Costa Rica 39 -- November 8, 2005
Coming home early -- robbed of monetary valuables

By Bob Corbett

Hello Folks, Well, there is good news along with the bad. But, the bad came first. Yesterday, wanting to be fully prepared for my trip to the northwest beaches with Brian and Adam, I decided to load up on money, I was low on cash. So I headed to the bank at 9 AM on a glorious sunny day. It was people rush hour on the walking mall, tons and tons of folks, all scurrying to hither and yon.

I presume that in the crowd at a stop light, someone opened my fanny pack and removed my inner "valuables" bag. I had no idea, but figured that was what happened when I walked into the Scotia Bank, up to the counter, removed the pack and it was open and empty.

I did hurry home to see if by some crazy miracle I had just forgotten it, but, of course, that was not to be. Taken were my passport, all my traveler's checks, my two credit cards, 50,000 Costa Rican colones (about $100) and $64.00 of U.S. cash. Also my insurance card and Medicare card and driver's license.

However, one factor that very few of you will fully appreciate, saved the day even at that moment from the bank counter to home and accepting the fact of what was gone. And that was the ONE ITEM that had been in the pack every single day, and this was the first time I left it at home -- my note book with the 11 book reviews I have written here. If that had been taken, I would probably be in the ICU unit of the San Jose hospital with a heart attack. The other is a MAJOR bother and a minor loss, but it's only time, and a bit of money and some inconvenience to Brian and Adam, but no big deal at all.

I had a few thousand colones and a bunch of change in my pocket, so I went on out to the airport to meet the guys coming in. I first stopped and e-mailed home and Jeanne, my son Bob and my brother John, among them, got both credit cards cancelled, all my traveler's checks cancelled, so there was no huge loss, about $164.00 in cash.

[Later note. When all was said and done the loss was minimal, that cash above and when I got home I had to purchase a new passport. But I got 100% of the travelerís check money back and two charges on each credit card were written off by the companies. Of course, since I came home a full week early, I saved more money than I lost by giving up my last week in Costa Rica.]

While at the airport I went to American Air, and they said that they would change my plane ticket with no cost, I just had to get a passport.

Brian and Adam were just so incredibly kind about it. They had a rental car reserved and after we picked it up we hunted out the U.S. consulate, way out of the downtown, but it was closed. At least we knew where it was.

Then we went out to party big time. It was the day before BOTH of them would celebrate their 30th birthday, so we had an excuse to party. I chose the restaurant and it was a major hit with the two. They both got fancy house specials of sea bass and jumbo shrimp, and we had several beers, rum, coffee and the house contributed dessert as the serving staff gathered round and sang a joyous Spanish version of Happy Birthday to the two 30 year olds.

We just had so much fun and many laughs.

This morning they wanted to take care of me, and all of my protestations to the contrary, they wouldn't have it any way. They drove me early to the consulate, dropped me and they went off to find a bank to get money for themselves, and were planning to lend me all this money for my last week.

But, I didn't like that plan. I know they really meant it and they were just so lovely about it all. However, they are here for two weeks, and carrying a third person would have been too much. Plus, I've had 6 simply awesome weeks, I didn't need that last week.

I was simply ASTONISHED at the consulate. I didn't have one single shred of identification. Nothing. Brian had given me $80 I had in my pocket, but nothing else. I told them what happened, and I did have a police report I had filed yesterday morning before going to the airport -- but again, I had no documentation for the police, just told my story.

They asked me if I had $97.00 for a new passport. I produced my $80 and 8000 colones and a bit of change. 8000 about 16.00, so I was less than a dollar short. The counsel guy said, that's all you have? I said, that's it. Maybe I could keep 350 colones (80 cents) to get back to the hostel to get my bag?

He told me to keep the money. And on the spot he filled out a form and gave me a passport FREE. It's only good for one trip into the U.S. and expires in early December. But right now I have a valid US passport in my pocket, they even took the pictures for me right there at the consulate.

Brian and Adam pushed hard for me to go with them, and when I adamantly said, no, I just wouldn't feel good about that, Brian loaded me up with too much money, and they dropped me at the airport on their way north. I then took the airport bus back to Casa Ridgeway.

AA kept their bargain, and have me on a flight early tomorrow morning. Since Brian gave me a bunch of money, and I only have one night to pay at the hostel (all of $10), I will go out late this afternoon and have another gigantic feast in the honor of those two marvelous young men.

As I say, the theft was, of course, a disappointment, and a relatively minor bother. But this has been one of the great vacations of my life, and I am just wild about this wonderful country and these beautiful, kind and helpful people. (With the exception of at least one....) :)

I would come back anytime, and may well, but I rather suspect the next time I come this way south it will be to check out Panama. Nonetheless, I love this country, will miss those 6 days I would have had with Brian and Adam, but will feel much more satisfied knowing I am not cramping their budget or style on this trip of theirs.

So, this may be the last note from Costa Rica to you folks on THIS trip, but I may write some concluding notes when I get home.

Special thanks to Brian and Adam for their generosity and kindness and understanding, even understanding why I decided not to go with them. Thanks to Jeanne, Bob and John for taking on the state-side work on getting those credit cards and travelers checks cancelled. And a very special thanks to the phenomenally trusting folks at the U.S. Consulate here in San Jose for their speedy, kind, efficient and understanding service.

It's been a marvelous trip, and I've got this huge meal coming soon. I might even make it a lunch meal. I'm sort of up now, all is settled, I just have to have some food, do some reading, organize as pre-dawn taxi and spend my last day having fun in Costa Rica. Hey, just to show I haven't any hard feelings at all, I going to go walk that same street where the pick-pocket got me to let that sort of person that they can't discourage me!!!!

Bob Corbett




Bob Corbett