Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)
We’re on the verge of another viaggio–this time to South America. It’s not our first trip to South America; we went from Ft. Lauderdale to Manaus, Brazil in November and December, 2010, a voyage on which we explored most ports of call on our own. One of the most memorable was a small village on our way up the Amazon toward Manaus, the kids and the school especially. But our accommodations were aboard ship the entire time.
This time we’ll be on our own the first nine days: a week in an apartment in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires plus two days at Iguazu Falls. Then we return to Buenos Aires to board a Holland-America ship to sail around Cape Horn via the Straits of Magellan. The two-week voyage will take us to Valparaiso, Chile. Where we’ll spent two nights, then a week in Santiago.
We’ve been on our own in Europe several times. And although I really don’t sprechen deutsch, I felt less trepidation heading off last fall for a week or so on our own in Salzburg and Vienna than I do in anticipation of Buenos Aires and Santiago.
Friends who’ve been to Buenos Aires several times tell us that many people speak English. And, of course, there are many similarities between Italian (with which I have some familiarity) and Spanish. Other friends caution against flashing one’s smart phone and cash, etc. I think (hope?) I’m prepared.
A pickpocket snared wallet and camera from my small backpack-style purse in Verona, one late evening in September 2006. I realized I’d been robbed within minutes and reported the loss of credit cards, etc. via the internet right away–no harm done. We set out the next morning for the Questura di Polizia Stradale (Headquarters of the Street Police) a few blocks away, on the same side of the Fiume Adige where our apartment was.
A man standing in the parking lot next to the police headquarters called out to me as we walked across the driveway. “Diana,” he asked, “Ha lasciato il suo portofolio?” Fortunately, I speak a little Italian, so I understood his question: “Diana, did you lose your wallet?”
“Si!” I responded, and stopped walking. Gary thought I was being accosted by a gypsy. With my limited Italian, I managed to understand as the man explained that his wife was an attorney. He had driven her to the headquarters for a meeting after they’d found my wallet thrown on the ground in the parking lot near their car. The thieves had taken only credit cards and cash. He recognized me from my DMV photo! (I told this story twice when I went in to get a new license last September.) Everybody complains about how terrible DMV photos are–but this man recognized me and called me by name.
There’s more to the story, but the main thing is that I didn’t have to buy a new Coach wallet, nor file for a multitude of replacement ID cards. Our subsequent adventures in making the police report were just about worth the ~€100 in cash that I lost. And the camera was broken anyway; I’d already downloaded all but the few photos I’d taken that afternoon.
I learned my lesson. Now I have a different purse that I carry under my arm and I can latch each of the zippered compartments. I think we’ll be OK .