Its true that you can never really predict things in your normal day-to-day life, but this is even more the case when you’re travelling. We had officially celebrated 9 months of relative hassle free travelling, we had never had problems finding somewhere to stay, never really struggled with the transport systems and almost always found something to eat, so all-in-all it had been a stress free time.
However, on our last day in Buenos Aires, that all changed.
We had learned that travelling overnight on a Saturday was not always a great idea as most countries would observe the Sunday closure traditions. As such, we had taken to travelling overnight on Sundays and enjoyed the relatively quieter departures from bus stations.
As we were heading to Mendoza next, a 14 hour bus journey, we left Buenos Aires on Sunday afternoon. Heading off to Retiro, the bus terminal, we thought nothing of the journey. The only thing that got my senses tingling were the types of people hanging around outside the terminal. I don’t like to judge people by their appearances, but the crowds just seemed a little rougher looking than the ones we had encountered when we arrived.
Unfortunately, my senses were right, with only a few more metres to go from the entrance I heard a hissing noise, like a bottle being squeezed. Seconds later I smelt a terrible odour and when I touched my unfortunately long hair, it was covered in green slime. Within seconds a lady approached claiming it must have been a bird dropping and offered me a tissue, however I instantly noticed my partner seemed to have the same green slime all over his trousers too. We stopped for a minute and tried to get the stuff off, only to realize it would be a lost case without a bathroom to hand.
The lady then started to say that the stuff was on the backpacks and we should clean them. I had already realised what the game was here but had not been sure if she was in on it too or not. Instantly I turned around and headed straight to the bus station with my partner in tow, thinking “its bad enough I just got selected to be robbed, but I am not giving you my things that easily!”
For anyone not aware of the scam, it goes like this:
Step 1, cover victim with something such as spilled drink or in our case bad-smelling slime.
Step 2, offer help and try to get backpacks, bags etc away from victim.
Step 3, steal said bags from now double victim!
At the terminal we realised just how bad they had gotten us, we had the stuff on our trousers, bags, tops and I had it in my hair too. Armed with a change of clothes and shampoo I headed to the bathroom, praying it would wash out. Luckily, it all came out from the clothes and hair and did not leave any stains or smells behind. Needless to say the bathroom attendant was not surprised when I explained what had happened, saying “yeah that’s how they try to steal from tourists”.
Once we were both washed and changed we headed off to catch our bus for Mendoza and tried to leave the bad experience behind us. As is always the case you never know what’s coming next, and luckily following the bad came a bit of good.
The bus was brand new and they served champagne as soon as we moved off, apparently something included in our ticket that we did not know about. And so despite the foiled robbery, we sat on the bus and toasted Buenos Aires goodbye with our complimentary drinks!