I was recently in Argentina getting ready to return to Brazil where I was doing development work.
As I was preparing to leave, I was robbed at the retiro bus station in Buenos Aires. Although I believe Buenos Aires is a relatively safe city for its size, the bus station is not at all safe. It took two seconds for me to lose my money, a plane ticket and several years of research that I was to use to teach with in Brazil.
The incident was devastating. I had to return home to the States. I managed to retrieve some cash from stollen travelers checks. I purchased a plane ticket back to Rio, changed my flight date from Rio to the U.S. I was down to a $100.00.
I went to the Brazil Consulate to make sure I did not need a visa for my four-hour stay at the airport in Rio. They informed me that because I was switching airlines, I would need a letter stating my transit from the airline, Continental Airlines, to the U.S.
The people at Continental would not help me. I had to purchase a visa for the airport with my last $100.00. I was obliged to stay in Buenos Aires for five more days with the equivalent of $40.00 in cash. With no one to help me, I was on the streets for three of those days. Thanks to Contiental for not assisting their costumers.
The moral here is to be prepared for the worst and to choose airlines that are more helpful in case of an emergency – a lesson I needed to learn.