It finally happened. I lost my first big item during this trip. I can be absent minded sometimes and that is why I’m mentally prepared to lose everything I’m carrying.
It happened on a taxi ride after I arrived in Buenos Aires from Uruguay. I remember I was checking my phone and had put it in between my legs before reminding myself that I might forget about it later, so I ended up putting it in my pocket. After I got off the taxi and went up my cousin’s apartment, I realized that the phone was no longer in my pocket. It must have fallen off as I exited the taxi. I don’t think it was pickpocketed since I didn’t come close to anybody during the 30-meter walk to the apartment entrance. I called my number right away from a landline (I was using a local SIM card on my cell phone). The first three calls went to voicemail after ringing for a while. After that, the calls went straight to voicemail. Someone had switched the phone off. After about 30 minutes of panic, I resigned to the idea that the phone was gone forever, and told myself that there was no point in feeling bad about something that was out of my control. I lost a bunch of pictures that I hadn’t backed up.
The truth is that that phone was becoming a pain in the ass. It was a 2-year old Samsung Galaxy Nexus with a malfunctioning on/off button, and very sluggish performance. There would be times when I had to keep pressing the power button (up to 30 minutes) to try to turn it on. The idea was to replace it during my brief return to the US before heading to New Zealand in January 2015 as cell phones in South America can cost twice or triple the price back home. For all the negatives such as seeing a hostel lobby full of people fixated on their phones instead of socializing with each other, I have found my cell phone to be a very valuable travel companion. I often download maps before going out sightseeing in each city. I’d then use the GPS on it to find my way around. It has also helped me figure out where to get off buses, book hostels, and translate languages. To me, the pros outweigh the cons.
I started looking for a replacement right away on a local site similar to ebay. I wanted a used phone since traveling puts them through a lot of wear and tear, and I didn’t want to babysit it too much (as I would do with a brand new phone). After I few hours of searching, I found a LG Nexus 5 phone for US$380 (black market exchange rate for the dollar). The phone was almost new and since a new one in the US cost US$350, I found the price to be very reasonable. I met with the vendor at his house, and he was the nicest man spending over one hour setting up the phone for me and explaining its features.
All in all, despite an unexpected $380 expense, I’m very happy with the new phone since it was an expense was planning for anyway in 5 months time. I hope this is the last phone I have to buy for the remainder of this long trip.