I’m currently sitting in a chilly Buenos Aires hostel, waiting for my bank to open in Australia so I can contact them. I need to tell them that my credit card has been fraudulently used and successfully managed to clear out the contents of my account. On top of that, my card happens to attract a 17.5% surcharge on purchases given the economic climate and seemingly Neanderthal-ic relationship my bank has with the rest of the world. I’ve lost my only pair of glasses. I have several flights to book that are constantly increasing in price, as well as the uncertainty of if I will be able to access money tomorrow in Uruguay. This one litre of beer is going down swimmingly.
Today started like any regular day, a slow roll out of my cosy hostel, a meek breakfast and black coffee. I perused the infamous San Telmo Sunday market, containing some beautiful antique wares and wonderful cuisine. I traded a pocket full of small notes for some choripan – a char-grilled chorizo smothered in chilli, onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon and parsley and then wrapped in a toasted bread roll. The South American sausage sizzle.
I didn’t spend too much money because I only had a few Argentinean pesos left, due to the aforementioned embargo on Australian credit cards. I had to pay an extortionate fee to access my own money and the compounding inflation of 40% meant prices were constantly increasing. “It could be worse,” I thought to myself, as I mentally waltzed down the corridor of negativity and positivity and eventually chose the latter.
A young lad pushed a wobbly cart full of thermos' selling hot coffee through the cobblestone streets. The sweet blend was one of the best I actually had in Argentina and strangely enough came from the thermos of a local kid for ten pesos. I hugged my cup closely as I walked through the rainy market. It was the first time I’d experienced rain whilst in South America and it was a nice change of atmosphere. Relaxed, full and content I eventually wandered back to my hostel.
I began planning my flights from Peru to Ecuador in the coming months. I spent hours between flight options and paths, trying to find the cheapest and most efficient deal. I ended up finding a decent flight out of Cusco and just before booking I went to ensure the money was in my bank account. It was then my jaw dropped to the floor.
$1600 worth of fraudulent transactions through a sports betting account resulted in my bank balance boasting less than a hundred dollars. Frazzled and confused, I began stressing to think what I had to do. Contact my bank, I immediately thought. My next realisation was that it was closed, given the time difference and would open in two hours. Contact the sports betting company was my next logical move... which was also closed for another two hours. I changed the password and hoped for the best.
I eventually contacted my bank who cancelled my card and activated my back up card. They said the money wouldn’t be returned for up to 6 months, pending investigation.
“It could be worse,” - the recurring thought in my head, pushing me through the hiccups of travelling.
Upon leaving the next day, I tried to find my glasses – to no avail. I searched my room from top to bottom for hours, through bags, clothes and belongings. I came to the conclusion someone must have accidentally grabbed them whilst checking out early in the morning. I had no spares and only contact lenses. I was so frustrated – I hadn’t moved them, they should have been exactly where I left them. It felt like the straw that broke the camel’s back – I had been robbed, with only $100 left in my account, essentially unable to access my own money and now couldn’t even see without contact lenses. I packed my things grumpily and trudged out of the hostel towards my ferry leaving to Uruguay.
It was then whilst wallowing in self pity I realised this isn’t me. I don’t like being upset. I should be counting my blessings, not my problems. It’s only money and I can sort out glasses somewhere along the line I’m sure. I smiled both inside and out and jumped onto my ferry leaving towards Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay, the next exciting destination on my trip.
“It could be worse,” I said aloud.