I think you make a very good point,and have hit upon a topic worthy of this "Cruiser Forum." That topic being, "Travel Safety
."Hopefully others will contribute their opinons and experiences." I agree with your statement " it is not all Disney World with beautiful islands, friendly sharks and honest natives..." I grew up in a fairly large size city. I saw a woman get shot to death at the age of nine. While the city wasn't the "Bronx",it had it's share of crime. Loving adventure, I usually went into places that I should'nt have, but by doing so I learned to become "street wise." In my opinion,every predator,in every species on planet earth share some common traits on how they seek their victims.These are (1) target identification (2) weakness (3) isolation. These three things can take on different forms,but a predator will recognize them and key in on them. Let me give you three scenarios that I've be involved in to illustrate what I mean. A crime wasn't committed,but easily could have been. As you read them, try to imagine that you're a predator and see if you recognize the three traits.
(1) Marsh Harbor,Abaco - I'm sitting at a dockside bar having a beer
. At the end of the bar is a well dressed older man with gaudy gold rings on several fingers. He has with him a buddy and two young,attactive women. The man has obviously had to much to drink. As he's hugging,and carressing the women, they keep talking about a Rolex watch that they had seen at the jewerly shop down the street.One of the girls wants him to buy it for her. The man sends his buddy down the street with his credit card to buy both the girls Rolex watches,while he buys rounds at the bar for everyone.The buddy returns shortly with the two new watches and the women giggle as they put them on and parade around the bar.Shortly after, the two girls and the man's buddy say they are going back to the boat,and the well dressed older man says he will meet them back there in a little while.He wants to have a few more drinks.
(2) San Jose Airport
,Costa Rica - All travel literature I've read prior to my trip,indicates that San Jose is notorious for predators preying on tourists.Rental cars are easily recognizable. I'm in line to go through customs
.I'm wearing old worn out pants,tee-shirt,and dirty tennis shoes. I kick my canvas
bags in front of me as the line moves slowly forward. I'm quiet, but act annoyed as locals surround me.Ahead of me is a small framed man in a tailored suit,and apparently his beautiful wife.She is wearing a white silk dress,custom sunglasses,and has in front of her a cart piled high with Samsonite luggage.In a loud voice,her husband is asking the attendant where the rental car counter is at,and how far it is to San Jose.
(3) Guadaloupe,West Indies - A delayed connector flight causes myself and crew to arrive late at our charterd boat.It's approximately 10 pm.A female crew member
needs somthing from the local convenient store,but the store only excepts Francs.,and the store closes at 11 pm.We've not had time to convert our money
. I see a teenager pulling up to the dock
in a skiff. I hold up some American money
and ask him "exchange." Through broken English
, he says yes,and he'll take me across the bay in his skiff to it. We get to the automated exchange machine,and on the way back to the skiff,the teenager sees a girl he knows at an outside bar.We all sit down at a table,and after some short conversation,I mention to the young man that I really need to get back to my boat.He nods,but keeps on talking to the girl. I casually survey
the surroundings and notice some rough looking characters at the bar occasionally glancing over at me. As the waitress delivers my beer
, I casually pull out my large folding dive knife out of my pocket and lay it on the table, as I'm pulling money out of my pocket. I strike up a conversation with her while leaving the folded knife out in full view on the table. Shortly after, my young friend takes me back across the bay to my boat. I give him a generous tip for his help, and say good night.
To sum this all up, I offer these suggestions on how to minimize your risk when traveling.
on your travel destination
.Always be aware of your surroundings.
*Dress to fit in,not stand out.
*Most other countries think all Americans are rich.Do everything you can think of to present yourself as not,even if you are.
*Don't carry cameras and fanny packs drapped all over you. Buy an old backpack to carry that stuff in.
*Find a "best friend" wherever you're at. I carry small tokens of appreciation to give new friends when I travel. Not money! Alot of people will view that as you're trying to buy their friendship.Be sincere in your efforts,or don't do it at all.
*Stay in groups when possible.
*Carry something to protect yourself if possible, (if the law allows) for worst case scenarios.
*Think ahead, instead of looking back,and chances are that you'll avoid trouble before it finds you!