Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: Stolen Manzana

Before I start, I would like to mention that you may experience a few format and grammatical errors.  I am doing my best to put my best English forward, but I simply do not have the time to thoroughly edit/review everything I would take too much time.  In advance, thanks for understanding.

It has been a while since my last post.  In fact, it has been 13 days since my last entry.  A lot has happened, as it always does in Patagonia.  One thing is for sure, I have not written because I did not want too, or have lack of entertainmen, and muse.  On the contrary, the reason why I have not written is because after spending an amazing day on the upper Rio Malleo (pronounced may-shay-o), my laptop was stolen.  Where and how my laptop was stolen, intitially, confused me. But, now I believe I understand what happened and I am happy to share my experience, so that you may avoid such a problem in the future.  

I finished a spectacular day of fishing the upper Malleo (more on that in another post).  I returned to Junin de los Andes, and upon my return, I visited a few stores.  I was in and out of these stores within 5-10 minutes.  One of the stores (laundry center) I know the owner/family.  So, the need to lock my car/truck doors, didn't seem important, especially when I parked just outside the store entrance.  I also visited two seperate stores, looking to buy a pillow cover (they only had white...not a good color, for a guy sleeping in the back of his truck, in dusty Patagonia).  The last store I visited was a fishing store, where I knew that Natalia worked.  Again, I parked just feet from the entrance and was unaware of the need to lock your doors. While in the fishing store, I was looking for 100% synthetic, zip pants (these are a must have for wet wading in Patagonia).  The price of a Columbia brand 100% synthetic pair of paints was $101 USD.  FYI...anything imported into Argentina will be at least 30% more than the USA.  So, naturally, at this price, I passed.  As I left the store, I noticed it was getting late, about 9pm.  I decided it was time to communicate/Skype back home, so I reached for my Patagonia computer bag.  As I picked it up, I noticed how light it was.  I looked inside and soon discovered my Macbook Pro and power cable were gone. At first, I thought to myself that I might had placed the laptop some where elese in the truck.  After a thorough search of my truck, unfortunately, this was not true.  Also, I did discover that a small amount of Chilean Pesos were stolen.  At this point, unaware that I did not lock the doors while running in and out of the stores located in Junin, I stood wondering how this happened.  As anyone would do, I began retracing my day, and the events that led up to the moment that I discovered my laptop was either stolen or missing. Since I spent about 6 hours fishing the upper Malleo, I somehow believed the crime was comitted while I was away from my truck, fishing.  But, there was no sign of entry, either forced or not forced. When say no signs, I mean no broken glass, no scratches, and no visible hand prints on the truck's dusty windows and doors.  I was tired and hungry; looking back I really had a hard time thinking.  But, for some reason, I was convinced that a magician figured out a way to get into my truck, without trace, and only take my laptop and Chilean Pesos. As tired as I was, the one obvious question was... if they were able to get into my truck, why did they not steal my documents/passporte, tools, electronics, and the wad of $100 bills tucked underneath that floor mat.  Something did not make sense!   

I am skipping a few minor details, but I finally ended up at the police station to make a formal report or anuncion.  Carlos, a new rookie was asking me lots of good questions, and even he found the story to be very odd.  Why odd?  The truck was parked 30 feet from the road, an hour from town, in an area only visited by fisherman and families picnicing. After about 20 minutes, a woman walked into Carlos's office and soon enough, she was asking me questions.  As it turned out she is the boss.  Her line of questioning focused on what I did after fishing the upper Malleo.  Initially, I really could not understand why she was asking me these questions...I was still convinced that a Patagonia wizard had stolen my laptop.  But, I happily answered her questions and simply told her I returned to Junin and visited a few stores.  She immediately asked me if I locked my doors while in town.  At this point, I realized that I could not, with 100% certainty, tell her that I locked my doors....BINGO.  In a flash, my memory kicked in, and though still in disbelief, I now realized that my laptop was stolen right under my nose, not by a magician or wizard, but by a kid who targets forgetful people like me. 

Hope you never have to come here.
Junin de los Andes finest...Officer Carlos

I said thank you to both Carlos and his boss, and as I walked out of the police station I felt enterily stupid, humiliated and angry.  By now it was close to 11pm, and I needed food.  I zipped over to the local mercado ferria, and without joy, I whoofed down six empanandas. The next day, I awoke streamside on the upper middle Chimehuin River, and was able to answer a question that bothered me all night long.  Why and How?

I have been traveling to South America since 1999, and in that year, I spent the entire year hiking and fishing, without a single problem...not a penny stolen or one item robbed!  So, what was different about this trip, versus the trips before?  Well, they say photos are worth a thousands words (read below caption).  

My truck = hey look at me, I am a rich American, come steal my stuff! 

In previous trips to Patagonia, I either hitched a ride, took a bus, or rented a car. In other words, I fit in and was not displaying any amount of wealth.  Now, driving my truck in/around town creates a lot of attention...this truck does not exist in South America!  Seriously, there is not a day that goes by that at least a small handful of people are asking me questions about my truck.  Perhaps I should sell it and buy another fish mobile, one that fits in?  Seriously, for the past week or so, I have been looking at what the local market has to offer. 

FCFF Fish Mobile Option A
FCFF Fish Mobile Option B

As much as I love the character of these old sports, I think I will stick with my truck and learn to lock my doors 24/7.  Speaking of, a message to all fisherman and travelers...don't leave anything in your vehicles that would tempt someone to break in.  For example, you would be better off leaving your non-fishing gear at your hotel and taking a taxi to, and from a river. 

Well, I need to take a break.  Lots more to come. Stay Tune!