What do robbers and slime have in common? Answer: they’re one and the same. And robbers use slime in their dirty work. This was a new attack. Be warned.
In retrospect, it was SO CLEARLY a robbery setup, but at the time it happened, we got suckered. Heck, it’s how these turds make their living. No wonder they’re so good at it.
Tom and I had just gotten off of the city tour bus in Buenos Aires, and started walking back toward our hotel. But, as usual, we were 180-degrees off in our navigation (once we got off on the wrong foot that morning, we stayed turned around all day…weirdest thing). We were walking along a side street, discussing whether to turn around and go back where we’d started or continue on and hook a left.
As we walked under some overhanging balconies, I felt something drop on my head. I kept walking, thinking it was just a drip, but then a woman walked past me and also felt her hair as if something had dropped on her head. I paused and looked back and up. Didn’t see any birds, but she said she thought it was a pigeon.
Tom was behind me. I said I’d felt something drop on my head. He looked and then said, “Geez, it’s all over you!” I smelled it then. A strong, rancid smell. The woman in front looked at me and said, in Spanish, we’d better wash it off. She pointed across the narrow street to an area with benches and motioned us to follow. We had to wait for five or six cars to pass, and then walked over, expecting to find a spigot.
Instead, she pulled out a bottle of water and handed it and a tissue to Tom, who began wiping at my back, all the time saying how much was on my back and how it was staining my light blue sweater. The gal didn’t do anything at first, but then when we saw that Tom had it on his back too, she handed us more tissues and helped wet them for Tom. A man standing nearby also stepped forward to help, and they kept up a running patter as they helped with tissues and water.
[[Yes, yes, in retrospect, it’s perfectly clear what they were doing, but at the time, they created a sense of chaos and misdirection…]]
The whole time, I was aware of the backpack in front of me, and never took my eyes off of it. After a few moments, I said I just wanted to get back to the hotel and clean my sweater, and the woman said good-bye and headed off toward the main boulevard. Tom called her back to give her the water bottle and thanked her. As he did so, the fellow who had been standing nearby pressed more napkins into my hand, and then said good-bye and walked off in the opposite direction.
I finished wiping off Tom’s back and the back of his pant legs (also covered in the green slime), and retched from the smell. It was no bird, but I didn’t know what had dripped from the balcony.
We headed toward the main boulevard, and then Tom stopped, his eyes wide, blood drained from his face. “My wallet!”
Gone, from the front pocket of his jeans. They’d clean him up and cleaned him out. We immediately retraced our steps, hoping to find the wallet tossed aside. No such luck. We were lucky, though, because he’d taken most things out of his wallet that morning. Losses totaled $60 US, $200 pesos (about $25 US), and R$300 (about $150 US). Plus one credit card (immediately cancelled and funds transferred to another account), and his CA driver’s license. Oh, and my sweater. Took our clothes to the laundry that afternoon, but the sweater was ruined.
I think the smell was rancid oil, mixed with something that made it slimy green. Terrible stuff. All part of the plan, though.
Thinking back, I recall that at the moment, I thought it odd that the woman didn’t have anything in her hair or on her clothes, if she too had been dripped on. But she was so insistent that we get me cleaned off that she took focus off of herself. I also thought it odd, yet thoughtful, that she took the time to help Tom clean me off. Then, when the fellow stepped forward, it was even odder, but by then, she had Tom madly trying to clean off the goo (it didn’t clean, but just smeared), and then “discovered” that he had it all over him. That’s when the fellow stepped in the “help.”
It’s my assumption that the gal walked behind us and flicked stuff on our head and backs. When we didn’t react, she stepped in front, pretended to have been dropped on as well, and then carried out her plan, next to where her partner was waiting. Our hotel manager told us that they often have a car parked around the corner in case things go wrong…they have a quick getaway. Argh! It’s so clear to me now!
For the next two days, Tom and I were eagle-eyed, watching for them, planning how we were going to “knee-cap” them and get retribution. Riiiight.
(Fortunately, I am in the habit of carrying my valuables in my bra or my waistband. From then on, Tom used Scott’s left-behind waistband carrier. Yes, I know, closing the barn door after the horses have escaped…)
Ah well. Live and learn. The blessing was that this was all sleight of hand, and not at gun or knife point. We felt suckered and stupid, but at least we weren’t put in danger…. If we’d resisted, who knows?
So, add to our list of things to be wary of: the kindness of strangers….and goop from the sky.