorrow I will head to the sheriff’s office to file a report, and tomorrow night I will take a short, ten-hour bus ride to Buenos Aires, the closest city with a U.S. embassy, where hopefully I will be given a new passport so I can be on my way. I’m not bitter.

Until then, I will wear my bag on the front of my body like an American tourist dad, and I will not let my valuables out of my sight, ever.

However, there is a lesson to be learned from this. Or maybe a couple. First, always keep your passport separate from your wallet. Hide it somewhere where no one can get to it. Second, always bring copies of your documents with you on your trip. Because of those 3,568 copies, the arduous process of getting a passport and money will be a little bit easier and a little bit quicker. Thirdly, they say you meet your best friends abroad, and times like these will show you who truly is your best friend. I figured that out today.

If it weren’t for Ximena, my best friend and co-worker here in Córdoba, I would be a mess. Without hesitation, she stayed with me as I ran around the city, coming with me back to the hostel, to the federal police and halfway across the city to find the sheriff’s office. Oh, and she bought me the best hotdog I have ever had, so she scores major points for that too. I am so grateful to have a friend like her: someone to lean on, someone to translate for me (because when I’m stressed my Spanish goes to absolute crap), and someone to buy me food. Xime, if you’re reading this: you rock girl.

I know everything will work out. It may require an unplanned trip to Buenos Aires and some tears, but next week I will be on my way home with a new passport and something to laugh about. This is all a part of the territory. When you travel, bad things happen. But that’s okay, because really good things happen too. Really good things, like the fact that I get to come home from Buenos Aires and spend my last week in Argentina playing with cute babies who adore me and don’t steal my wallet. Again, I am not bitter.