So I’ve been going on these “all-guy” surf trips for about three years now and have been on other international surf trips and family vacations before we started this annual tradition. Something I’ve never really payed attention to was the room key. I always thought they were a hassle to remember and just got in your way while you were out doing your thing. This trip I found out how vital they are.
We got to La Playa de Las Flores on Saturday evening and were told we were staying in this house that was separate from the rest of the surf camp. It seemed pretty cool since there were two separate rooms and we put the two “old guys” in one room and then I was in a room with my brother and our friend. It was great and all until the camp manager told us the group that had these two rooms before us broke/lost the keys, so we would be without keys for about a day. We didn’t think much of it since this is a pretty secluded place, the staff was always roaming the premises working, and we thought “who would actually come and steal from us?”
Our typical routine was to wake up early and be on the beach to meet our boat driver at about 6:00am to take us to Punta Mango. We’d surf there for a few hours and leave when it got too windy and crowded and come back to the camp to grab some food and then maybe go for a surf out front before lunch. Afternoon’s consisted of naps and the evening would usually yield another surf session out front. Everything was going great until Tuesday.
We asked our boat driver to meet us at 5:15am on Tuesday morning so we could be the first ones out at Punta Mango. Lucky for us our plan worked, except for the fact that our new Aussie friends beat us out there which worked out for the best because we got to hang with them and made some new friends. I was stoked, to say the least, about how the day was going until I went back to my room. I wanted to throw my backpack in my room before I ordered breakfast, but it was a little tough since the door was locked. That was a little odd since we still didn’t have keys and were leaving the doors unlocked and hiding our valuables. I thought it was a stupid mistake until I found out the other guys’ room was also locked.
I went and took some pictures of my brother and dad, who were out surfing, until John came over to tell me some good news and bad news: my breakfast was ready (good news) and they got the door open and it seemed like someone probably went into our room when we were surfing at Punta Mango (bad news). One of the staff members had climbed a book case and was going to crawl through the ceiling to unlock our door for us and found a bent key on top. Our buddy who’s about 6’5″, 250lbs took it from him and bent it back to its original shape and tried to unlock our door. Go figure, it was our key that was missing/broken and still hadn’t been replaced. Then he went and got the manager’s key and unlocked the other room.
I did a quick spot check and I still had my phone, computer, passport, and money clip with my cards in it, so I thought I was in the clear. Once everyone was back together I heard my dad say he was missing some cash. We all went and checked our cash stashes and wouldn’t ya know, I was missing $60. I think when we were done tallying what we lost, whoever got into our rooms made off with about $500 all together.
As you can guess, we were thoroughly annoyed that it took that situation for us to get room keys and it definitely put a damper on our trip.
We left Wednesday afternoon and are now in La Playa del Tunco for the second half of our surf trip and we made sure we were given room keys right away. This time we even have a safe in our room to put our valuables, so we’re pretty happy right now. Heck, we even started hiding our valuables in obscure places like the drop down ceiling, for bigger items. I’ve also heard that hiding your money in a toiletry bag works and let’s not forget the money in a plastic bag placed in the back of the toilet trick.
I guess this unfortunately goes to show that no matter how much you want to trust and have faith in people, be sure to get a room key (no matter what) and lock up your valuables so something like this doesn’t happen to you.
What do you do to prevent theft when you’re traveling?