I don’t mean to bundle pickpockets and cabbies into the same category but I have only ever been susceptible to the latter ripping me off in Argentina.
On the UK Yahoo! website today http://uk.travel.yahoo.com/p-promo-2946038
Buenos Aires has been ranked the seventh worst place to be pickpocketed by Trip Advisor.
The old yoghurt drink trick is a popular way of getting you to voluntarily part with your bag or coat, often because a helpful thief offers to relieve you of it as they clean you down. Grin and bear the touching up – rather that than calling all your credit card operators with the bad news that your card was stolen.
Another test of mettle is the transvestite testicle grab. Just two weeks ago, late one Friday night, a trannie, heaving bosum in tow, leapt out of a taxi and tried to manhandle a friend. (No names mentioned here…) We told him to keep his hands firmly in his pockets and run, if possible. His iPhone remained where it should have done…
I’ve just touched some wood as I’ve never been on the end of a pick pocket’s nasty little habit. But I have been conned by taxi drivers. When it’s the odd five-peso note, which happened in Mar del Plata, well, you can let it go frankly. Could be a mistake or a small amount of bravado.
But the other day, by taking an eye off the ball for the briefest of moments, I was stung for 50 pesos while my roomate was stung for a further $100, all in the same journey. The shame.
How? The driver, who chatted and buddied his way into our hearts, did some nifty finger work and gave me some change. I was about to shut the door and wander off into the night when boom! “Sorry love, that fifty’s a fake.” Clearly I wasn’t expecting that, so my flat mate handed over a $100 bill. Some more magic, “haven’t you got anything smaller?” and a dodgy note later, it was all so quick and we had no idea what had happened.
A chat with some mates over ceviche last night put losing some money in perspective for me, however. A taxi driver pulled a gun on a girl and threatened to take her to his “brothers. ” She leapt out of the moving vehicle and was lucky to escape with two broken ankles.
I don’t want to bitch about all taxi drivers. But an editor friend has chatted with cabbies who admit they do get together to brag about how much they rip the foreigners off for. Gringo baiting…
I need to keep a sense of perspective over this as I do have my ankles in tact, but I felt foolish to say the least. The lesson? Keep your wits about you on all methods of transport.