The Bird Shit Blessing
Does a bird shit in the street? The answer is no – not in Buenos Aires, anyway. If you are noticeably foreign (I have white-blonde hair and rock a backpack on the daily), female and are walking down the street by yourself when a pigeon poos on you, keep on movin’ sister.
I had been studying Spanish for a week in B.A, and the first day I decided to give studying the flick and explore the city, I made it a total of two blocks from my hostel. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the birds weren’t just chirping but releasing their bowels from the top of the surrounding 18th century buildings. Or so I thought. Unsuspectingly, I was hit by a mass of stringy green goo not just on the shoulder and not just on my head, or on my shoe, but all three PLUS my backpack. At the time, I didn’t think of it as suspicious, but now it all makes sense..
Straight away, three Argentinians came to my “rescue”, wiping me and my clothes with tissues, and most importantly making it clear that my backpack had been hit with the foul smelling substance as well. I took the backpack off and put it at my feet, making sure it was in my sight and still touching me. The one woman of the trio made herself busy cleaning my hair while one of the men was pointing at places that was still covered in green. I presume this was the moment the third man struck, and I was robbed.
Here I was, smiling and laughing at my misfortune of being shat on by a pigeon (but keeping in mind that is supposed to be good luck!) while they were taking my credit card, cash and wallet – probably smiling and laughing, but for totally different reasons. When they had done the deed, they sent me in the opposite direction to where they were headed by telling me there was a bathroom there. They had definitely picked up their walking pace, and when I couldn’t find a toilet anywhere in the vicinity, I realised I had been done. I frantically searched through every pocket of my bag as well as checking if I had done the old bra trick. I hadn’t. I managed to get home and cancel my card in time, so they only got away with just over $100. For some reason, they didn’t take my iPod or GoPro, both of which were in the same place as the cash, and they weren’t violent, so overall I was counting myself lucky.
It didn’t occur to me that the whole thing had been a setup, and that they would go to the extent of fake bird poo, but when a French woman came into my dorm at 2:30am after being with the police all day for the same reason, it became pretty clear. This poor woman lost her cash, card, camera, and worst of all, her passport. Unfortunately, the police did nothing, and I’m not sure whether it was because they couldn’t, or because they didn’t want to. Maybe the whole situation shone light on my naivety, but I am certainly more aware of the things that can happen.
So if you find yourself in a similar situation involving pigeons and poo, keep walking, pretend you didn’t feel it hit, and embrace the smell of off mayonnaise. There’s a tip Lonely Planet doesn’t have for you…