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We were robbed. It may have happened just over a year ago, but we still live with the effects (like a fear that comes while biking and we hear a moped motor approaching). Read the full story, but also take away whatever knowledge you can from our horrible experience in order to prevent it happening to you while away from home.
Only a few days ago, Lifehacker posted a brilliant list of tips for travelers toting nice cameras, including how to deter would-be thieves. In this vein, we're revisiting our own 8 safety tips to avoid being mugged abroad:
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Only a few days ago, while bicycling around Argentina's wine country, we were robbed [read the full story here]. The banditos only got away with our Nikon DSLR camera, and it could have been much worse, but regardless we've come away with a slew of lessons learned the hard way.
While the "what ifs" stream through our mind, here's eight tips to avoid being a victim:
· Keep moving. Even if you're lost, try to keep moving and look alert (maybe go around the same block) or head towards a busier area to ask at a major business for help with directions.
· Always read about crime and safety considerations when you travel to an unfamiliar city. In this case, we had actually read about the snatchings on WikiTravel, so we knew immediately what was happening as soon as the man surprised us by putting his hands on the camera in our bike basket. Alas, it was because of this warning that we had wound the straps around the handlebars, which prevented him from taking off with our backpack as well.
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Policia truck in which we rode
Me robaron. Me robaron. ME ROBARON. I was robbed.
I've gotten very good at saying this in Spanish in the last 20 hours, as yesterday around 3pm local time in the wine tourism town of Maipú, Argentina, a man reached into the basket of the bicycle I was riding, and stole my Nikon DSLR camera. That's the simple way of explaining what went down; the full explanation is far more harrowing, and you can guarantee that I've spent every waking moment since then replaying the events in my mind, wondering how a nice day of biking to vineyards turned into an ordeal involving 17 bulletproof vest-wearing members of the local Policia.
Here we go.
The weather is still dry here in New York City, even though weathermen promised that the wrath of Hurricane Earl would be felt in high winds and heavy rain by now. Earl, however, seems a bit late to our Labor Day long weekend and we hope he doesn't come to the picnic at all.
According to the Weather Channel, the hurricane has decreased to a Category 2-level storm, but that doesn't mean that it'll end up being just a nice summer rainstorm by the time it hits Cape Cod Saturday. Luckily for everyone, Earl has kept far enough off the coast to only generate wind, rain and waves and none of the scary stuff that makes you fear your house could fall around you. Peak winds are 105 mph, but that's offshore.
The estimated hurricane path for the weekend has a fraction of that wind speed hitting the east coast above Long Island, until the bulk of the beast enters right into Canada's Bay of Fundy, between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, bringing only 65 mph winds with it at that point. Earl has already done his damage to North Carolina and the Outer Banks, causing storm surge waves to wreck piers and flood roads.
If you were planning a trip to Northern Ireland, the U.S. government believes you should think twice and perhaps even cancel your plans. The good news is you can still go there to party on St. Patrick's Day in 2011..
The region has a history of violence, but a spree of bombings over the last month prompted the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs in Ireland to issue a warning to tourists. The warning is for April through August, when many parades are held, so those St. Pat's plans are still a go. The official statement tells travelers to remain alert in their surroundings as violence can break out at potential flash points. It went on to say that peaceful demonstrations could turn aggressive and possibly escalate into violence.
In advance of the prime spring break season, Uncle Sam issued a small new travel warning recently. The US Department of State has added to a security alert from last summer, and the new safety suggestions run through this August. The government maintains that loads of people enjoy Mexico each year, but they’re asking visitors to practice common sense during their visit. That means no hanging out in areas known for drugs, prostitution, or bad guys.
Not that these are traditional wet T-shirt hot spots, but parts of Michoacán, Durango, Coahuila, and Chihuahua are some areas that might want to be avoided at this time. Especially since there have been cases of US citizens being abducted and murdered. It’s important to stick to the touristy areas when possible if you're unfamiliar with the country and especially the language, and make the most of exploring during daylight hours. That means no flashlight tag, no matter how much it reminds you of elementary school.
You know the cruising season has begun when the hurricanes and tropical storms lay into the Caribbean; it's just a hazard of the peak season. Still, this week we've been watching the progress of Hurricane Ida, which began way down in Central America and worked its way due north, eroding beaches in Cozumel and Grand Cayman before just not being downgraded back to Tropical Storm in advance of landfall in Mississippi.
Most affected by the storm were two inaugural sailings of Carnival ships, the Fantasy and Triumph from new home ports of Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans, respectively. According to CruiseCritic, each voyage is now delayed by a day, turning a 6-nighter into 5 and Triumph's 4-nighter into 3 with no port calls; it's now a "cruise to nowhere."
If there is something we know about traveling during the late summer thru early fall, it's to buy trip insurance. We're sure some cruisers and Baja vacationers will be finding out the importance of such policies as Hurricane Rick hits Baja Mexico and diverts ships away from holiday ports in order to avoid the 100 mph winds.
Although Rick has already crested in strength and now it peters down to a category 3 hurricane, let us remember that having a category anything storm crash your beach holiday is never positive. Judging the infographic above, Rick is zeroing in on Mexico like a frat boy with fantasies of cheap Patron. With the storm due off the coast from late today through early tomorrow, cruise ships are skipping visits to Mazatlan and possibly even Cabo San Lucas, adding insult to injury for the city that counts on these near-daily cruise ship calls.
There’s only a few months left until the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament hits the field. Starting in January, soccer fans from around the globe will travel to Angola to check out some heated competition, while patiently awaiting the arrival of the World Cup tournament. However, British fans of the football are being warned by their government to be extra cautious regarding their travel plans.
Crime levels in the capital city of Luanda are high according to the British Foreign Office, and they are encouraging fans to attend only if they are traveling with someone familiar with the local conditions. Angola only ended a long civil war in 2002, so things over there are still a little touchy. It might be a good idea for the British fans to keep their hooligan antics to a minimum, or at least save them for the games of the World Cup in South Africa.
We hope not too many Jaunted readers were traveling through the Philippines over the weekend because it hasn't been pretty: a tropical storm hit the north of the country and caused the worst flooding Manila has seen for more than 50 years.
Almost half a million people have been displaced by the floods and sadly, at least 86 have been confirmed dead, with the final death toll expected to be a lot higher.
What this means for travelers: right now is clearly not a fantastic time to be landing in the northern Philippines. Apart from the fact that the locals are busy with more important things than entertaining tourists, with such widespread flooding there's also the danger of disease outbreaks. Postpone your trip if you can. When you do get there, remember we've also warned you to be wary of ferries, okay?
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Exiled President Manuel Zelaya played at a return to Honduras on Sunday, borrowing a plane from Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and attempting to fly back into Toncontin International Airport in the capital, Tegucigalpa. But as clashes broke out between Zelaya supporters and police, soldiers blocked the runway and the ousted leader decided not to risk a crash landingperhaps he was aware that even without the demonstrators, TGU is already one of the world's most dangerous airports.
We bet that there a more than a few of you out there clutching tickets to Honduras, while shaking in your boots over the current military coup situation and wondering whether or not to cancel your vacation. This is why god invented trip insurance, and we recommend that if you have it, now would be the time to cash in on it.
We know that the Honduran Bay Islands are famous for scuba diving with whale sharks, but there's a friggin' military coup playing out back in the capital Tegucigalpa, and we paid enough attention back in junior high history class to know that it means potentially violent demonstrations, soldiers with guns in the streets, and a generally confused and upset populace. These elements, unlike malibu rum and pina colada mix, do not combine to form a perfectly relaxing vacation away.