SCAMMED ABROAD: Fighting Crime in Buenos Aires
Lucy Holehan recounts her crime fighting experience in Buenos Aires, as IMPACT Travel’s new series divulges our writers’ harrowing tales of robberies and scams from around the world.
So there I am lying in my bed in Buenos Aires when I hear my newly acquired kiwi housemate screaming “GET OUT GET OUT” in the corridor. Wondering what the hell is worth shouting like that about at 8.30am, I drag myself out of bed to find out what’s going on.
Looking horrified, Helen informs me that there are three men in our house who are in the process of robbing us while our other ten housemates are asleep. So I run down the corridor to the girls’ dorm and find a 6 foot Argentinian man going through my friends’ stuff while they sleep, whilst simultaneously chatting to them as if they are in a dream; creepy doesn’t cover it.
Being the really threatening looking person I am (not) I decide it’s a good idea to start shouting at this man in Spanish, until he shows me the contents of his bag, which I had demanded he do. So this is what the GCSE Spanish role play exam was practice for!
In the meantime, the sleeping girls are now the awake and very confused girls who can’t quite work out why their English housemate is shouting at an unknown man in Spanish in their bedroom at the crack of dawn. After demanding to see his pockets too (apparently I’m very confident with robbers when I’m half asleep), the man leaves, along with his two other accomplices who were caught whipping hundreds of pesos out of my kiwi friend’s wallet. Turns out that shouting at him in a language he doesn’t speak helps, and she fortunately grabs her money back. After realising that two under average size girls are on to them, they scarper out of the door. At this point the other girl, Helen, is shaking like crazy and explains that she opened the door and let them in after they blurted something in Spanish at her. Being the only Spanish speaker in the house (and being incredibly scary, supposedly) I was later appointed chief door-opener for the rest of my stay. A big responsibility; I’m not an expert on burglar attire.
After this whole charade we high-five, believing that we have beaten the robbers and they haven’t got away with anything. Until our Dutch housemate comes home from work and innocently asks if anyone has seen her phone and camera… which were on the bedside table in the girls’ bedroom…dammit. Cue a trip to the police station where I end up having to sit between Dutch girl and an Argentinian policeman and act as translator. I even get a mention as ‘interpreter’ at the end of the statement. All good practice for final year oral classes, I guess! Suffice to say I didn’t tell my parents about my crime-fighting skills until I got home, when they duly questioned my sanity. I guess I could say it was a ‘character building’ experience.