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  The Chatter Box : Travel
3 months in Bolivia and Argentine by msikic on 3 January 2004 11:38am
I'm marco from Rome, I'm organizing a long journey in Bolivia and Argentine which will start in february.
I would be so glad if someone could give me practical informations for a safer travel...I do not know anything about the dangers which I could meet.
besides I would be glad to read somethings of your journey experiences in these two countries....
p.s. sorry for my bad english
Re: 3 months in Bolivia and Argentine by Godfather on 3 January 2004 5:24pm
Hello Marco,

I have not been to Argentina, but i can highly reccomend Bolivia. You'll have a wonderful trip there indeed. Practical safety information?. Well, there is a standard approach to take in all Latin American countries really.


The first point is to watch your belongings like a hawk "at all times". The majority of incidents in Latin America, are just simply "diversion theft". One person diverting your attention while his or her partner takes your belongings. People have all kinds of methods to part you from your daysack or bags,and many are quite ingenious.


You have to develop a keen and sharp awareness of your surroundings at all times. It sounds scary but it's not really. You get used to this very quickly and it becomes second nature without becoming paranoia (luckily). It's also something that is very helpful in later travels.


When arriving at Bus stations at night, it's a good idea to get a taxi away to your gueshouse if it's quite a walk from your guesthouse. Night time is not a good time to be walking around with luggage in Latin America (certainly if alone). Bus station are prime territory for theft altogther. If you go and buy a ticket at the window, then lug your heavy backapack with you (no matter how silly i seems). If you leave it on a seat, and turn your back after 2 minutes, chances are it could be gone when you turn around again.


When in Bolivia (and Peru), it's nowadays the big buses. As they drive along, they are always dropping people off along the way and opening the hold underneath. It used to be very common for people to take Gringo's luggage with their own. You're on the bus, and none the wiser until you arrive the next morning. Some companies now give you a receipt for your lugagge (which is nearly always placed in the hold if large). But they usually make themselves exempt from any loss or theft of it anyway. The best method is to put your pack inside one of the local rice sacks (you can find them very easily and cheaply in the markets). This makes it less obvious that the shiny new pack of a Gringo is in the hold and full of expensive goodies to steal. This is a highly full proof method (just remember which rice sack is yours though..LOL)


It's also common sense not to "show" too much wealth. Wear cheap plastic watches,and not expensive looking ones. If you do wear expensive looking ones, they'll be ripped straight off your arm in a "Grab and Run" fashion (something very common around the Plazas in Lima, Peru). Also remove any jewelery like knecklaces and even rings. This is is essential.


Keep photocopies of your passport and other vital details apart,in case of loss at any time.


Money belts have become a joke, and are not fooling anybody anymore. The majority of people in Latin America (and infact the whole world) know that foreigners keep all their goodies in a money belt. This has occured, due to silly people getting their money out of them when in full public view. So if somebody decides to rob you, they'll go straight for that area in Latin America. A better security method is a tube bandage on your leg. You put this on, and put your essential things like passport and things in it. Latin America knows all about money belts now, and they're seen as a joke. The leg tube bandage is also known by some people now, but it's safer than using a money belt.

The other thing to avoid (although difficult) is to avoid getting drunk and trying to get back to your hotel alone at night..hehehe. In Cusco in Peru, a favourite is for robbers to watch drunk Gringos walking away from the Cross Keys Pub at 11pm and staggering home through quiet streets. And at altitude of course (La Paz in Bolivia for example) you get hit by the effects of alchol much harder due to altitude.


All this advice may make it "sound" like South America is a lion's den. In reality it's not. But these precautions mean that "they" will know you're not stupid and prime bait for robbery or sneak theft. Condensed in a list like this,it sounds much more risky than it actually is. It's just good to be forearmed about how to look after yourself and be incident free there.
Bolivia is actually very laid back and the people are very different there than in the rest of Latin America. As mentioned,i would say the most important thing to develop is that "Sharp peripheral awareness of your surroundings at all times", and realizing what is going on around you. Watching potentially dubious people. Watching if you're being followed in cities etc.
Re: 3 months in Bolivia and Argentine by msikic on 5 January 2004 11:17am
Thanks Godfather,
I am sur that these advices will be myself very useful for the journey.

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