Another trip to Argentina, and thank God, no unfortunate thievery, mugging or worse. It is important to have your safety radar on all the time.
I have written before how the most stressful moment of my trip in the country is taking a long distance bus in Retiro in Buenos Aires. We made it again safely through a mass of travelers. My family knows I am on edge (to say the least) when I board a taxi to Retiro.
Today, we made a short shopping trip to the pedestrian street of La Florida and Gallerias Pacifico, in Buenos Aires. Oh boy, do you need to be vigilant. First of all the street is full of people willing to exchange your foreign currency: ‘cambio cambio cambioooo’. There is a large police presence, though pockets are easily picked.
It was clear by our looks, our clothes and our interests that we were tourists. I could easily observe teams of pick-pockets swoop in. They do not look like your homeless kid. No, no, they are you average grandpa, and a few of his friends. It was very odd so see an older gentlemen follow us through the mall, stop and look at the store windows of odd store (e.g., women bathing suites) and then catch up with us again.
And while I did not understand any of their signals, there were clear indications being communicated. I figured one of the cocoon-gang who on purpose sat near us, in an otherwise empty food court, was listening in to know where we were planning to go. Soon there after I saw one of the guys previously hovering around us, pop up at the taxi stand outside. Coincidence? I do not think so. Fortunately, it was all pure entertainment, and nobody got mugged or lost any pesos.
Not only tourists need to be on constant alert. Also every day Argentines continuously live a state of fear of being robbed. Some go as far as building their houses in gated communities, with high fences and razor wire.
These country clubs most often also have 24 hours guards. Safety comes at a price.
PS - Although it is easy to write about this subject in Argentina, the problem is also back in California. My neighborhood alias, Nextdoor, is full of alerts of groups of thieves knocking on doors over the Holidays, and scoping out the neighborhood. I hope our fortune continues and our little house remains safe.