Around the World With a Vagabond

Criminal Activity December 21, 2009

Filed under: Criminal Activity,Traveling South America — christynichols @ 4:52 am
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If the other blogs have been read, then it’s already known that Chris lost his murse to a pick-pocket.  And that Morgan’s knife and camera were knicked, but he managed to find his camera in the fishing boat.

Colombia has a reputation for drug dealers, kidnappings, and men with big guns. We were warned nearly every day to be careful, to watch our things, and watch each other.  Colombia seriously is no worse than some of the other crime-infested cities I have been to.  As long as you kept your head down, were careful, and didn’t make foolish decisions, you would be fine.  And mostly we were.

We heard many terrifying stories though, of muggings, hold-ups, and knife-threats.  All were scary. The scariest moment for me occurred on the bus ride from Popayan to the Ecuadorian border.

The road we took was reputed to have many hijackings, and we were warned to take a day bus.  We’d already been pulled over once by militia. They ordered us all out, searched a few people, and thoroughly searched through all of our belongings. Each one of the military men had those big guns slung across their chests.

After about five hours on the bus through the Andes, Meg suddenly shouted at us to hide our belongings.  A group of people had formed themselves into a human barricade.  They held hands and, shoulder to shoulder, lined up across the road, blocking our van.  Robbers do this, sometimes including children in their human barricade, in order to force a bus to stop. They then force their way into the bus, and rob everyone on board.

I think we were lucky to have the driver we did.  He hit the gas pedal, and in the last moments, the human barricade broke apart and the people scattered into the mountainside.  This still freaked me out. I shoved my passport down the backside of my jeans, and my camera and pesos down the front of my jeans.  I put my American wallet in my bra, and my jewelry in my pocket.  Chris put his passport in his underwear, then we both looked at his bulky $1000 camera. He wrapped it in a plastic shopping bag, and slid it under the seat.

We looked out the windshield only to see more barriers. This time the barriers were of rope, not people.  The rope was stretched tightly across the road, and then dropped as our small bus picked up speed. This happened at least two more times – groups of robbers trying to stop oncoming traffic. Had our driver slowed, we all would have been robbed.

Other than that, we had no problems whatsoever traveling through Colombia and Ecuador. As long as we took care, and had a little luck on our side.