Vagabonding Field Reports: Surviving my first armed robbery attempt in Argentina
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?
A gold coloured gun as it was being stuck at my nose by a young man on the streets of Mendoza. I’m no gun expert, but something felt weird about the gun. Also, the young man holding it was smaller than I was and for some reason, that made me feel more surprised at the experience than afraid. But the gun sticks out in my mind very distinctively.
Describe a typical day:
Mendoza is all about the wine. Either you’re drinking it in the restaurants, at the vineyards or just in your hostel. Mendoza is flowing with great tasting and inexpensive wines. A typical day is usually walking along the tree lined streets or renting a bike out in the nearby wineries. We almost always pack our own lunches but for dinner, we’ll buy a couple of steaks and cooking them in our hostel. The quality of the beef is so high that it’s almost impossible to mess up, even for a terrible cook like myself.
Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:
I talked to an older French fellow who had recently retired and purchased an old, rundown winery as a retirement project. I asked him if he knew anything about wines or even if he had set out to get into the wine business. Basically, his answer was “no” across the board. After living in Argentina and working for a French company for a while, he decided not to go back to France just spontaneously decided on buy a winery. He thought it would be fun. So he’s now poured his life savings into the business and is living out his life in the beautiful landscapes which is the Mendoza wine region. Talk about living life on your terms and being open to possibilities.
What do you like about where you are? Dislike?
Argentina, compared to most of South America, is certain well developed. Also, the wine is really great value. It’s been a while since I was in Australia but I would say that the two are reasonable comparisons in terms of value for your dollar.
Coming from Bolivia, I found Argentina to be much more money focused. Basically, everyone starts asking for tips after you cross the Bolivian/Argentinian border. It was a stark contract to the experience on the Bolivian side where money is certainly less plentiful but not as powerful a presence.
Describe a challenge you faced:
The attempted armed robbery was the biggest challenge I faced in Argentina. After 13 months of being on the road, this was my first robbery attempt. The thugs didn’t get what they wanted – they wanted my wife’s backpack – since, basically, they weren’t willing to shoot me in the streets for it and I wasn’t physically intimidated by them. In the end, we ran past/around them and make a scene that pretty much scared them off.
What lesson did you learn?
Basically, if you want to rob someone and you do it in plain daylight, it’s not enough just to have a gun. You need to convince the other person that you are serious. I don’t plan on robbing anyone of course, but if I did, I’d start by being as intimidating as I possibly could before I pulled the gun out.
Flying back to Toronto to end our journey where it began 13 months ago.