Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mexico Stole my Camera

I struggled with the title, as each time I wrote it I sounded like I was making a generalized statement about Mexican citizens. But for the record, I've been to Mexico twice, and both times I've come back with less gear than I when I arrived (granted, the first time it was a tall beer glass that my wife accidentally knocked into the ocean...)

When I arrived home from my one week trip to Puerto Vallarta I realized that my bag was missing my brand new Canon 50D, and the Sigma 17-70 lens that was attached to it. Not to mention a couple of filters attached to the lens, the mounting plate for my tripod and the memory card inside.

Fortunately I have one of these so I didn't lose any of the pictures save for a handful I had shot on the morning I left Mexico. I've been trying to piece together where it went missing, and the most likely suspects I can come up with are the cleaning staff of the hotel and the can driver that took us to the airport.

Anyone who travels with a whack of camera equipment knows what a pain it is to go through airport security. It usually goes something like this:

Airport security guy: "Sir, is this your bag?"
Me: "Yes"
Airport security guy: "Well I hope you're not late for you flight because I'm going to inspect every last piece of equipment you have."

..10 minutes later:

Airport security guy: "OK sir. I guess you're not going to try and cause any trouble... have a nice flight." [then to a suspicious guy in a trenchcoat trying to leave discreetly] "Excuse me sir... is this your bag?"
Suspicious guy in a trench coat: "uh... yeah..." [trembling and sweating]
Airport security guy: "Here you go! You almost left without your bag! Have a nice flight!"

OK so maybe I'm stretching the truth a little, but I'm ALWAYS the guy in the security line getting "randomly inspected." The thing that should have tipped me off is that my bag was neither searched at the airport in Puerto Vallarta nor before my connecting flight in Chicago. I should have realized then that my camera wasn't with me at that point, but I was too busy thinking up witty things to say to the security staff because they opted not to search my bag.

So my camera disappeared somewhere between the hotel and my arrival at Puerto Vallarta's airport.

I'm working through insurance right now, and short of my deductible I am going to be reimbursed for it, and like I mentioned before, I didn't lose any of the photos, which would have been a much worse situation. Plus it gave me an excuse to upgrade the missing Sigma lens to something a little better. I ended up getting Canon's newest 15-85 mm EF-S lens, which is a fantastic lens. Sharp as hell, and focuses INSANELY fast thanks to the USM focusing motor. The only thing I miss about my Sigma is how close I could get with it -- literally it could focus within a centimeter or two of the front element of the lens. The new Canon's minimum focusing distance is about 12 cm. Not bad, but harder to get those wild wide angle close-up shots.

The theft of my camera was the worst part of the trip, but really it was just a bad luck trip in general. We all got sick at least one day out of our stay -- all on different days, of course --, I gut stung by a jellyfish while I was snorkeling, and Christine sprained her ankle pretty bad in the ocean when she got hit by a monster wave. So I'm not looking forward to returning to Mexico any time soon. Ironically, my brother-in-law is getting married in Mexico in October...

Anyway, like usual here are a few shots from Puerto Vallarta, which aside from whole the camera theft issue, is a quite beautiful, albeit boring, place to visit. A great place to go if want to spend your whole vacation lying on a beach.

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