Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Aren't You Scared?

When talking about or discussing travel/living in any Latin America country the very first thing I am asked without question is Aren't You Scared?

Bad grammar aside this image represents gun crime in American cities vs Latin American countries although having Albania, South Africa, the Philippines and Cambodia does give it a decent world slant. As with anywhere when you leave the city and crime will go down 75 - 80%. I am using this as a guide to start the conversation and put gun crime into perspective. 

Is LA safe yes but your not going to wander Cinco Punto in East LA. Are you safe in New York of course as along as you do not walk around Harlem and Washington Heights drunk at 2 am. Chicago, stay out of Englewood and Washington Park. Miami its Overtown, Liberty City, Opa-locka, and Little Haiti.

Well the same goes for Managua, Guatemala City, San Salvador, San Jose, Belmopan and Tegucigalpa. There are areas to avoid so logically you do not go there (Logic being relative of course). I spent time in San Pedro Sula which ranks at the top of every violent city list every year. This is based on sixty percent of the country's Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18 gang members that are concentrated in three sectors of San Pedro Sula, the world's murder capital.. So DON'T GO THERE! We drank in a TGI Fridays and walked back to our hotel. We did not jump in a cab and go "have a look" at the bad areas because it will be cool. That will certainly get you killed! Think of the city you are in right now. Where would you NOT GO late at night?
Now for a bit of perspective the USA does fall to 26th when comparing country to country. That being said I think you also need to use total population as a barometer as well. But as I said, perspective.
Now do not get me wrong Canada is no Utopia. We have Asian gangs on the West coast shooting up restaurants, Toronto and Montreal have their own big city issues and collateral damage including to many people getting caught in the cross fire of gun fights. The prairie capitals have a large violent crime underbelly and the East Coast, well they just hit you with a big old cod and then take you for a beer. God Love em! My point is crime exists everywhere?  Get drunk and wander around Managua at 2 am well yes sir your a target, however you are the same target in Honolulu and Halifax. 

Personally I have been robbed in Australia, Bolivia and the United States. I have been bothered in Mexico, Sweden, England, and Italy, Canada and the USA. I had more issue in London England than anywhere else I have been. Most times I was dumb and put myself into the situation either from inexperience, apathy or just being dumb (see comment above about being drunk and wandering around at 2 am). I have had to deal with police in Guatemala, Panama, Bolivia and the States. I have been ripped off by money changers, scammed at borders,  fought with a rickshaw driver (which was dumb) and had other various negative experiences. I have also had to have my passport replaced 4 times (twice stolen, twice lost)  and the Government of Canada now looks at me with a cocked head and suspicious eyes. If you think travel perfect is out there then go to your All Inclusive Resort and then complain how bored you were after 3 days, how far the beach was from your hotel, that is was not like it looked like in the brochure, that the food was not great, the excursions a rip off or any other myriad of issues when you get home.

My friend in Niagara Falls was just talking about how his parents home was vandalized by someone kicking in the back door while they sat on the front porch. This was on a busy street in broad daylight in a "good neighborhood" in a smallish town. My point is this. Bad things can and will happen anywhere you are in the world including your safe hometown. You can hide in your house, watch Mainstream Media and have them add continuous fuel to your scared world view, live in a gated community, buy a gun and feel "safe" or you can get out into the world, be aware and alert, live, learn, experience and try to understand how different and yet the same everyone on the planet is. 

Finally, just because they are poor does not make them criminals! Some of the richest people in the world are the biggest crooks. Its insane how that always seems to get washed over and National Travel alerts get issued when guy gets robbed in Mexico for $50.. The questions were you drunk, what time was it or where were you never seem to be a topic of discussion.

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