I’m going to take a break from my travel reports and tips to deal with a very unpleasant subject, especially when we’re traveling: robberies.
I lived this experience in Montevideo when I was leaving Mercado del Puerto.
A friend and I were returning from a nice lunch at the market at around 17:00 and we already knew that the area was dangerous, but the streets were full, many people were leaving work and it was still very light. We left walking along a street that was very busy and with several bus stops with people waiting for their transportation.
At a certain point, almost arriving at Praça da Iglesia Matriz, we passed three young people (the oldest should be at most 23 years old and the youngest about 16 years old) and we continued walking and walked away from them.
We were distracted and talking when suddenly I’m surprised by one of these young people pulling my friend’s purse with great force. He managed with just one tug to break the handle and ran towards the harbor.
At this point I had no reaction and froze and to my surprise my friend ran after him. There were several people on the street and of course most witnessed what happened and my friend leaving towards him. At this point no one interfered and I started screaming for help because my concern was that the guys might be armed and do something to her. To my astonishment, no one was willing to help.
At that moment many things crossed my mind: money, documents and that our return would be the next day.
In these few minutes I lost sight of my friend because she kept screaming and running after the thief and when I found her I saw her from afar kneeling on the ground picking up her things that were lying on the street. In the middle of the rush, the thief took her wallet and threw her purse on the floor and later withdrew all the money and threw the wallet on the sidewalk.
When I caught up with my friend a couple who were driving and passing by at the time asked us what had happened and offered us help. We were so nervous that we got into strangers’ car without thinking! But those people really helped us a lot. They calmed us down and took us to a police station which, to my astonishment, was a few meters from the place where the robbery took place.
I was so nervous I couldn’t remember a word of Spanish and the couple talked to the cops and explained what had happened. At this moment we were taken to make the occurrence and we were attended by a policewoman who was super helpful and assisted us very well.
She informed us about all the procedures to be adopted and made contact with the Brazilian consulate in Montevideo. We would not miss a trip to the consulate, as our flight would be the next day and my friend had no documents to board back.
The policewoman was kind enough to call a taxi to take us to the hotel.
I thought it was important to share this story with you because:
Prevent a situation that could have happened to anyone traveling;
I have always been a cautious person and have always kept my money, passport and credit cards in a money changer. But just on this trip I was so relaxed that I didn’t remember to do it, so don’t ever neglect it;
Reinforce the issue about the care we should take with our documents when we are outside Brazil;
For those who go to Uruguay, avoid walking around this region. If you go to the Mercado del puerto, take a taxi. And by no means did I have a bad image of the country, apart from this regrettable incident, the country deserves to be visited, it has beautiful places to visit and a very hospitable people.
Later, at night, we had wonderful news: we were able to retrieve her documents and we wouldn’t have to go to the consulate.
There was the loss of losing 600 reais and another new cell phone with only two months of use. I felt guilty because she had all that money in her purse because she was going to lend me a part and we would go to an exchange office to exchange for Uruguayan pesos and do our shopping.
Once the initial anger is over, we thank God that nothing more serious has happened and that we are in one piece!
When we talked to people about what happened, everyone was unanimous in saying that that region is dangerous and that you should avoid walking around there.
So, here’s my advice: if you go to the Mercado del puerto, take a taxi and don’t walk around there at any time of day.