Diss-Claimer. (Yes, Dis with another "S." And as for those who actually followed the first time, I apologize LOL:)
(Back by popular demand for the great grammarians who frequent this site: This is the Re-Mix!)
It could start with "you never think it can happen to you," or "just when you thought it was safe." But why go out that way or for that matter come in that way, it's as cliche as an American tourist getting yapped for his belongings on a trip to foreign country.
(I didn't think it would happen to me.)
Rewind. (That means go back, to a particular point in this story.)
A red-headed graduate student who couldn't be more American if she was Betsy Ross' daughter's daughter's daughter's daughter, was sitting there talking to me. More aptly talking at me, more specifically, not shutting up. "Uh-huh, yeah, damn that's messed up," is all this blogger could manage to retort.
(I'm "this blogger," by the way.)
She talked about her work in psychology and feigned embarrasment went I pointed out that she had on flip-flops that said "Harvard," and a key chain necklace that said, guess what, "Harvard." Oh yeah and someone had, the night before, broke into the Hostel at which I just arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica. They took her passport. And there she was, talking my head off, killing time on her way to Vietnam via South Dakota.
I said to myself "that's pretty crazy." When I say crazy, I mean the passport being stolen story as well, but the girl, certainly. I'm glad nothing remotely resembling that is going to happen to me, I'm a globtrotter, a world traveler a...
(I empathized with the zany Harvard girl's anecdote but felt impervious to theft of any kind.)
Fast-Forward. (That means jump ahead to the next day)
The lame conference on Commodities and Chinese relations with Latin American governments and the state-owned mines they own is sadly at an end.
(I was actually in Costa Rica on business, before I tacked on a vacation jaunt at the end of the trip.)
Now I'm headed to Jaco Beach on one of the most beautiful Fridays in recent memory. I am enjoying a ride to the Pacific Coast of this lovely, quaint, currency 500/1 - completely-backed-by-American-military-country. The bus to Jaco pulls up for boarding and people rush to put their luggage in the hull of the monstorous municpal bus that looks more like a tour bus.
Ahh, no way I'm putting my bags down there, sheeeeeeeeet, not me. Savvy yank that guy is right? So what do I do? I get on, speak a little Spanish, I'm in my zone, I'm getting ready for four straight days of God-knows-what-tropica-lfun and what do I do? I pull out my digital camera like a dummy tourist from middle America. You know, the quintessential one who asks, "do they serve tacos in Costa Rica?" Yeah that kind.
(I thought I was being careful and travel savvy but alas, my activities as a giddy oblivious tourist would do my belongings in.)
I start taking self portraits as the bus pulls off, feeling my self, fun for pennies on the dollar, oh yeah. My black samsonite leather computer bag is on the top shelf above where I'm sitting, phone, laptop, all the power cords and a DVD from blockbuster enclosed. I might as well have been a Harvard girl.
Fast-Forward. (That means we're skipping ahead about an hour or so.)
We're only 20 clicks (That's 20 kilometers for those not familiar with the metric system or U.S. Army and Marine lingo.) from Jaco Beach, just 20 clicks from wireless, phoneless freedom via the wireless connection on a month-old Dell fresh off the assembly line that I would hope to utilize in the sea-side condo I was headed to.
But, while I was looking out the window musing at the greenest hills I've ever seen in my life and the mango trees with ripe, juicy products hanging like sweaty jugs - of fruit juice you pervs - it must have jumped off, something slick, James Bondish. I'm talking Michael Jackson smooth criminal. I should have known what was up 45 minutes into the trip when I couldn't see the strap from my bag anymore, but it didn't register.
(Whilst I admired the scenery, the thief or theives were very methodical and moved with stealth as they lifted, snatched or removed my bag from the top shelf. Yes I said "Whilst.")
We stop, I look up on the shelf. Panic. Awwww they got me. First step, anger, broken, cuss-laden Spanish, black English; a real estate agent from South Carolina with the same "damn that's messed up," look on his face that I had for the Harvard girl the night before.
(The American real estate agent, who was also on the bus, emphathized with my story but was glad it wasn't him.)
Gone. (My stuff, in case it's unclear, was no longer there.)
Come to find out five collegues had the same hubris and put their stuff below in the belly of the Bus beast. Yes, Gone.
(Five people I was at the conference with, three American, two European, placed their belongings on the bottom of the bus before boarding and had all of their belongings subsequently taken.)
And suddenly I didn't feel so bad. I, after all still had my passport, credit cards and a whole lot of Colones on my person and a pre-paid condo waiting on me. Some of those people were stuck where they stood with nothing anyone could do but loan them 500 colones to call the embassy and then their folks.
(At least four of the above-mentioned "colleagues," had every last possession taken from them.)
Yep, the beach, healed those wounds quick. (I pouted for a minute but then realized I was at a world-class beach with blue-green water and black sand.)
Fast Forward. (Presumbably to the point of this friggin post, right?) (That means I'm jumping ahead to the sentence below.)
GET TRAVEL INSURANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When I return home and reality strikes, I will be out $750 bucks in supplies and will have bought the "Great Debaters" from Blockbuster, when I could have just gotten beyond my imperialist arrogance and copped $54 for two weeks of travel insurance from any of the companies on the commercials we hate on tv or any one of these sites:
(I should have gotten travel insurance. And there is lots of useful information on these hypertext markup language links, that take you, the readers, to things called Web Sites.)
Here's also a bit from my Wisebread sistren on parameters on TI that I neglected to mention due to the dearth of exactitude in my rant/narrative/testimonial.
(Fellow blogger Nora Dunn has a comprehensive post on the different ways and means of procuring travel insurance.)
It's a lesson for me, an expensive lesson, but a lesson. I do plan on going back to Costa Rica. I loved it but next time I'm springing for some TI and not the Rapper T.I. either, even though I hear he has lots and lots of guns.
(Okay, some of you just aren't going to get that last sentence. I'm going back to Costa Rica at some point though.)
Because despite reading numerous travel guides and Wikipedia entries about Costa Rica being the number one destination for passport theives, I put my stuff on the top rack of a public bus to a beach bum paradise. Perhaps, I should be reading your blog.
Sheesh. (What a difficult time I had explaining that my stuff was stolen and that I wish I had bought travel insurance.)
Hasta La Vista. (I'm fluent in Spanish, Hasta La Vista means until next time, or see you later. I never meant to say Pura Vida, but hey I had a great time so, Pura Vida it is.)
I'm having fun with you folks but seriously, get travel insurance when you go on trips longer than two weeks. It can't hurt.