It’s been nice having our own transportation here in Bariloche. It’s enabled us to see much more of the area than if we had relied on buses, taxis and excursions.
Here’s a picture of our rental car, a compact Chevrolet. Everything is manual: transmission; windows; door locks; lights; and, there is no alarm. But I don’t mind shifting, nor do we miss the other conveniences. The car gets good gas mileage and gets us where we want to go.
We rented this Chevy from Hertz for one week, picking the car up at the airport. I told the counter agent that I didn’t need Hertz’s insurance because my AmEx card provides car insurance, but he told me I either had to buy Hertz’s insurance or authorize them to put a $21,000 (US$) hold on my credit card to cover damage and theft. I opted for the Hertz insurance.
Oddly, when I asked him to explain the Hertz insurance coverage, he said it covered everything, with no deductible, except that it did not cover: 1) theft; or, 2) if I rolled the car over. I laughed and asked him how many times that has happened. To my surprise, he answered, “Three rollovers since December.” Wow!
For some reason, Hertz posts their cars with a big, yellow sticker, advertising, for the benefit of the local banditry, that “THIS IS A HERTZ RENTAL CAR AND THESE ARE TOURISTS WITH COOL STUFF!”
At the end of our first full day in Bariloche, after picking up our clothes from a laundry that we had dropped them off at earlier in the day, we went into the city center to walk around the plaza,…
…do a little shopping and have dinner. Some of the buildings are really charming, as you can see in these photos, and the town square is the local teenager hangout, buzzing with activity.
We had parked the rental car on one of the busiest streets in the city, just around the corner from the central police station, and we both checked all the doors to make sure the car was locked and secure.
We returned to the car after dinner, just as the sun was setting, to find the passenger door unlocked! A quick inventory disclosed that my sunglasses and iPhone/GPS dock were missing. We had been burglarized!
But we congratulated ourselves on the fact that Dale’s backpack, that contained my Panasonic Lumix camera, Dale’s iPhone4S and headphones, and her prescription sunglasses was safely locked in the trunk….
Then, I checked the trunk.
Not only was Dale’s backpack (and its contents) gone, but so was our laundry – all of our underwear, shorts, T-shirts and short sleeve shirts, a dress, several pairs of socks, and my most comfortable traveling pants!!!
It was Athens, all over again. Professional thieves. They had either been able to pick the door and trunk locks, had duplicate or master keys from Hertz, or, more likely, they had jimmied the door lock and gotten into the trunk through the back seat.
However they did it, they really got us.
So, the next day we went to the police station to file a complaint.
Just like in Athens, we got to see the inside of the local police station. It seems that in this country, they put a lot of faith in God (or at least in the Virgin Mary) to protect themselves and visitors like us.
I think I’m going to start collecting police reports from around the world. I’ve got two, so far:
And I’ve figured out what the “S” in the model for the iPhone4S stands for: “stolen.”
I also understand now why the Hertz insurance policy doesn’t cover theft.
On Wednesday, at El Tronador, the car was broken into a second time, but this time, all our stuff was safe and sound in my backpack, on my back. We left nothing in the car, nothing to chance, and nothing for the banditos.