Sunday, January 4, 2009

Taxi Scam

By Louise

Thanks to a short, stocky, old man with gray hair and his much younger, chubby, darker-skinned female friend our kids don’t have any math books. No, this isn’t part of some new-age unschooling thing we've launched into. We were robbed.

We had been in Buenos Aires for 45 minutes and were waiting for the apartment rental agency to bring us our keys. It was early, we were exhausted from a sleepless overnight flight. The street was quiet. The couple mentioned earlier appeared at the apartment building door the same time we arrived. And within moments they had grabbed the kids’ backpack and dashed into a taxi. Realizing what had happened I chased them, grabbed the door of the car, and started shouting. They fought. There was a distraction. They got away.

Unfortunately, the pack had all the math books, the kids’ journals, Graham’s camera, and three pairs of sunglasses that Katharine stashed before we left.

It was a rotten thing to happen within the first hour of our arrival. Needless to say, within 20 minutes it dawned on us that we had been set up by an official airport-approved taxi.

When you arrive at the Buenos Aires airport you’re bombarded with flyers about gypsy cabs. So we did what you’re supposed to do and went to the official taxi stand and made a request. When we got in the car we handed the driver the paper from the taxi service that gave the cross streets of our apartment. The driver asked if we were going to a hotel and we told him no. He then placed a phone call and while on the phone asked for our apartment address—twice—long before we were even near the city.

Andrew and I have always been alert travelers. Living in NYC taught me to pay attention. I’ve never been robbed; maybe I’m lucky, I don’t know. Now, in hindsight, the whole thing seems like a page out of a thief’s textbook. I felt like a fool for being taken. I do keep on reminding myself that we were exhausted and dazed but we did have our wits about us enough to have our passports in a pouch safely around Andrew’s neck and our computer in a pack secured to my back. Why bring this first-day event up on our last day? Because a few friends have shared with me their bad travel experiences, so I thought I would share mine in the hopes of preventing this from happening to someone else.

Fortunately, this did not set the tone for our stay. I love Buenos Aires and am very sad to leave. Katharine, on the other hand, is kicking herself for not sliding at least one pair of sunglasses into a suitcase.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Que lastima. We are sorry that you had to learn a lesson in foul humanity this way. We will take precautions here.Can you report this to airport? Do you have driver's name or # ?
To your credit, you did not let this incident keep you from enjoying BA.