There’s something in the air in Buenos Aires

As I’m preparing for a two-week trip to England, husband is on business in Argentina. Lazy blogger that I am, I’m relaying an e-mail of his. I’ve  seen all the typical European pickpocketing scams–I’ve had people trying to give me fake gold rings they found on the street. I’ve had babies practically thrown at me. But you gotta hand it to the South American criminals. Read on and let me know if you’ve ever seen this scam before.

Tonight I was the victim of a pickpocket, the first time in my life.
I keep my passport, credit cards, and “big money” in a little folio on a lanyard, and the lanyard is always strung around my belt. Most of the time the folio is actually inside my pants, it is hard to get to, even for me.
I keep “accessible” money folded in a front pocket, with the big bills on the inside, smaller bills outside.
So, on the way to dinner tonight (It was a fine dinner, the restaurant has a gigantic wood firepit in the front window, with various racks of rib and other meats impaled next to the fire), I get the bad luck of bird droppings landing all over me. My colleague was next to me, but it missed him, more or less. A woman was nearby, she was so close that surely she was a victim too. She pulled out a kleenex, and helped me wipe it off. . . yes, it was also on my trousers. Colleague helped too. Indeed, the people here are friendly, just like the taxi driver woman this afternoon who took it upon herself to teach me some Spanish.
Unfortunately, I have some experience with bird droppings. These were odd in that they had a sour vinegar-like smell. Pretty disgusting, and something I wanted to get off of my clothes, . . . PRONTO!  Yes, I know, “pronto” is Italian, but that’s close enough, my lousy Italian is helpful here too.
When it came time to pay the bill at the restaurant, that’s when it sank in that my pocket cash was gone. That’s when I quickly figured out that the bird incident was contrived, and that bird shit STILL does not smell like salad dressing, even in the southern hemisphere. I’m trying to calculate the loss, it is somewhere in the realm of $75. Everything in the lanyard-folio is still with me, including my passport and a few hundred US$. That is where I also had some reserve Argentina pesos.
The hotel gave me a new pass card, and said that the old one is now invalid. I told them about the incident, and the young woman at the desk seemed to be familiar with the ruse.


Filed under Travel

15 responses to “There’s something in the air in Buenos Aires

  1. Ingenious buggers, no?

    The scams may change, but the pain is the same . . .

  2. Julie Fisher

    No, never heard of this one before. But I sure have had the real deal (real bird poop) several times–must mean I look like a bird lounge or something. And I can tell you if someone had flung bad-looking salad dressing at me, I would have done the dance of a whirling dervish. OOOO, I HATE bird poop!

  3. Karen A

    That’s terrible! I’m glad it wasn’t more money. Poor husband.

  4. Lil

    It’s a good thing your husband’s a smart guy and didn’t keep all of his money, papers, etc in his pocket. That’s a pretty clever ruse, really. I’m just sorry this happened to your husband. It never would have occurred to me that someone simulate fake bird poop in order to pick a pocket.

  5. i’ve had friends pickpocketed in all the usual ways – but this is a completely new one. who knew you can buy “Hidden Valley Bird Poo” in a bottle?

  6. You have got to be kidding.

    I think I’ll just keep being that weird loner who stays in her house, if it’s all the same. The world scares me.

  7. Ah, yes, the old fake bird shit ruse. A classic.

  8. Oh maaaaaaaaaaaan, that is some clever…um…er…some clever shit!
    Glad he’s a seasoned traveler and didn’t loose everything.
    I just KNEW you were married to a guy as smart (and funny) as you!

  9. Oh, dear. My sympathies to the traveller. The only times I ever experienced this, the stuff was real, courtesy of 1. a pigeon and 2. a Canada goose. I thought somebody had thrown a baseball at my head when the goose bombed me.

  10. Oh my! What a sinister scam. I’m so sorry that happened to you. Sometimes people really suck.

  11. All–thanks for your comments. I asked him in an IM where it came from and his reply “from the sky.” One thing’s for sure…he’ll never fall for that trick again. And I bet none of y’all will either!

  12. Mike Linton

    My buddy and I just got sprayed by a trio of Buenos Aires Birdshit Bandits, the concoction was a white milky liquid that had bits of seeds mixed in it. We were walking through a park on Libertado. Can you imagine? These guys go home and take a mortar and pestle to birdseed then mix it with (milk/yogurt?? who knows). First they got my friend – I was 20 feet away and looking in other direction, then saw that he had something on his back and that a man and a woman were trying to help him clean it off with pocket napkins and a bottle of water. As I went over to see what was the deal(I thought he had slipped and fell down, the ground in the park was muddy & slippery). I was amused thinking he had just dunked his butt in the mud, he was obviously not hurt, and when I moved toward him the third guy who was now behind me said ‘the birds got you too’ – he must have sprayed me with the stuff as soon as I turned toward my friend. Since we both had our wallets deep in front pockets, our birdshit bandits didn’t get so much as a centavo, but probably had a good laugh on us. We immediately got in a cab back to our apartment to change clothes(they really doused us him especially) and on the ride we determined that it had to have been an attempted scam as we saw few birds and to get us with that much it would need to be a) a flock of birds) or b) a friggin constipated condor. The best part was coming home to internet access and seeing the posts like this one so we knew we weren’t crazy. We were lucky in that we had safeguarded our valuables, reason # 6,437,101 to keep your wallet in your front pocket vs. back. I will repost this in a few other spots to warn others – my hope is someone will be forewarned and when it happens to them *please* find the birdshit solution, take it from them, and spray the shit out of them with their own crap.

  13. a;fklj;afkjasl;fjka;slkfja;kfjas;fj

    Fucking gypsies.

    I mean, I know they weren’t gypsies, but fuck ’em, all the same.

  14. I have heard of a lot of different kinds of pickpocketing scams, but never one involving bird shit. So those little fanny pack tucked in things actually do come in handy don’t they?

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