Robbed on the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica

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As I finished my surf trip in Nicaragua, I started to go home, which for now it´s Costa Rica.

My luggage was a big packpack with clothes and stuff, a small day backpack with all the important values (money and electronics) and a longboard.

To make that crossing, you have to walk around 500 meters because they moved the actual border back (or forward if you are in Costa Rica). Well, I got myself a helper on the Nicaraguan side to walk my big backpack and the board. Half way, he charged me US$3.00 and passed me to another helper who had a little cart pushed by a bike with a seat and a roof (it looked like a modern riquixa or tuk-tuk). He biked us to the office where I would stamp passports in the Costa Rican Federal Police.

The helper then charged me US$6.00 (but ended up receiving US$10.00 because of whatever lack of change and me wanting to take off immediately), and offered himself to watch my stuff while I went inside the building. I did it. I walked into the building caring my small back pack only, forgetting that I had exceptionally and temporarily kept a little bag with US$150.00 cash and my bank card inside the big backpack. Damn!

You guess what happened already.

When I arrived in my first stop in Costa Rica and looked for that little bag, it was gone.

Luckily I had another US$150 dollars on me. I canceled my card, and asked for another one (without knowing it would take me 3 weeks to receive it).

Then, another robbery happened next to me.

On my second bus, just one hour away from San Jose, a girl sitting in front of me got her little backpack stolen. It was sitting under her legs and the thief grabbed it while everyone in the back of the bus was asleep or far away listening to music, and got down using the rear door.

The girl was left with nothing (necessary I mean): no money, no passport, no camera, no journal. And no language, she was from Switzerland and didn´t speak any Spanish.

So what could I do, besides helping this girl, right?

I waited for her to stop crying and told her I´d help her when we arrived in San Jose and when we did, we caught a taxi and went to the Swiss embassy where she would be taken care of, easy like that. I even offered her lunch, but she didn´t accept it.

It was kind of funny, a recently robbed girl helping another robbed girl. I couldn´t understand how come no one else on the bus offered  for help, most of them didn´t see she was being taken care of by me, but everyone was aware of the robbery.

I probably had more compassion to offer having gone through something similar, like a moment before.

Do we get afraid now?

I guess all travelers have one or a bunch of stories to tell about robbery or missing things, it´s almost part of traveling. Dave tells in detail about his armed robbery in Colombia on this post, and ends saying how it won´t make him fear traveling.

Wherever there are tourists with their electronics and wallets, there´ll be people after that, it´s a fact of life. Actually, wherever there´s people with more than others, there´ll be robbery. And if you have more than others (the fact that you have internet access shows that you do), you´ll be robbed every now and then.

That´s why I bought a cheap net-book (affiliate link) for this trip and left my cool note-book back home.

I won´t stop trusting people because of this. I still have people watch my bag whenever I feel I need it. I won´t fear traveling. I´ll rather take more simple precautions like always have money in my pocket and a second card ready with someone I trust back home to send it in case I need it  (forget about bank assistance, rely on friends or family for that).

I actually feel really grateful

After the robbery and feeling angry and vulnerable, I felt really grateful that I didn´t lose my documents, all my cash money, and that I do speak the local language.

I felt really grateful because I was going back to a place with friends that could totally back me up for a few weeks with housing and food and even delaying the school payment for this time (and to think I got to that place only 6 months before).

I felt really grateful for still being able to help someone else. Somehow helping others has something to do with ourselves, it´s almost selfish. Besides,  I´ve been learning that the more help you need, the more help you have to give, it´s a crazy equation of life.

I´m grateful that I´m the robbed one and not the one robbing. In this world we live in, I really don´t blame people that recur to crime to live.

It would be really shallow of me to be pissed off just at that one individual with a screwed up life. I get miserable thinking about how the world sucks and how inequality creates this kind of situation.

And as pessimistic as I can get when thinking about how the world sucks, I think there is still hope for change. I believe we can evolve and make our socio-economic systems work for the benefits of everyone.

I believe in a better future and in the ideas of The Venus Project, which is about ending politics, wars and inequality by using technology with a humanistic approach to guarantee the basic needs of life for everyone. Our current system makes us used to scarcity, when in reality we could use our resources and knowledge eficiently to make us all live with abundance.

Well, back to being robbed in the first place, everything turned out ok, like it usually does.

Photo Credit






This article was originally posted on Tripping Mom by Marilia Di Cesare on September 12, 2011. Republished with authorization. Click here for all other posts.


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