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Day 280: A series of unfortunate events in Colombia


Colombia Comuna 13 street graffiti 2 boys - Vagabond Journals


No, Colombia is not the super dangerous, violent country that it once was. But like most countries, including South Africa, theft, pick-pocketing and robbery still happens - and tourists are the targets. So this post is about something much milder, but it can have a significantly negative effect on your life and your travels.


Our bank cards and cash were stolen from our locker in the hostel we were volunteering at in Taganga.


So I know, many of you think that this is not a big deal, but in actual fact, as South African citizens, this was a crisis that lead to a series of very frustrating and unfortunate events. Allow me to explain...


As South African citizens, we had to apply for a Colombian Visa, and it is valid for 3 months (90 days). More about the application process here.


We travelled and saw what we came to see. Then we applied through Workaway to volunteer at a hostel in Taganga from 14 July to 06 August, with 6 extra days on Po's visas (16 on mine - no idea why they had different dates) before we had to leave the country. Ample time.


Then my wallet got stolen.


The day before, we withdrew money from the ATM, COP 700 000 (approximately R 3, 380). Note that because we were not paying for accommodation, this was enough money to last us until we leave the country. We always withdraw the maximum amount of money from the ATM as we lucky South Africans always get charged an additional COP 12 600 in fees per transaction regardless of the amount you withdraw.


We suspect a young, very talkative Colombian guy who stayed in our room, because 1) he was over-friendly and offered to buy and make food for 10 people there at the time, and 2) he booked for 2 nights, but stayed only for 1 and suddenly had to leave back to Bogota at 1 am in the morning (suspicious right?). But this will remain a mystery.


Ok, it was also our fault because we did not lock the locker - this is the first time ever that something like this happened there! However, the money and cards were in a small pouch, inside a foldable shopping bag in the back of the locker, more like a huge cupboard actually. This cupboard had all our toiletries and other stuff in it in the front of the locker. The only way anyone would know there was money in there, is if they knew what they were looking for and where to find it.


Anyway, now to stop cards and order new ones: we had the Mastercard Multicurrency CashPassport, often advertised as the best travel banking solution for South Africans, received from our bank FNB (I am still working on a post that compares fees). And we have used these cards in all our other overseas trips. It works great... until t