18
Nov 2012
POSTED BY Brad
POSTED IN

Blog, South America

DISCUSSION 28 Comments

The Robbery

NOTE: This blog falls out of chronological order.  While our last blog was written about our trip through Cañon del Pato, Peru, this one jumps past the next several stories and takes place in the present.  I’m trying to catch up on blogs, but decided that this one should come next, despite its being out of chronological order.


We’ve been robbed.  We started this trip fully expecting not to be robbed; in fact our motto about our fellow man is, in general, people are good.  We especially didn’t think we’d be robbed in the relatively well-off country of Argentina, and even less so in the Swiss Alps-esque Lakes District with its flyfishing, chocolate shops, tea houses, and general affluence.  But we’ve been robbed, in a big way, in the Argentine Lake District.  It only takes one bad banana to make you want to bludgeon the whole group of bananas with a sock full of hot nickels.

We had just passed through the “trout capital of Argentina”; the small mountain village of Junin de los Andes.  Following the advice from my well-researched map of awesome fishing spots, we traveled five kilometers past Junin to the place where the Rio Quilquihue crosses under the road.  On one side of the road we found a parking area, and in the back corner we found a fairly secluded, flat place to park.  It would be the perfect place to camp before wrangling some fish in the morning.  We parked Nacho, locked the doors, and walked the 100 yards to the bridge to look at the water.

Arriving at the bridge we spotted a small trail leading down to the bank.  It seemed to afford a better view of the water, so we walked down it.  At our farthest point, we were 200 yards from Nacho, and almost able to see where we were parked.  No matter, we were in the middle of nowhere and there wasn’t a soul around.   We sat by the water for about five minutes, and then decided that we’d caught enough fish over the course of the last week.  It wouldn’t hurt to eat a few more meals and clear some fish out of the fridge before catching more.  We headed back to the car to travel a bit farther South.

When we arrived at Nacho, I unlocked the sliding door and got in so I could wash my hands.  Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, except that the new walking stick that Sheena found was broken in half on the floor.

“Hey Sheena, it seems your walking stick is broken,” I said.

“You BASTARD!  You broke my walking stick!”  She was clearly pissed.  She’d dragged me around the shore of Lago Tromen all morning to find this stupid thing.

“I didn’t break it, I swear!  You must have stepped on it!”

Sheena gave me the stink eye and we had a laugh, and then I got out and walked around the side of the car.  At first my mind didn’t know what to do with what I saw.

Broken glass.  Window gone.  big dent in the door frame.  Door unlocked.

I opened the door and looked inside.  My seat was covered in glass shards, and there was a dusty footprint on Sheena’s seat.  The glove box was open, the center console was open.  Sheena’s beloved walking stick was broken like the very core of her little heart.

Nobody has ever broken into our car before.  But this is more than a car; it’s our home.  Some dirty rat bastard had broken our protective shell and had gone inside of our home without our permission.

We took a quick inventory of what was missing.  The first discovery was the hardest to accept: he’d made off with our entire camera bag.  It contained our digital SLR camera, all three of our nice lenses, and all of our lens filters.  The contents of the camera bag alone were worth more than $2,000.  He also got my Kindle e-book, my iPod with all of our pictures backed up on it, our onboard air compressor, and our beloved GPS, “Shackleton”. Camera, music, navigation, air, all of my books.  In total, over $3,000.

“Did he get the computers!?” I shouted.

Sheena checked the secret computer spot and a relieved look came over her face.  We would get to keep our photos and the rest of our digital lives, but it was only a small consolation.  We felt absolutely violated.  We got in the van and headed back to Junin, feeling like we wanted to curl up and die.

Our first stop was the police department, where a very unenthusiastic officer half-heartedly filled out a police report.  “Has this happened to anyone else in this spot?” I asked.  “Oh yes,” he responded, “It happens all the time.  The campesinos are very fast.  They rob all of the tourists who park in this spot.”  This angered me even more.  If the police know that someone is robbing all of the tourists who park in a certain spot, why not set up a decoy car and put the culprit in a “don’t drop the soap” situation?

We felt horrible.  We wanted to go home.  Our faith in humanity had been shaken.  We decided to hole up in a campground for a couple of days to recover our wits.

I went onto our Facebook page and mentioned that we’d been robbed.  Almost immediately, people started asking how they could make donations to help us replace our stolen goods.  This was completely unexpected, but the word kept spreading, and before long several different people had linked to our donations page through Facebook, syncro.org, and The Samba.  Over the last 48 hours, we’ve received $985 in donations from the ranks of you awesome and generous people who follow our adventure.

To those who have donated and offered their support in one way or another over the last couple of days, we can’t thank you enough.  In a time of despair and sadness, you have pulled together and showed us that we’re not alone in this, and that our pool of friends runs much deeper than we’d imagined.  None of you owes us anything, but we’re humbled to know that so many people care about our well-being.

By the second night of our stay at the campground we’d made friends with Mathias and Andrea; two Germans exploring South America by bike.  Additionally, our other new German friends Achim and Ute pulled into the campground in their overlanding truck.  We all gathered under our awning for the evening, barbequed steaks, shared a few beers, and tried to forget about our bad luck.

In the morning, Sheena and I stood at the sink washing dishes from the previous night.  The sun was out, we could hear the river rushing by, and birds were chirping overhead.

“You know, I don’t know why, but I actually feel pretty good right now,” I said to Sheena.

“Yeah,” she responded, “that’s because we’re surrounded by love.”

At the end of the day, our motto still holds true.  In general, people are good.  Especially our people!


28 Comments

  1. Bev Beam

    I feel so badly for you guys, there is no way to describe the loss of confidence in security. I’d be happy to help you restore some of what was lost. Tell me where I can send a donation.

    Take care and be safe.

    Comment by Bev Beam on November 18, 2012 at 11:45 am

  2. Thanks Bev. Again, we don’t expect it, but if you want to donate you can go here:

    http://www.drivenachodrive.com/donate/

    Thanks, and sorry about the somber tone!

    Comment by Brad on November 18, 2012 at 11:48 am

  3. Rob

    Dammit! That sucks. I imagine the police may already be involved ;-( Stay safe. Maybe we need to ship you a “tuff box” type locker store those everyday type of valuables? Heck we all know it can happen at any mall parking lot in the states any day of the week. Of course stay safe and all the best.

    Comment by Rob on November 18, 2012 at 11:58 am

  4. “Sheena checked the secret computer spot and a relieved look came over her face. We would get to keep our photos and the rest of our digital lives.”

    Use an offsite backup like Mozy, SpiderOak, Dropbox, or whatever. The internet from Mexico through to Peru has been good enough to never be at a point where I’d lose more than two weeks worth of photos.

    Comment by einnocent on November 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm

  5. Robert Wilmoth

    Awww, that sucks. I just detest crooks. I’ve been robbed a few times, and yes, it DOES feel horrible. I never understood it ……. until it happened to me.

    Last time was in a parking lot on the flank of Mt. Ranier. Went for an overnight backpack trip and came back to find broken glass. Was a windy ride back home! ;-)

    I had friends traveling in Baja a few years ago in a rig just like Nacho. They had parked near the beach so they could watch their vehicle while they were kayaking …. they actually watched someone break into their rig, and then make multiple trips to transfer much of their stuff over to the getaway truck. Nothing they could do from a half mile out in the bay! That must’ve been a horrible feeling watching yourself get cleaned out, and not being able to do anything.

    Sorry about the hijack. Sorry about your bad luck. Glad you are able to find a silver lining in the end.

    Rob

    Comment by Robert Wilmoth on November 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm

  6. Barb Wieber (Sheena's Mom)

    Your Dad and I are so relieved that you both are safe and nothing happened to you both. Those items can all be replaced but you both can never be replaced. Enjoy your awesome journey and relax but of course be alert!!!! We all send our love and be safe from Arizona!!!! Mom

    Comment by Barb Wieber (Sheena's Mom) on November 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm

  7. Absolutely gutted for you guys. Can I ask you a question? Did you guys have a car alarm fitted to the van? I am planning a trip and am looking at maximum security for our van fully expecting to be robbed; in fact our motto about our fellow man is, in general, people are good but we will get robbed. I am thinking hard and gathering as much info as I can regards preventative measures so any feed back would be awesome.

    Good luck with the rest of the trip and keep up with the updates, I love to read your blog.

    Jed

    Comment by Jed@campervanculture.com on November 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm

  8. Those dirty sons of bitches. Pardon my french, but that’s really upsetting news. Every time I get back to our rig I expect to find broken glass or some other horrible damage, especially since our alarm is fried. For some reason the blinking red light makes me feel safer…

    This is seriously my worst nightmare right now…I don’t know what I’d do if we lost our photos. Sorry to hear about Shackleton, but at least everything is semi-replaceable except for that exact walking stick of course (although a new GPS probably wouldn’t have the same personality). We’ll donate $5 bucks so you can buy some epoxy to fix the stick :)

    You’re absolutely right, people are generally good and I know you guys are surrounded by them right now. We’re sending you guys some love from Panama too!

    Comment by Brenton on November 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm

  9. like I said on the email, I am sorry that happen to you guys specialty in argentina where I am from, we been robbed only ones in 4 years and is sucks. I will send you tru FB how we sucure ours electronics on the vanagon. and keep in mind than sara and I are going to B.A from the 10th to the 26th of dicember we are in miami, florida. if you want us to bring you something, let us know.
    put the bitter moment behind and enjoy the beutiful of the suth.

    juan

    Comment by juan llorente on November 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm

  10. Rob

    I love your positive attitudes despite a crappy situation. This seems like a case of opportunity at is worst.

    I’m reminded of a scene in Pulp Fiction:

    Lance: Still got your Malibu?
    Vincent: Aw, man. You know what some fucker did the other day?
    Lance: What?
    Vincent: Fucking keyed it.
    Lance: Oh, man, that’s fucked up.
    Vincent: Tell me about it. I had it in storage for three years, it was out five days and some dickless piece of shit fucked with it.
    Lance: They should be fucking killed. No trial, no jury, straight to execution.
    Vincent: Boy, I wish I could’ve caught him doing it. I’d have given anything to catch that asshole doing it. It’d been worth him doing it just so I could’ve caught him doing it.
    Lance: What a fucker!
    Vincent: What’s more chicken shit than fucking with a man’s automobile? I mean, don’t fuck with another man’s vehicle.
    Lance: You don’t do it.
    Vincent: It’s just against the rules.

    Safe travels, and remember – beer makes it all better.

    Rob Hayes – that guy you met that knows Grant D.

    Comment by Rob on November 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm

  11. Mike

    Why not set up a sting with your German friends and their truck in the same spot you were robbed and grab the bastards, you have lots of friends to help?
    You could get all your stuff back

    Comment by Mike on November 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm

  12. johngo

    Yes, it’s easy to start doubting your fellow man after something like this. I have been robbed while traveling, and did indeed sucks.

    However, to maybe keep it in perspective, you have been traveling for many months through countries where the average per capita income is far less than your camera and a few lenses. You’re driving a vehicle that would be the equivalent of a $300K sports car in the United States; a pretty tempting target for many people. The fact is, you have so far on your trip encountered literally thousands of people who economically are far worse off than yourself, and none of them have decided to rob you before now. So, continuing to offer a little trust in the human race perhaps is still justified.

    Having said that, I would say that a car alarm and a few more secret lockable hidey-holes in all those in all those snazzy cabinets of yours, and/or a Rocky Mt Westy under front seat lock-box is called for.

    Also, the suggestion of using off-site web backup services such as dropbox for all your photos etc. is an excellent idea.

    Comment by johngo on November 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm

  13. mangymarmots

    I just got sick reading about your misfortune. So sorry ..

    Comment by mangymarmots on November 18, 2012 at 7:48 pm

  14. It totally sucks that there are people that have no problem with helping themselves to things that don’t belong to them. I worry about this very same thing when I camp solo in the Arizona outdoors, but I have a big, aluminum box bolted in the back of my truck and if I cannot carry it with me when I leave, I lock it up in the box. I know this doesn’t help after the fact, and I have been robbed before too, so I know the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. For me, some tweaker broke into my truck and stole an Audiovox stereo – destroying my dashboard in the process. He caused about three times as much damage expense as the stupid stereo was worth – even new. Cops in AZ, pretty much same attitude, take a report and never hear from them again.

    Life goes on, you will get past it. Good thing you still have your laptop, you can get a new camera and GPS. A couple of good suggestions in these comments – a good strongbox bolted to the body, uploading your data to a safe location online, and try to get past it mentally. Don’t let it get you down, move on and enjoy life as you are living it.

    Comment by steve b on November 18, 2012 at 9:59 pm

  15. clark ferrill

    Perhaps you have too much stuff? 4000 dollars in value and you are winging it?
    Do have any idea how pathetic that sounds? Your blog should be titled blah blah blah
    I got my stick broke? What a privileged life you must live.

    Comment by clark ferrill on November 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm

  16. Dear Clark,

    I’m sorry that after 11 months we’re still not living up to your expectations. You’re still as negative as ever.

    Hugs and kisses,

    Brad & Sheena

    Comment by Brad on November 19, 2012 at 8:26 am

  17. Ernie Wieber (Sheena's Dad)

    Glad you guys are OK. Just like another great scene from Pulp Fiction. Jules has just been robbed in the cafe. He says get my wallet out of the bag, which one is it? the one that says Bad Mother F’er. unless you wallet is inscribed with Bad Mother F’er let it go, karma will catch up with the bad guys sooner or later they will meet the guy the BMF wallet.
    I feel fortunate that you were not around when your van was broken into all you lost was stuff and a false sense of security. All you need is each other and the rest is bonus. Good luck and keep your guard up. By the way I don’t think what happened has anything to do with where you are or how much money people make. There are good, bad and evil people everywhere and I don’t think the proportion is based on geography or money, heads up! FYI I would probably remove anything from this blog to do with $$ which could make you a future target.

    Comment by Ernie Wieber (Sheena's Dad) on November 19, 2012 at 10:09 am

  18. Witt

    Man that sucks. We’re leaving for South America in 6 months or so. Donation deposited in the Bank of Karma!

    Comment by Witt on November 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm

  19. mario

    arriba el animo…!!!!!!

    estan juntos
    tienen a NACHO.vivo
    tienen miles de km de buena vista y vida…………..!!!

    miles de viajeros estan con uds……………..!!!!

    arriba el animo………!!!!!!.
    saludos

    Comment by mario on November 20, 2012 at 8:04 am

  20. talonde perro

    Guys, as an argentinian, i’m so sorry for what happened to you.It happens to a lot of us living in the country, everyday. forget about the cops. I must say that you seem to be very naive….no one here would leave all those valuables inside a parked car.even with an alarm, it would be too late by the time you get there…in SA there no place away from burglars…even in the most remote areas, leave something behind and by the time you come back, it’s gone..
    I overlanded myself from Vancouver to Ushuaia and have being robbed a couple of times too. Be more careful! and a safe journey..

    Comment by talonde perro on November 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm

  21. Edward Chute

    Brad and Sheena, let me know if you need a new window. I have both a driver’s side and passenger side from a 1985 westy that you can have. I’m not sure how shipping goes for things sent to Argentina, but just thought I would offer a new window as a donation. It would come from Phoenix, AZ.

    Eddie
    edwardchute@yahoo.com

    Comment by Edward Chute on November 20, 2012 at 1:43 pm

  22. ernesto

    Las dificultades nos unen estan juntos tiene la vida y un largo camino por recorrer no se desanimen sigan adelante, en tantos meses de viaje me parece que no habia sucedido nada similir y siempre hay una primera vez….pero no se den por vencidos dicen que el verdadero amor echa fuera todo temor. un abrazo desde Costa Rica Pura Vida les sigo deseando lo mejor buena vibra, que Dios los proteja como lo ha echo hasta este dia, arriva ese animo, Sheena no este mas triste, Brad fuerza amigo…!!!!! Eso es viajar, vivir, experiencias, aventura, sonrisas, …. !!!!1 y para nacho un empujon el es fiel y valiente tambien lo a demostrado en tantos kilometros de viaje arriva ese animo.

    Comment by ernesto on November 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm

  23. Carlos

    Somos una pareja de Canadienses! Yo soy de origen Chileno y mi mujer es Quebeçoise, Del 2005 estamos viajando todos los anos a Chile (San Antonio) Nos construimos un “Cottage” para pasar nuestras vacaciones y fuimos robados dos veces mientras construiamos, tambien pensamos en vender y dedicarnos a viajar a Cuba en un 5 estrellas pero prevaliò el buen sentido comùn (el tiempo que pasamos con nuestras familias etc. el clima) asi que ànimo y a seguir viajando y descubriendo PS. nos, estaremos en Chile (San Antonio) desde el 5 de Diciembre hasta el 28 de Marso, asi que si pasan por aqui los invito a que vengan a pasar unos dìas con nostros! Bonne continuitée!!! Lyne et Carlos
    PS. PS. Tambien nos compramos una Kombi que vamos a restaurar!!

    Comment by Carlos on November 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm

  24. David Brown

    You were followed from town. After any stop always check for a tail.

    Comment by David Brown on November 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm

  25. Hey guys,

    So sorry to hear about what happened. Glad you were able to find some comfort in the community! Keep your heads high.

    Jill and Zach

    Comment by Jill on November 26, 2012 at 8:21 am

  26. [...] whatever they could find and broke Sheena’s found stick.  Here is a link to their story, http://www.drivenachodrive.com/2012/11/the-robbery/  Sorry, Sheena, but I laugh every time I see that picture of you holding the broken remains of [...]

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  28. [...] Saddest Desert Clown- Way Up High in Hatun MachayNovember 2012- Mr. Toad's Wild Ride- Ride the Reed- The RobberyOctober 2012- Into the Belly of the Duck- Shorts from the Peruvian North- Home Alone- Boobies, Whale [...]

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