We would like to share with you our little story on how we almost got robbed in South America. Please be aware that these things can happen anywhere in the world while you travel. The aim of this post is not to shame Chile as a country or it’s people. Rather we want to tell the story that happened to us and could happen anywhere. This experience definitely ‘woke us up’ in terms of our own safety and since then, we were more aware of our surroundings. Again, we don’t want you to be paranoid, just to raise awareness. This is our story on how we almost got robbed in Chile.
We were traveling by bus from Uyuni, Bolivia to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. Until then, we took indefinite amount of buses and it never occurred to us that something would happen. Why? Because we always felt safe and met really nice people in South America.
HOW DID IT START
The bus from Uyuni to San Pedro is around 8 hours by bus. We were the only tourists in the bus and traveled only with locals, which we really enjoyed. After crossing the border we had our first stop in Chile in the city called Calama. At that time, we didn’t know, that this bus stop is a notorious spot for thieves preying on tourists.
It was already dark and we feel tired. I took a motion sickness pill so I was a bit drowsy. I guess it was noticeable. All the people traveling from Bolivia got out from the bus and we were the only people sitting in the back. An elderly couple was sitting in the front. Suddenly, a man entered the bus and decided to sit behind us. He placed his backpack in the overhead compartment next to ours and we were really wondering what he is up to…
PLAN A DIDN’T WORK
Looking back we know that he was trying to take things from our backpack. As we have a big lock on our backpack, plan A didn’t work out. That is when he approached us. He pretended to work for the bus company. He asked us: “Can I see your bus tickets?” We were surprised and showed him our tickets. We still didn’t think that his plan was to steal our backpack. He wanted to take our tickets to check something. But we said no, as we didn’t trust him. It sill didn’t occur to us what he was trying to do but we knew that something was about to happen. He told us that we should be careful as the door with our luggage downstairs is open and someone could take our stuff. Our bus drivers didn’t care. They left the doors open and were far away from the bus. That is why Nico left to check our luggage downstairs. Afraid that if he would not go the “bus employee” would take our things from downstairs.
I was left alone, and in the meantime, a second person entered the bus. Again, he sat behind me. He pretended that he is a passenger as well. I was at that point quiet awake as I knew something was wrong. But again, I wasn’t suspecting anything. Suddenly, the first men knocked on my window from outside, calling me to go downstairs. I said: “No way I am coming down!” He knocked again.
THIS IS THE POINT WHEN WE GOT ROBBED…
I got very angry and started to talk loudly: “What is going on here?” I am collecting our things and I am about to leave. In this moment, Nico comes back to the bus and immediately notices that our backpack in the overhead compartment is gone.
I HAD NO IDEA THAT THE BACKPACK IS MISSING. Nico thought that I moved it, but I didn’t. We didn’t have enough time to get a heart attack, as Nico turned around and saw the backpack in the middle of the bus. Everything was still inside.
We think that the elderly couple sitting in front stopped him. I wish I could send them a BIG THANK YOU.
After we noticed that the men’s backpacks were still there. The backpacks ere completely empty. They even brought a bottle of water to make it look like they are traveling somewhere. It happened so quickly and we still can’t believe how lucky we were. In our backpack we had everything. Our notebook, camera, GoPro, drone, stabiliser, hard-drive with all our photos and videos from Southeast Asia on it. EVERYTHING.
ADVICE: IF SOMEONE COMES TO YOU LIKE THAT, DON’T EVEN RESPOND, REMEMBER: YOU DON’T SPEAK ANY SPANISH. We should have ignored him, took our backpack to us and that would have beeen it.
If you are planning on traveling to South America, we highly recommend you to read our article on SAFETY TIPS WHEN TRAVELING TO SOUTH AMERICA.
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