In a blink of an eye I was pickpocketed. I could kick myself as I am always overly cautious. I was taking a bus to visit another part of town. After the first bus, I left the bus platform thinking that is how I would change buses. I took out my phone to translate a question. After I found out I had to return to the platform I had left, I put the phone back in my pocket instead of the backpack.
To get back to the bus platform, I passed through a busy flea market and someone squirted me with water. Two women stopped after this happened, one started to “kindly” dry me off and other “kindly” opened my pocket and grabbed the phone. I realized seconds later, but they and the phone were gone.
I was tricked by a professional, but none the less I should have known better and that makes me feel angry, frustrated and stupid. On the positive side, I didn’t lose my passport, any credit cards or money and I am alright.
I immediately returned to the hostel, which I am quite surprised I found my way back by public transportation in the state I was in, but I did. I called T-Mobile on the computer and reported the phone stolen and shut down the account. Then I changed all my computer passwords.
After that flurry of activity, I realized I hadn’t eaten but I was exhausted. So I tried to lie down, but couldn’t. It seems it was a better idea to start walking to the center of town. I picked up a Bogotá Beer Company: Chapinero Porter and an arepa stuffed with meat and cheese and came back to the hostel.
Things were looking up as the beer was really good and the arepa quite decent. But back to the story.
While I was eating and drinking, I started telling a few of my roommates who were in the kitchen about what happened, one of them, David offered me a burner phone of his that didn’t work as a phone, but if I just needed a clock and alarm it was fine. But I wanted my own working burner phone, so I could make and receive calls and texts. I asked David if he would go out with me to buy a phone and he said no problem.
Off we went to the store, only to discover since it was Saturday, that Claro, a local cell phone provider, closed at 4:30 pm and we arrived just after that. I was teetering on keeping it together, but I was.
Setting up my new mobile phone
I felt naked without a phone of some sort. David reassured me that he would loan me a phone tonight and we could go out looking for a cheap phone tomorrow. But as luck would have it, we passed a Claro kiosk and I found a cheap burner phone, Avvio 292 that also had a camera, video recorder, an FM radio, Bluetooth and a flashlight for Pesos $54,500 about $28 with a Pesos $10,000 credit. It is 2G technology but that’s fine.
There is no way that this going to ruin my visit, although I have a bad taste in mouth about Bogotá, I am not going to judge everything by this one incident. Plus when I needed help it was there.
Postscript: I just shared this story with the woman who owes the hostel. She told me her teacher in India teaches that when someone steals from you they also steal some of your bad karma. I leave you with that as well.