The next morning was cloudy but did not rain. Pau and I got breakfast at a small restaurant with coffee but without chamicos. It was a standard hispanic breakfast with some bread, eggs, rice and beans. We didn't talk much, but aside from that, it was as if nothing had happened. Just another day in the universe.
We had to wait around for an internet cafe to open. We sat on blankets on the sidewalk. I was glad to have Pau with me. If I had been alone on the street, I would have really felt in the dumps. But with her sitting against me, I was not sad.
I was getting over the shock and sad mental inventorying of lost stuff. I had about $400 in cash and $1400 in traveler's cheques, but that didn't worry me much. The lost passport was the worst. It was almost full of stamps, including my full page visas from Germany, Russia, and Brazil. I had stamps from this trip, as well as my travels in Europe. I even had a stamp from where I entered Crimea when it was in Ukraine, and one for entering Moldova from Transnistria. I had double stamps from my troubles at the Panamanian border, plus the little sticker for the Bocas del Toro tax. I had stamps and visas of all shapes and colors, so many that the booklet would have been completely filled by the time I returned to the USA. By golly, that passport was just a month away from retirement!
There was my coin collection too, with coins and bills from every country I'd visited this trip, including the pre-2001 Salvadoran Colones and pre-Chavez Venezuelan Bolivars. I also considered the bottle cap collection, with beer brands from every country I'd visited. And this is not mentioning the rock collection I'd lugged thousands of miles, with red stones, blue stones, translucent quartz from Brazil, and green copper from Chile. There was a small collection of Amazonian flowers I'd pressed, plus shells and the shark tooth from on a beach in El Salvador. It was hard to remember all the things I'd lost without laying them in front of me. And, heavens, several notebooks full of notes- hours of labor, which would be of no value to the thieves. (I did take pleasure to imagine them unable to read my cryptic script.) I realized I would be returning home with nothing to show from the months of traveling I had done.
I did take some pleasure imagining the thieves discovering the toothpaste pocket, which I still hadn't opened since Chicago.
When the internet cafe opened, I first looked up a Colombian phone number for American Express, and called using their phone. I reported the cheques as stolen. AmEx sent a check to my address in New Jersey. I felt like it would have been easier to have reported them stolen long ago, and have my father put the money in my bank account, rather than search high and low for a place to cash the cheques.
I also called the U.S. embassy to report the lost passport. I was told to file a police report and come to the embassy in Bogotá.
Then I emailed my family that I had been robbed. I was discouraged and ready to abort the trip. A backpacker without a backpack is no backpacker at all. I was ready to hit EJECT and be home at once. I priced plane tickets, but the cheapest were no less than $550. I held off buying one for now.
Paula messaged her family too, and we both looked for places to stay. She had friends in Bogotá, but they would not be home for a week, so we would need a host there for a few days too.
We made a decision, that since there was no host for us here in Cali, we had might as well proceed to Bogotá. I had to go there in any case, to get a new passport. So, weary and dirty, we hit the road again that afternoon.
We got another ride with a trucker, this time sitting in the cab with him. We told him about the robbery. He said it was terrible, but hoped that we wouldn't base our opinion of his country on the actions of a few thieves. I agreed with him. Colombia was still a special place, with beautiful countryside and amazing people, despite its reputation.
The trucker stopped for the night by the road in the outskirts of Ibagué. He slept in his cab, and we slept on the tiled floor of a roadside restaurant.
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