It was 2008 and I had just gotten off an excruciatingly long overnight ride aboard a chicken bus from Mexico to Guatemala City. I arrived in the capital around 6AM; tired and frustrated, and in search of another bus to take me to my intended destination about 3 hours away. As I was trying to figure out which bus to catch, I was approached by two men amongst the chaos of the bus station who asked where I was going and then proceeded to direct me to the correct bus. They seemed legit – they both got on the bus with me; one hopped in the driver’s seat, the other sat in front of me.
I took my seat with my daypack on my lap. As I had just gotten off the overnight bus I hadn’t had time to reorganise my stuff and put things back into my pockets (big mistake). My daypack had everything in it including my laptop, camera, all my money, credit cards, and passport. The guy who sat in front of me noticed I had my bag on my lap and insisted I put it in the overhead compartment saying something about “policia”. I initially refused, but his insistence and my tiredness got the better of me and I reluctantly put it above; albeit slightly forward past my seat so I could keep an eye on it.
At the same time, the driver called me over to pay. I left my seat for a split second to understand what he was saying. When I turned back around I noticed my bag was gone, along with the guy sitting in front of me. The back door of the bus was also open. Oh shit…
I went to go tell the driver and noticed he was now gone too. What the hell was going on? My adrenaline was pumping – I ran into the street looking for either of them but no such luck. When I returned to the bus I noticed there was a different guy sitting in the driver’s seat – the real bus driver.
Now slightly panicking with the realisation I was stranded without money or a passport in a country with no Australian Embassy (at the time), I ran back into the streets and managed to flag down a passing police car. By this stage I knew my things were long gone so turned my attention to cancelling my credit cards and organising a police report. After a very difficult conversation in broken Spanish, the police took me to the Canadian Embassy who were able to – throughout the course of the day – organise some temporary documents to allow me to travel to the Australian Embassy in Mexico City.
Thankfully I was able to borrow some money which allowed me to eat and organise myself until I could figure something out. That same night I booked a flight online to Mexico City and 24 hours later I had a replacement passport courtesy of the Australian Embassy which allowed me to resume my trip.
Have you ever been robbed overseas? Share your experience in the comments section below!