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Friday the 13th


My latest encounter with Friday the 13th occurred in Argentina. On this particular day in 2009, my girlfriend Carole and I were in Bariloche to hike and rock climb in and around the Patagonian Andes. We had found a great spot outside of Bariloche off of the road that lead up to the local ski hill ‘Piedras Blanca’s’ to set up camp. We had been camped there for five nights and it was quiet place surrounded by pines trees and had a small clearing for cooking. We had a view of the lake, Lago Nahuel Huapi and were happy with our choice spot.

On the morning of Friday the 13th we had gone into town to meet my Scottish pal Pete and his wife Fiona. There we spent the afternoon lounging in the sun at the local park, behind the Centro Civico. We decided to go back to Pete and Fee’s campsite in the early evening to have a BBQ. We grilled the renowned beef of Argentina and feasted for 6 hours, drinking a few bottles of amazing Luigi Bosca wine from Mendoza. While Pete and Fiona told us tales of there trekking adventures in El Chalten and Torre del Paines in Southern Patagonia. By eleven PM Carole and I were tired so we caught a local bus back to our bush camp and walked the last twenty minutes in the dark. When we arrived Carole jumped into the tent and thinking we had left the tent open and was worried about the mosquitoes, but then wondered where our 2 huge 75 litre back packs were. I looked inside and outside the tent but the packs were gone! I searched the tent to see what else was missing. Most of our clothes, all the rock climbing gear, ropes, shoes, harness, toiletries, down jackets, t-shirts, socks…about 50 kilos of stuff in total. We were shocked, stunned and tired. I decided it wasn’t safe to spend the night there. So we packed up the tent and the last of the remaining stuff. Luckily I had two huge plastic bags I was going to use as storage bags when we went trekking, so we stuffed everything into them. At midnight on Friday the 13th we had to move our camp. We tried to be stealthy in our movements, we moved in the dark and very quietly. This was to avoid the detection of the murderous heathens who were waiting in the bushes to slit our throats. It was Absolutely Terrifying!
We found a spot set up the tent and bivy for the night, but I had a restless sleep. I got up the next morning at first light and went back to search our camp for clues left by the robber or robbers, the bum, the teenager, who ever robbed us. I searched the area for an hour, following paths, tracks, looking for footprints and clues. I thought like Sherlock Holmes, like a scared teenager, like a poor Argentinean farmer, all the time I felt as though something was still around the camp. I kept thinking if I could just find something. Finally I found the 2 RAB downe jackets—I was excited! I returned to see Carole with the jackets and had a quick coffee. I went back up to the scene of the robbery for another 30 minutes, but found nothing.
We packed up stuff from our bivy spot and caught a bus back to Pete and Fiona’s campsite. Carole told them the tale while I went to 3 police stations and spent 2 hours filing a robbery report in my Spanglish. The police officer was very helpful but it felt as though she had drawn the short straw and had to help the gringo who was clearly very exhausted. And wondering why was he carrying thousands of dollars of equipment to climb rocks. Then we reported Carole’s visa stolen and decided to go back for another look. We both thought maybe the thief would have hidden one of the bags because the weight of the two back packs would be bone crushing. Like I said, at least 50 kilos of stuff and the robber had all ready dropped 2 jackets during his hasty exit. As we trotted up the road we looked over the embankments, down small side paths, and in the bushes. Carole headed up a slope with tracked out soil and a minute later she was squealing ‘James, James’ in a very panicky voice. I thought she was being attacked or smashed, I ran down the hill and she had discovered the 2 huge blue back packs. She had hauled them out from under some freshly cut pine branches. Luckily she had caught a glimpse of blue within the pine brush. We did a quick inventory and everything was there, except my size 9.5 Nike cross trainers. We were absolutely ecstatic. We had found everything. I kept thinking of the cheesy cliché,’ never give up’, and maybe those people know something.
Although this event taught me to be more determined it also triggered my superstitious belief in unlucky Friday the 13th. March Friday the 13th was not an exciting day for me. I stayed in my bungalow all day. I am also not looking forward to Novembers Friday the 13th.
 

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