We choose an outside table and order a couple of caipirinhas to battle the heat.
“Towels?” a street vendor holds up a handful of dishtowels for us to consider.
Another visitor moments later,
And so on every few minutes until a drunk man approaches and sways toward us.
“Can I have money for the bus?”
“No. Lo siento.”
My purse is sitting in my lap, and I feel uneasy. When the man leaves, I place it on the ground against the wall. The table and chair legs are substantial enough to block anyone who might reach and run from behind me. We chat for a while until a woman rolls up a large, janitor-style cart filled with small boxes.
“But it smells very good, see?”
“This one? Patchouli?”
She begins to wheel the cart away, and then stops suddenly. She leans in close to my girlfriend and mumbles something incoherent. My friend looks confused.
“What beaaaautiful earrings,” the vendor says. “So beaaaautiful.” She comes even closer to admire them.
My girlfriend and I exchange a look, and she’s on her way.
Oddly, she’s the last visitor we have that evening, though several vendors approach other tables. We finish our cocktails and when the bill arrives, I look down for my purse. Of course, it’s gone.
After some conjecture, we figure that it was most likely the incense woman. It would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for someone to grab it from the sides, so I’m fairly sure there was a child or small person hidden on the bottom of her cart who reached in between our legs from the front of the table and grabbed it. Whoever it was had a bit of difficulty (the purse was really crammed in there), and hence the prolonged and awkward earring admiration.
-About $100 in cash. Ugh.
-My gorgeous green wallet with bright pink interior that was a gift from my father in law.
-My very favorite, silver lamÃ© clutch that I got for $2 at Goodwill. Irreplaceable.
-My notebook. My awesome Moleskine travel notebook filled with Argentina goodness.Ugh.
-The knowledge that, for the first time in about five years, I left the house without my camera. Suck it, incense lady.
-I am impressed enough by the thief’s skill that I didn’t punish myself for too long over stupidly putting my purse on the ground.
-Someone found some of my abandoned wallet contents the next day and emailed me, because most people are goodies.
-After four years of marriage and a child, I finally have the incentive to get a driver’s license and credit cards with my married name on them.
In conclusion, when in doubt, shove your purse up your skirt.