Friday, 30 November 2012

How to lose your stuff in 1 day...

Well I guess "lose" was not the right word... our stuff was STOLEN in Cochabamba!! We were robbed of all our valuables: our laptop, IPad, cameras, IPod, external hard drive, Kindle, alpaca clothing, brand new backpacks, bank cards AND our passports!! And it got worse from there. That was just the beginning to a downward spiral of bad bad luck during our stay in Bolivia. Here´s our story....


We had been travelling for 4.5 months in Latin America with everything going well until some revolting, waste-of-space, wish-he-would-be-run-over, disgusting-cretan-of-the-earth (to put it nicely) stole all our possessions! And it was done so sneakily!

We took the overnight Boliviar bus from La Paz at 11pm to Cochabamba (B90 cama, 7.5h). Arriving at 6am with barely any sleep, we chose not to risk getting in some dodgy-looking taxis and walk the 10 blocks to our hostel. We chose hostel Nawpa House; that was mistake number 1.

We were shown into the hostel by this guy who was waiting at the gates of the hostel entrance. He showed us in, helped us take of our bags and the engaged in a conversation with the receptionist about getting us a room and discussing prices. We assumed he ran the hostel or at least worked there. Mistake number 2.

We were given a good price of B80 for a twin room, we paid and then walked the 15m with the receptionist and the guy to see the room, leaving our bags "safe" at the reception. We were hesitant but we were assured by the guy that they were fine. Mistake number 3.

It only took 1 minute. From poking our heads in the room to walking back to the reception to find ths guy and our brand new small backpacks with ALL our expensive valuables AND passports GONE! I panicked ran out the hostel down the street but there was no sign of the guy. Hysterical, we demanded the cooly indifferent receptionist to call the police. She said the police "don´t come here." Livid with rage, we had to take a taxi to the police station.

Again, "station" was not the right word. More like battered "hole-in-the-wall" with carefree, unsympathetic men in jeans and t-shirts. This made me even more angry. We were taking to the back "office" which was actually a dark, dingy room with broken windows, walls with holes and peeling paint, a broken washing machine and a desk with a cracked plastic chair. Not exactly professional.

We gave our statement with the best Spanish we could, struggling to find the words for our stolen belongings (I would have looked them up but my dictionary was also stolen!). One of the policemen wrote it down and then told us to wait. We did, for 20mins. They did not even have a bathroom and the woman selling water didn´t feel like selling me water!

Eventually we asked what the hell was going on and another policeman told us we had to buy the police report (B10). Thanks for telling us. We bought two and were told to come back later at 11am for the statement and with the receptionist to try and identify this guy. The fact that they didn´t even ask what colour our bags were made me very doubtful they were even going to consider helping us.

We spend the next 1.5h calling home, banks, insurance companies to cancel cards and report our missing passports...that was very expensive. We then returned the useless receptionist to the police station at 11 (she made us pay for the taxi despite letting a stranger look after her guests! Stupid woman!). No luck with the police line-up of course. We simply flicked through photos on the computer. Hunfreds of fat men who looked nothing like our guy.

By the time we got back to the hostel, it was 2pm and we were shattered and hungry. Luckily there was a veggie restaurant, Gopal, attached to our crappy hostel. Afterwards, we wandered aimlessly around Cochabamba for a deck of cards and a bottle of wine to drown our sorrows. We were miserable to say the least.

The next day we checked out and headed straight to the bus station to go back to La Paz so we could apply for emergency passports (for information on what to do if your passport is stolen abroad click here). We only had a few minutes to find food at the station before our bus at 10.30. Of course there was only fried, non-veggie food. So after arguing with a useless, rude restaurant worker in the bus station, we settled for a beef and salad sandwich for Harry and a lettuce and tomato sandwich for me. Mistake number 4.

Our supposedly 6h bus ride turned into 8.5h. When we arrived back in La Paz we were tired and hungry and still very upset, angry and stressed. It was Saturday night and we knew we had to wait until Tuesday morning to apply for our replacement passports at the British Embassy.

We checked back into The Adventure Brew hostel, and tried to order some dinner at the bar. We missed the last order. Totally fed up, I went to bed to try and forget the last 48hrs, hoping tomorrow would be better... it was worse!

We woke on Sunday morning with terrible stomach aches, diarrhoea and Harry had thrown up 3 times. We struggled to get out of bed or eat much and worked out we had food poisoning from the lettuce in our sandwiches. We were warned about eating raw vegetables in Bolivia from unreliable places so this is my warning to you:

Do not eat raw vegetables unless you can be sure they have been cleaned in safe water!

The next day we felt a little better and managed to walk to the supermarket on the other side of town for some retail therapy and some familiar junk food. Still feeling weak, we forced ourselves to eat soup that evening and even some chocolate so we could have something in our empty stomachs; mistake number 5.
 
On Tuesday morning, the day we were to go to the embassy, I was in so much pain I had to go to the hospital. Doubled over, we took a taxi to the a clinic near all the embassies in the east of La Paz, where we had to give blood and stool tests (lovely). This was when I started to throw up and was given two massive injections to stop being sick and to numb the pain. I spend most of the time curled up in the hospital bed while Harry hunted down our prescribed drugs from the farmacy. Thankfully our doctor was lovely and seemed concerned so she just let me take up her waiting room.

Still unable to eat and had no energy and continued to throw up any water I tried to hydrate myself with. This went on for 2 more days as the antibiotics enhanced my nausea. After 4 days without food and having been severely dehydrated I finally stomached some food and was on the road to recovery.

So all-in-all, mountains of drama, stress, pain, anger, tears and overall just plain fed up! Now came the tricky part, we had to sort out all the mess that follows losing your passports. More on this on the next blog...


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