Going into Argentina, theft wasn’t something that I was strongly worried about. I knew to always be careful because robberies happened everywhere, but it wasn’t something that made me so paranoid. I remember my Italian teacher telling my class that when we go abroad we must lose our Minnesota nice because it would only get us into trouble. There’s so many people that will deceive us because they know we’re foreigners and because we don’t know the language well.
Being here, everything that my teacher told me was correct. I noticed that the people here can tell that we’re Americans not just from of our accents, but because of they way we walk, look, and act. We don’t even have to say anything, and they already know we’re not from here. Because of all these things, some people have concluded that they can be rude and disrespectful when we clearly understand what they’re spitting out of their mouth. However, this kind of behavior isn’t the only thing we must condone as a tourist.
DANGEROUS PEOPLE Tuesday of this past week, three students and I went to check out a soccer stadium of one of their local teams in a part of Buenos Aires in a neighborhood called La Boca. We’ve been to a tourist area in La Boca before during our group tour and wanted to see more of the stadium. We knew that La Boca was more of a sketchier area compared to the neighborhoods we live in, but we were told that if we went during the day and stayed in the touristy area, we would be fine.
After mesmerizing the stadium around 4pm, we walked a block away, and found ourselves robbed on the approximate street where the bustling of people were. One guy pulled up his shirt, showed us his gun, and told us to give him and his two accomplices, a female and another male, our belongings and so we had no choice but to hand them over. They all had their helmets protecting their identity, and they fled the scene right away on motorcycles.
We had computers, money, jewelry, Spanish textbooks, and bags that were stolen. From myself, they took my bag filled with my prescription glasses, camera, windows phone, the phone I bought here, house keys, and some miscellaneous items. However, luckily one of us had a sock necklace that was filled with money. If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t have had any money for a taxi. We went to a friend’s homestay to call the Fundación and to tell our homestay parents to change the locks right away.
It’s been almost a week since this traumatizing event, and I feel that everything has almost been back to normal. The few days after, I just felt horrible and just wanted to go home after lunch with friends. However, after the days passed by, I slowly felt that I could trust this city again. I’ve definitely been more attentive with my surroundings every time I’m out and about, but I’m losing the fear of being robbed to just relax and enjoy the month I have left here. These things can happen to anyone even back in the States, but it’s more prone here because we’re tourists. It’s something to always be prepared for when you’re out of the country.
PEOPLE WITH THE LARGEST HEARTS The past days wouldn’t have been better if it weren’t for all the people I’m surrounded with in this city. My host family has been a huge support system for my roommate and me after the situation, and has definitely made sure we’re mentally fine. The teachers and program leaders at the Fundación has really comforted us as well telling us stories that has happened to them and that we’ll be okay. The friends that we’ve made here as well have definitely brightened our days and made the sun shine brighter. Honestly, without them, I wouldn’t be having a great time here.
It was also so heartwarming that a stranger could sympathize with me. Two days after the incident, I went to go pick up my laundry. However, I didn’t have my ticket because it was my bag that was stolen. I told her the story, and she gave me my laundry for free. I insisted on paying, but she said “How could my angels protect you if I made you do that?” I asked for a hug, and left the store just in a great mood. It’s people like these that really make you trust humanity again.
My family and friends at home had really comforted me so much as well. They’ve all told me to just relax and enjoy the rest of my time being here, and to come back home quickly and safely. As much as I enjoy being in this new world, I can’t wait to go back to see them.
So a lesson from being in Argentina: You’ll encounter Dangerous People, but you’ll find more People with the Largest Hearts