This is how my bag got stolen
Ayacucho Travel Blog› entry 5 of 30 › view all entries
How my bag got stolen.
At the bus station
So, our plan was to go from Ayacucho to Cusco by bus, and there is only one way to do that: you take the bus company Empresa de las Chankas. It is not a very good or safe company but it is the only one that braves the long journey. It takes about 20 to 25 hours, depending how long you will have to wait for your connecting bus at Andahuayllas, which lays smack in the middle of the trip. So it is about 10 hours to Andahuayllas and then another 10 hours from Andahuayllas to Cusco. These were some of the longest hours of my life.
We decided that the best thing to do is to start the journey in the evening, so the second 10 hour lap would be during the day and we would arrive at cusco in the evening again. This way you can go straight to bed after such a long and exhausting trip. So we left Ayacucho at around 18:45.
It was already dark at the Las Chankas station when we arrived. We checked in with our tickets and waited another 15 minutes for our bus. There was a woman at the station that warned me for thieves and told me to keep an eye on my belongings. The bus was ready and we loaded our backpacks in the trunk. More stuff was piled on top of them so our backpacks were reasonably safe. The bus was dark but open and we could sit inside if we want, and we did. Inside it was dark (as I said) but there were already a handful of people sitting here and there. We put our bags in the overhead compartment and our coats in the chairs. We had inconvenient seats, jut in front of the stair where you enter the bus, so we were open and visible for everybody.
A guy approached us, staying outside, telling us that our tickets still needed to be registered and my mate went with him and I stayed alone with our belongings inside the bus. Not much later another guy approached me while my friend was still away. He was cleaning the seats, spraying a perfume on every seat, working his way through the bus. He asked me to move aside for a minute so he could spray our seats. At first I refused to move, but he kept asking me, so I took my coat and stood outside for a moment, in front of the stair, which was the only entrance to the bus. I kept looking upward into the bus. The guy sprayed our seats, moved on and motioned to me that it was ok and I could come back up. So I did and while I turned to sit down again, he left the bus, going down behind my back.
The guy was gone and I looked at the place where my bag should be, and it was gone. It actually took a while for me to realize that my bag was stolen! This never happened to me before. There was an empty space up there. I checked the overhead compartments everywhere, looked behind seats, checked again. It was really gone! Stolen! My camera! My pictures! Sweater! Sunglasses! I wanted to jump out of the bus and run after that cleaner guy, but my friend’s stuff was still in the bus and there were lots of people prowling around the bus. Luckily at that moment my friend returned, saying our tickets were fine and the whole registation thing was nonsense.
He explained for me the crime to the bus company, and they asked me if there was anyone outside that I could recognise. I went outside and looked at everybody, but it was dark and had been dark in the bus and everybody looked alike. Running and cursing, I looked behind every corner of the station, but by then my bag must have been a cityblock away. The bus was ready to leave with our backpacks and there was no way I could ever get my things back. I decided to get on with the journey and went back to my seat.
During the journey
Las Chankas is the only bus company between Ayacucho and Andahuayllas. Consequently, there are people going into the bus and stepping out of the bus all the time because they have to go to some little village. As I said, in front of us was the staircase and all night there were passengers entering and standing right next to me. I of course was furious about my bag getting stolen and I was suspicious about every passenger that went to stand next to me. I didn’t sleep all night. We had the worst seats! Open and visible for everybody!
Maybe I slept for 15 minutes. So did my friend. I woke up and he woke up and he says to me: “My phone is gone. It was in my pocket, and now it’s gone!”
We borrowed a flashlight from a german girl behind us and we searched everywhere between and beneath our seats, but his phone was gone. There were two guys in front of us though, on the stairs, behaving very suspicious. At first they were just talking and watching people, but while we were searching for my friend’s phone, they had turned their backs on us and were quietly talking to eachother, occaisionally looking back to us. They must have had the phone! What a nightmare! We confronted these guys and asked about our phone but they said they didn’t have it, showing their own phone. So. What were we to do? We didn’t really want to start a fight, but we were pissed off for sure. We sat there a while in doubt and then the two guys left the bus, off to some village. So there went the phone.
Five hours later we arrived at Andahuayllas. It was four o’clock in the morning. My friend took another good look under his seat and YES! There was the phone! It was not stolen!
We thought we could now just take our connecting bus and continue the journey to Cusco, but no. The next bus was scheduled to leave at nine, so that was a five hour wait! It was dark and very very cold. I would not have been so cold if I had my sweater, but it was in my bag so I lost it. Tired, angry and cold I waited in the dark for five hours. What a nightmare.
From Andahuayllas to Cusco
The remaining 10 hours were actually quite beautiful but I had a hard time enjoying any of it. I was thinking all the time: if I had had my camera, I could have made a nice picture! How we are slaves to the camera sometimes. I realized that then. But long stretches of the trip were nerve-wrecking, with abysses next to us of hundreds of meters deep. It was far in the evening when we finally arrived in Cusco. A good night sleep would do me good, but there were problems with our booking! Not now! For just one night we had to sleep in another hotel.
And the next day, it just got worse... stay tuned :-)