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TRAVEL Hints and Tips Post your TIPS to travellers - all the interesting little tidbits you learned on the road about packing, where to get stuff, and how to cope with problems. Please make sure the subject describes the tip clearly!
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Old 4 Nov 2007
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Location: Des Moines
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Getting robbed in Central America.

Hey guys, I wanted to share my view point about how dangerous robbery is here in Central America. I think that as long as you take the proper precautions you can have maybe a 95% chance of not being robbed.

My advice (I have been cheapskating it down here)
1. Sleep at gas stations that have an armed guard and tip him off a $1 US or better yet, buy him s.

2. When you stop on the road to fix something with your bike, leave your helmet on even if it is 95 degrees.

3. Make sure that you are not coming across as the tourist who just got off the plane. Do not wear brand new riding suits, helmets, jewlery, etc. Keep your bike dirty and if you can live with it keep yourself dirty.

4. Do not drive at night and do not walk streets at night without a local who knows them. (I have broken the do not drive at night rule many times and let me tell you that every time I break it I have a near death experience.) There are a lot of show off drivers who come out at night and they will pass cars around blind corners. Also there will be debris and pot holes that you just cant see and can easily take you out. The worst danger is all of the jackasses who drive without lights down here. I can not explain what it feels like to not see a semi until you are 25 ft away traveling 60 mph and the semi is doing 40.

5. If something doesn´t feel right, get the heck out of there. If you start seeing extremely poor people who are calling out at you to stop and following your bike hit the gas. Also if someone is trying to sell you something like a ferry ride, but you get a bad feeling about them back out of the deal.
http://www.journeyrider.net Latin America blog (07-8)
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Old 5 Nov 2007
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Very good advise for all, I'd like to add

That isn't her brother telling her to chat you up, you are not a very handsom man not matter what she says.

Keep an extra Credit card in you boot under the soft sole, in case they take most of your kit as no-one will want your very stinky boots.

Keep your wallet on a chain, that way if they try to take it you WILL know.

And lastly the MOST important one, your life is worth MORE then anything you have in you possession at any time, so hand it ALL over without a fight.
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Old 8 Nov 2007
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thats the BEST ADVICE ive heard in a while..

YEP, you can always get another bike/watch/wallet full of cash/ radio whatever....... but if your DEAD..... your kinda screwed.
good advice mate, hand it over, live another day. and remember, these guys usually work in gangs...... just cos he is only 14 yrs old doesnt mean he isnt a threat. can you Really take on him AND his 6 mates?

the old 2 wallet trick is a good one....... carry a wallet with about 50 quid of local currency in it ( enough for them to think they are getting a good "hit") put in an old credit card and some photos and stuff so it looks 'real'............ trust me, they arent gonna look see if the credit card is in date or not...... also wear a cheap digital watch, hand that over too, keeps em happy.
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Old 8 Nov 2007
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On gas stations or border crossings be aware of people who want to be your guide ( no problem ) but if you leave your bike alone to go into some office have someone watch it.

On gas stations take your time counting the money and be aware of scam tricky tricks.

In El Salvador watch out for gang related activity.

In all countries you will encounter more or less frequent road blocks by either military, PGR, federales, criminal police, justice police, drug police, tourist police, traffic police, city police, state police or some other branch of police. Smile, be polite. Do not bribe if you can avoid it. Do not show a lot of cash, have it in smaller amounts in different locations if you need more go from one location to the next.

The official title for any official is senor or oficial, not amigo or guate or vato or hombre or any other word. Take your sunglasses off when you look them into the eye.

www.andreaswmatthes.com living in Playa del Carmen, Q.Roo, Mexico
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Old 8 Nov 2007
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Originally Posted by mattmexico View Post
Take your sunglasses off when you look them into the eye.

The Producers etc of the Long Way Down should take note of that advice!!

BTW, it applies anywhere in the world in my opinion.
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Old 8 Nov 2007
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Yeah all that 'in africa when things go wrong they go wrong quickly' kiss my hairy you know what. They are just bigging up the danger level.

Apart from a Taxi driver way back in VIETNAM who tried to job me at knife point, I did Ninja his arm until it went all soft and mushy but only because I know how to do that kind of thing.
I've only met good people on my trips. And that includes the great guy that stopped to help me when I crashed the bike in Thailand driving me and all my kit to hospital in his flat bed truck.

And the Police who arranged for me my kit and the bike to go to Phuket instead of sitting at a hospital in the middle of nowhere, and they didn't charge me too much for that, well wouldn't you rather have your leg in plaster in Phuket?

Travel with a smile and be friendly, and MOST people will take you to their hearts.
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Old 14 Nov 2007
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Smile Bikers in Costa Rica

I think that the advice of Gatogato and others, can be apply to almost any country of the world. I live in Costa Rica and have travel in bike to Nicaragua and Panamá. My experience is than in all cities they are places in which you have to had care. In the rural roads, I never had a problem in the day or in the night, neither in Costa Rica, Nicaragua or Panamá. You have to be very carefully in the big cities.

If any one visit Costa Rica, can contact me and y can help and advise about the robbery.
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