Paranoid in South America


Anticipating travel to South America was both exciting and scary. Admittedly, reports of muggings, kidnappings and police corruption got me a little on edge but I was determined not to let fear dictate my itinerary. So I made it my business to prepare for the worst...

  • Criminals work in teams. One distracts you while the other steals from you. A well-known distraction is to have an older person fall into you while his/her accomplice steals your bag. Another one is when someone spills a drink on you and as they are helping you to dry off...well, you get the idea.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere.
  • Tourists are profiled by the clothes they wear - tennis shoes are a dead give-away..
  • Your chances of being kidnapped in South America are slim. 
  • Wearing jewelry is an open invitation to thieves.
  • Cell phones are hot ticket items in South America.
  • Hotel safes are not safe. The staff have keys.
  • Knives and broken bottles are weapons of choice. Rarely guns.

Was I paranoid? 
  • Our stash (for Passports/Cash etc.) was the toaster of the adorable little place we rented. I thought it was ingenious. 
  • Only enough money for the day, a credit card and drivers license were tucked securely in my (ahem) bosom.
  • My cellphone was in my other (ahem) bosom.
  • Nothing of value were in our pockets.
  • My camera was too large to be concealed - so I didn't take it.
  • Being on "high alert", I walked purposefully with a keen eye for suspects at all times.
Yes, I was paranoid. 

Fortunately, our month in South America was without incident. We witnessed extreme levels of poverty - unlike I have ever seen before and gained an understanding of just how enticing a foreigner wearing bling, carrying handbags on their shoulders and cameras around their necks would be to someone without shoes on their feet or food in their stomachs.

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