Losing it in Granada – Nicaragua, Central America

The Cathedral of Granada, seen from La Merced Church, 2007

The Cathedral of Granada, seen
from La Merced Church

I had my pocket picked in Nicaragua last month. I was warned. I ignored good advice. I lost two debit cards, a driver’s license and a beat up wallet. Did I learn anything? Oh yes! I was in Granada for two days of parties, fireworks and fandangos, with a little bit of business thrown in for good measure. The rum flowed better than the water; we wandered through the crowds at night without a care in the world other than the next pit-stop to top off the Flor de Cana. I had followed my friends through a large crowd adjoining the bandstand and was immediately jostled, but I kept my attention on my go-cup rather than my back (and front) pockets. These guys were good – front pocket for a bit of cash and the rear pocket for the billfold. I knew when I emerged from the crowd that I’d been "had" – lesson to self, I figured, go back to the hotel and regroup.

I called my bank first thing, explained that I’d been stripped, robbed and left for dead meat in the gutter. The lady asked if I had my pin numbers written on the cards – right, as if. The rascals managed to crank some $600.00 worth of weird/bogus transactions at two gas stations around Granada and Masaya that night, with a few other withdrawals/debits. I did the police report and the Unauthorized Use Form for the bank; I was reimbursed.

Lesson 1

Don’t take your cards to town and why would you want a driver’s license with you in a foreign country? I know old habits die hard, we’re used to carrying plastic all the time. Take enough cash for the evening; leave the rest in the safe or your locked suitcase. If you feel the need for an ID, make a copy of Page One of your passport and put it somewhere on your body.

Lesson 2

Look out for crowds, being surrounded by the "mosh pit" and keep your eye on your money rather than the cocktail in your hand. Call the bank immediately, check your accounts as soon as possible. Avoid doing the usual things you’re used to doing. Stay alert.

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