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Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road Recent News, political or military events, which may affect trip plans or routes. Personal and vehicle security, tips and questions.
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  #1  
Old 8 Feb 2005
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Warning about Guatamala

I was in Lake Atalin, Guatamala, on a road between the villages of San Tiago and San Padro La Laguna yesterday and two armed bandits jumped in front of my motorcycle and forced me to stop on an isolated part of the road. I was informed that it was my money or my life, and they robbed me. They were wearing green military type clothing with black ski masks. One had what appeared to be a silver government issue shot gun with a short handle and the other had a black 9mm handgun, which was pointed inches away from my face. After the incident, I tried to report it to the police in San Pedro, but they didn´t seem too interested, and told me to come back tomorrow. In my opinion, travel around Lake Atalin, other than to the main city there, Panachel, in not safe. I consider myself lucky to have escaped with my life.
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  #2  
Old 9 Feb 2005
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Glad to hear you came out of it OK. That's really a shame, Guatemala is a beautiful country. I spent some time there just over a year ago. Better luck on the rest of your trip.

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  #3  
Old 9 Feb 2005
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JK...sorry to hear about your misfortune, glad your okay. When your up for it, maybe you could tell us about it in more detail so we might learn something about protecting ourselves. I've made it a habit to carry a dummy wallet in my jacket with a couple expired credit cards and some cash, but i've never had to use it. I was wordering if you, having experienced this, feel if this may be a good tactic.
I hope your able to continue your travels. Good luck!
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  #4  
Old 9 Feb 2005
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The tactic sounds quite good. Although they're usually not interested in the credit cards.

In South Africa I was wold to always carry a bit of cash in addition to my credit card, so as not to "frustrate" the robber. Fortunately I was never pestered yet...

Good luck, JK!
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  #5  
Old 9 Feb 2005
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"Muggers wallet" we call it.

Also use it as your "daily" wallet with todays cash in it, but only expired credit cards. Use it during the day, replenishing cash at night out of sight. Pickpockets in crowded markets see you using the muggers wallet, that's the one they try to pick - no problem, let them have it.

As noted earlier, you don't want to "disappoint" a mugger, so have a reasonable amount of cash in there - they might not believe $5.00 is all you have, so will start looking for more, which you want to avoid. I keep US$75-100 in mine, or enough for the day if I expect to need a little more. It's not a lot to lose versus what could happen.

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  #6  
Old 9 Feb 2005
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James, glad you're okay. Were you in that area before it happened. Do you think they targeted you. When you have time you should post more details.

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  #7  
Old 10 Feb 2005
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Hi James,

Drove he same road today... and ended up at the Campana campsite. Is the red bike yours? Then I,ll see you tonight.

Someone wrote that muggers are not interested in creditcards... Wel, forget about that... They are!

I was robbed a few weeks ago in Nicaragua. I was sitting in front of my hotelroom when someone (I know his name and pasportnumber but that does not help in anyway) took my money and credit-cards (two of them) and left the bank-card where it was.

A nasty problem since in Guatemala only creditcards work in ATM,s... I had to sit tight for two weeks to wait for DHL (days and weeks are the same for DHL)

So have no ilusions that thiefs don,t want your credit-cards... hey do!

Maarten

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Old 10 Feb 2005
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!?!...Geez, bad luck you guys! Hey Mmaarten, were you robbed by a traveller or by a local?
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  #9  
Old 11 Feb 2005
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I passed through that very same section of road on my way to San Pedro de Laguna last year around April. I had no problems whatsoever, but on my last day one of the people who had been staying at the hostel got mugged on that very same section. He was on foot and in broad daylight, two men jumped out of the bushes with macheties and a section of steel chain. He didn`t stick around to converse, but as soon as he heard the word dinero, he tossed a dummy wallet with a small amount of cash in it on the road and bolted in the opposite direction. He was OK, but a bit unnerved about the whole thing being that he was an experienced world traveller and had been in alot worse places with nothing ever happening. I guess the thing to remember is that nothing can protect you from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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  #10  
Old 11 Feb 2005
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Thanks for the well wishes guys. I share the sentiment that it is a wonderful place, an awesome road and it is such a shame that a few low lifes have to ruin it for everybody else. As for my case, it was about 1pm in broad daylight. I have been traveling with a Frenchman, Phillipe, who was 100 feet in front of me. He has a French flag displayed on the front of the bike. They were waiting for us, (or whoever), because we rounded a corner, climbed a steep hill and they ran out fron behind some bushes. They were completely coveed in military green clothing and were wearing black ski masks and floppy camalfauge (sp?) hats. By the time we saw them, they were standing directly in front of Phillipe with guns pointed directly at us. At first I thought they were Zapitista because of the military clothing, and was actually relieved when I heard all they were interested in was my money. I did indeed have a dummy wallet, and the loss was minimal in terms of cash. Philipe lost more than I did, plus they got hi very nice digital camera. One started to go through my pockets, and all I could do was hold my hands up. He gave up pretty quickly as they were in a bit of a hurry. Suggestions? talk to locals. I was told that road is dangerous after the face, so I wish I had done more investigation before I went on it.
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  #11  
Old 13 Feb 2005
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Hi Mr. Ron,

I was robbed by an other traveler. We were sharing a dormitory and while I was sitting in front of the room, he went trough my stuff. Then took off for dinner and never returned.
It,s always nice to meet fellow travelers

Greetings
Maarten

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  #12  
Old 15 Feb 2005
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Maarten,

Maybe you could give us his name and No., and should we meet up with him elsewhere in Latin America, well...

Suerte - Mick

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  #13  
Old 17 Feb 2005
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Sounds like Guatemala is getting as dangerous as Los Angeles.
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  #14  
Old 19 Feb 2005
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"I was told that road is dangerous after the face, so I wish I had done more investigation before I went on it."

Don't you hear that about every place in the world? It's fine here, but that next town/country/10 minute ride is dangerous.

I'm glad you're both okay. I've been okay the times I've had guns pointed at me, but afterwards, when I'm safe, I panic.

--Dave

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  #15  
Old 20 Feb 2005
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Yes, I guess you are correct. But the most important thing now is that I am continuing on my trip and putting it behind me. I refuse to be scared to ride down the road. I don't know, I think there may be a certian ammount of "luck of the draw" involved, and it was just my day. I mean really, I had to pay my 1st bribe to a cop today after 3 months on the road - that is good luck! ha!
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