Where else than Columbia – click to enlarge

So it finally happened. After 2 years of traveling I almost thought I am immune against mugging, robbery and pickpocketing. Na ah, never feel too comfortable is what I learned today.

Colombia is not the most welcoming country so far. 3 hours delay in Bogota on my way to Cartagena due to drug screening of the plane I was sitting in. When I arrived at the north coast, I didn’t have any colombian Peso so I paid the cab driver with dollar but he wanted to give me way less Peso back than he should have. I finally solved that problem at 3am with a helpful pedestrian.

The next day I wanted to change my Dominican Peso ( around 300US$ ) but no exchange shop in the city wanted to take it. The only guy who was willing to exchange agreed to give me Colombian Peso worth 80US$ back. No thanks.

After running around checking ATM’s I kinda got nervous that all of them rejected my credit card as well as my bank card. On the way back, pretty frustrated from the first day, I found another ATM in a corner well hidden. And surprisingly this one gave money. So now I had cash and knew a place where to get more. Problem solved!

I worked the past few days on a project and didn’t go out a lot so today I decided to explore my area a little. Cartagena is described as extremely save. Cops everywhere to protect foreigners. It’s a touristic city ( lots of old pirate fortresses ) and they don’t want to see that busy tourist life destroyed by criminal activities. So today I walked around. Without my camera or any bag. Just my ipod in the pocket. I took a break at one of the old city walls towards the ocean, listening to music. When I turned around, 2 lottery card vendors blocked my way.

I said “Hola” and tried to walk around them but one of the guys stepped in front of me and pushed his tray with all the tickets into my face. “No Gracias Amigo” is what I said while trying to walk around him. He kept blocking my way and showed his hand that was covered by the tray till now. A nice little switchblade appeared, reflecting the sun while he was slowly rolling it in his hand. He pointed with the knife on my pocket. When I think about it know, I am sure they must have spotted my headphones somewhere in the city and followed me to that perfect mugging-spot.

Two men of my age ( although not that tall ) and a knife made me realize that I shouldn’t try anything weird. Like get into a fight or something. I didn’t even see a sense in arguing since I don’t speak enough spanish to hammer out some convincing stories. I took the ipod bag out of my pocket, umplugged the headpgones and handed it over saying something like “Aaaww maaaan, reeally?!?”
I still don’t know why I unplugged the headphoes but they didn’t seem to be interested in them anyway. What I did forgot until the guy without the knife checked the little bag was, that I left a couple of things with the ipod in that bag. And those other things were the reason that they didn’t ask me to also empty my other pockets. The day when I went on the mission to get money, I forgot to take out the cash as well as my credit card which I usually carry around in that bag. It’s the thing I check the most and take good care of all the time so it was in there and not where I should have placed it – back in my big backpack in the hostel. Inlcuding 140US$ and my credit card there was also my drivers licence and a couple of business cards in that little bag.

And when you guys, yes you who stole my stuff, happen to check my blog which you find on the business cards, this is for you:

yours, truly

Fuck You

…and the game is on again. How to get money? We’ll see tomorrow. Wish me luck, please…

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  1. Anja on Donnerstag 16, 2012

    Oh well, shit happens. Unfortunately. Hope you are alright in the meantime. If you need luck: here is a LOT. Just stumbled about your blog. Great pictures & bon voyage//work!

  2. Reader on Donnerstag 16, 2012

    Would you mind if I post your stoty in a CouchSurfing colombian group?

    Remember that the eleventh commandment in Colombia is: “No dar papaya”. Find out what does it mean… and never forget.

    Glad you are fine anyway. I wish you a good travel and good adventures.

  3. fabsn on Donnerstag 16, 2012

    @ Anja, thanks a lot, I’m doing fine.

    @ Reader, I really have no clue what it means. Gotta ask around :)
    …and sure you can post it in the couchsurfing group.

  4. Natalia on Donnerstag 16, 2012

    Ohhh I am so sorry, I really like Cartagena, but as every big city you have to be extra careful :( I hate to read bad stories about my country. I hope you had a couple of better days after that!

  5. fabsn on Donnerstag 16, 2012

    Apart from that one incident it was pretty chilled. Hope you like to hear that the positive things are well balanced on around 99% ;)

  6. Gracie on Donnerstag 16, 2012

    I’m American and was beat and mugged on the street in Barranquilla (just outside of Cartagena). After traveling for years I thought I was invincible too! Cops didn’t seem to care one but either, even though I got the license plate of the motorcycle taxi driver

  7. fabsn on Donnerstag 16, 2012

    Sorry to hear that Gracie. I guess from time to time these things happen but shouldn’t be a reason to condemn a whole country. I learned a lot from that incident. Hope you are doing well. Save travels…