Help me understand the safety concerns of Guetemala and Honduras
Replies: 109 - Last Post: Sep 27, 2012 11:35 AM Last Post By: fowler9
Mar 10, 2012 7:06 PM
60Canadian woman gonna mess your mind
Canadian woman, stay away from me
Canadian woman, mama let me be
Don't come hangin' around my door
I don't wanna see your face no more
I got more important things to do
Than spend my time growin' old with you
Now woman, I said stay away
Canadian woman, listen what I say
Mar 10, 2012 7:09 PM
Mar 10, 2012 7:34 PM
Mar 10, 2012 11:59 PM
63Wow this is a very entertaining thread! So much good advice. The best suggestion I read is that you stay at home. However, if you are still set on traveling, I think you need to start out with small trips, perhaps to Victoria or further east like Calgary. Once you have mastered travel in Canada, you then you can work your way up to traveling to the USA. Make sure to start somewhere safe, like Montana, unless the Canadian Embassy has a travel warning about it. You never know what could happen in those sleepy towns or in the farm communities. Cows can be viscous. Maybe in 10 or 20 years you'll be brave enough and have gained enough street smarts to leave the continent. Right now, you'd be best to just stay home. You're completely paranoid. No matter what people say on here, you've already said you're freaked out by traveling across the border and need to "get the hell out" of everywhere you said you were going. Learn some Spanish. Learn some martial arts or self defense. People on here have given you lots of suggestions and you keep returning to "violent crimes is my concern" That stuff happens everywhere and sometimes it's completely unavoidable. If it's your time, then it's your time. Why are you even considering a trip when you are scared of where you want to go? I have never read anything so ridiculous. There is nothing anyone can say that will calm your fears. Some people just shouldn't travel the world and you dear child, are one of those people.
Seriously take a Valium and STAY HOME!
Mar 11, 2012 12:08 AM
64I really can't understand why someone who genuinely feels like the OP wants to go to on vacation to Guatemala...
There are plenty of other places that have lower crime stats/fewer warnings.(Whether that translates into reality is another thing of course).
Why not visit one of those instead?
Mar 11, 2012 12:33 AM
65"You never know what could happen in those sleepy towns or in the farm communities. Cows can be viscous."
Nothing I hate worse than meeting up with viscous cows in Montana..... All things considered, I much prefer the low-viscosity varieties.
Mar 11, 2012 7:23 AM
66She should travel Montana in only the warm season. Cows less viscous then.
Mar 11, 2012 7:42 AM
Mar 11, 2012 7:52 AM
Mar 11, 2012 7:59 AM
69There are bears in Montana, and wolves, so be careful there too.
Mar 11, 2012 8:06 AM
70I'll think about it some more. I also wondered why I am not seeing this, in the same way, as many of you.
Maybe a better thing for me to determine for myself, is: how do one adapt the street smarts, the positive attitude, and the knowledge, that everyone else seems to have, in order to enhance my own perception of safety, and my actual safety.
For example, other than guide books, American Embassy web pages, and chatting to locals, *how did you all know which areas to go, and which places to avoid because they were less safe*?
How did you all learn the 'rules' as one traveler had pointed out?
I would assume the difference might have something to do with experience.
Canadian Woman, have you ever done any solo travel? My suggestion is to start somewhere 'easier' to learn the ropes. Thailand is a very good choice with potentially lots of border crossings for practical experience. It is generally safe to walk alone at night and most anywhere on your own. That's how you learn 'the 'rules'. Yes, experience is what will make the difference for you.
Though I might look at the embassy website early in the prep process, I pretty much discount everything they say. I've always done that because I think their warnings excessive. The reasons why that really is so have been very well explained here.
I really believe that countries who have been continually taken advantage of by their governments, (including the American government who has not exactly helped the war on drugs situations), have lived in poverty and have overcome political and economic hardships are people who have a resiliency of spirit and community that is unmatched my Western standards.
Southeast Asia will satisfy this focus just as well as Central America. Cross over into Cambodia. Explore the Thai border with Burma/Myanmar. Better yet, get your Myanmar visa in Bangkok and go there for 28 days.
Save solo travel in Guatemala for the next trip, when you can answer all the above questions from your own experience.
Mar 11, 2012 8:34 AM
Mar 11, 2012 3:49 PM
72CanadianWoman, I'm not sure I have even 2 centavos worth adding after all that but I'm replying anyways because I was in a pretty similar situation a few months ago - nervous about the embassy reports and the news, but still wanting to go. And now I'm in Guatemala. There have been a few moments that felt sketchy, but they've all been caused by our continual underestimation of how craptastic these roads can be, which ended up with us driving after dark. As a disclaimer, I'm not traveling alone, but my husband and I go our separate ways fairly often so I've spent a fair bit of time on my own.
The things that I've found the most relevant/helpful are as follows:
That 'rape is uncommon' thing appears to be true. I've heard several first- and second-hand robbery stories, but not a single tale of sexual assault. Also, are you tall? Guatemalan men are not. If you're imagining a scary encounter with a would-be rapist, imagine him about five feet tall. Less scary, right?
I was just in Xela, and I think you'll feel absolutely fine walking around during the day, based on the solid scientific evidence that I can be a total wimp sometimes and I felt OK walking there alone.
You'll meet people at your language school who have also been traveling, and hearing stories face-to-face from other Central American travelers about their journey can be heartening. And educational! Also, if you go to a fairly big school I bet you'll meet other students to walk around with at night.
Expect to be disoriented and nervous your first day or so. Maybe you won't be, I guess most travelers aren't, but if you are - it will almost certainly get better as you get over the culture shock and realize how many locals will make eye contact and genuinely return your smile.
A few specifics, which you may have already found: Don't carry important things in a slice-able backpack. Don't walk alone on the trails around Lake Atitlan or in the mountains above Antigua. Eat many many brownies at Buddha Bar in San Pedro.
Finally, what has given me the most zen is just coming to terms with the possibility of being robbed. I carry a canceled credit card and very little cash, and if I have to carry my driver's license or passport it goes under my clothes. If somebody points a machete at me, they're welcome to what little I've got. It's pretty much unanimous that if you hand over your valuables immediately nothing violent will happen. (This is not quite as effective when carrying my beloved camera, but I've kinda solved that by bringing a small crappy camera when I'm going to a place where I might want a photo but am unsure about the safety.)
Good luck, and I hope you enjoy your trip! It sounds like you're not going to listen to the people who tell you to just stay home or go to Hawaii if you're feeling unsure, and I think that's great. I can't tell you that you'll FEEL safe every minute - I must admit I haven't - but I think, according to the statistics, you'll probably BE safe. Speaking as a happy non-statistic. Besides, we're supposed to do one thing every day that scares us, right?
Mar 11, 2012 5:45 PM
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