It’s official. I am a candidate for the 2012 World Travel Darwin Awards.
Sit comfortably in your armchairs, dear readers, because I’m about to tell you a little story about exactly the wrong way start a Round The World trip.
Everything was going swimmingly. I managed to catch my flight to Buenos Aires without throwing up from nerves all over the passport officials at OR Tambo Airport. I swiftly arranged a ride in a transfer taxi from Ministro Pistarini Airport and arrived exactly on time at my accommodation, despite the bad traffic caused by wet weather.
My host Ignacio made me a cup of coffee and we chatted happily about mountain biking, paleo diets, rock climbing and, finally, about where I could pop out and buy some groceries.
But when I went to my room to fetch my money belt, it wasn’t there.
The money belt I had put EVERYTHING I most needed into. Both my passports. My only credit card. USD500 in cash. My iPhone. My driver’s license. My vaccination certificate. And (just to make absolutely certain of disaster) the taxi ticket number and contact details of the taxi transfer company.
My relief at arriving at my destination at last had been so great that I forgot the cardinal rule of travel: always look behind you when you leave. (This applies to hotel rooms, airplanes, buses and, most especially, taxis.)
Fortunately, Ignacio is a wonderful host. He found the number of the taxi transfer company on the internet and spent ages trying to get hold of someone on the phone. When he did, he spoke to them in rapid Spanish, combining cajolery and commands, to try to get them to track down the driver and the missing money belt.
Unfortunately for me, it’s a long shot. The taxi transfer company were less than helpful and, four increasingly agitated phone calls later, it seems as if the money belt is gone for good. It looks like I will have to spend the next few days finding out more than I ever wanted to know about police stations, embassies and banks in Buenos Aires.
It’s tempting to take this as a bad sign. Perhaps even a reason to give up and go home. But I won’t. Because in many ways I’ve been really lucky. I’m staying in a place where people actually care about what happens to me and will help me sort it out. I won’t starve, because Ignacio immediately lent me some cash. I won’t even feel too sad or panicky, because Ignacio and his other guests – Petra, Nana, Wendy and Vincent – have been so sympathetic and friendly.
So don’t worry about me. Just vote for me in the 2012 World Travel Darwin Awards.
(P.S. The Darwin Awards don’t actually have a travel category. But they should – just for people like me.)
Accommodation in Buenos Aires
If you’re a solo traveller planning a visit to Buenos Aires, you can’t do better than to book a room at Mi Casa en BA. It’s a beautiful house in a central location and Ignacio is not only helpful, friendly and amazingly fluent in English, but he also has great taste in music and ice-cream.