I must admit that violence 10 times worse than that in Ghana kind of detracts from the $500 / month paradise described in your last post. Enjoy your change of pace, Andy.
Sure you know how to defend yourself, Be aware walking back and forth, especially late night, as you well know everyone and his Grandmother in Latin America now has a cellphone, no doubt you as a perpetual traveler will soon get bored hanging around the "American" watering holes for too long, for me, Antigua and Lake Atitlan were great, but except for two long term expat resident WORKING women, all of my good friends were native Guatemalans. Your Real Estate idea is very good if promoted properly, I have personally rescued a few persons in Central America from the Real Estate 'cons', who are mostly "Americans" (US Citizens) and Canadians, as my Polish-German Jewish Uncle who died working in Guatemala told me in 1971, "The gringo was brought up to sell", be careful, just because someone is a paisano and speaks the same language, cannot be trusted until they prove themselves, I know several nice couples who finally landed in Guatemala who got shafted in Costa Rica on gringo owned and operated websites that promised paradise, you know the rest. frankly many newbie or wanabe ex pats or semi ex pats are neither backpackers nor able to live, at least initially on $500 month, as well you were honest about the security situation in DR, when I visit friends of mine in Costa Rica, all doors must be locked at all times when the room is not occu[ied, even walking 3 meters or 11 feet to the kitchen area and back, and the websites advertise CR outside of San Jose proper as a totally crime free paradise, my CR friends also have a well trained Doberman on the premises, I am integrated in local Latino society socially here in El Salvador, so here is there is no 'us' and 'them' There are quite a few US, Canadian and European ex pats and semi ex pats here, however they seem to mix in well, in Antigua Guatemala I met 3 young ladies from CS, the clientele of the bar was all Anglo, mostly know it all Super Gringos on Tourist Stamps who were hitting on the girls, I just wanted to get out of there, all the employees were Guatemalan of course, the French woman had worked 2 years in Guatemala City and was very nice, cannot stand whiners who are 'afraid' to travel to large cities. At any rate I have encountered every type of scam artist, sociopath and psychopath in my nearly 25 years as a US Citizen (I do not use the term "American") ex pat in Mexico city then Guatemala, El Salvador and a bit in Honduras and Nicaragua, as well as the really good people, working ex pats who speak teh language, have a sense of humor, keep a low profile, do not beat their chests and call themselves 'experts', I am an ex spert myself, ex is a has been and spert is a short piss. Learn something new every day down this way, Fijese!!!,
I would be more than happy to send you clients or represent you since I have followed you for years and do know you are honest, the bottom line, I personally in the late 1990s saved the financial community of El Salvador and Central America 20 Million Dollars as an "American" on a tourist stamp, a lawyer who could not speak Spanish well was working with ENRON Corporation, before it fell and almost got a $20,000,000 unsecured loan from some naive persons here, nuff said. We have a Central american forum online nwhere members tell the trth, good, bad and ugly, and nothing but, all ex pats, except one known Nicaraguan scammer, we let him rant and rave, our forum is neither for the bleeding heart nor the faint of heart, I will send you the url by private message if you wish, good luck, buena suerte. PS Don't spend too much time in the gringo watering holes, the gossip gets staler than the spilled beer after 2 weeks, my old barrio in NYC is now Dominicano, I go now twice a year, new biz. Saludos y otra vez, buena suerte.
Helping a lady in Antigua, Guatemala now who bought property there 24 years ago, now worth over $1,000,000, her 'socios' are getting quite nasty and using unusual methods to have her evicted, life in the tropics, super fijese!!!!!!!!
The same in Costa Rica, DR, Guatemala, Honduras wherever there is poverty in Latin America, take these and other small simple precautions, make local friends, often in dangerous areas of Guatemala where I went as a Medic, locals would watch my back and we became close, I finally in the 1990s gave up on going to ex pat watering holes except on special occasions, just that I do not like gossip.
Submitted by LisaValencia on March 10, 2011
in Costa Rica
This is not a subject the travel agents or tour operators like to discuss, but I feel it is necessary. If you are traveling to a country where there is poverty, there is theft. This is not limited to any particular country, it can happen anywhere. Travelers who are informed and aware can make wiser choices.
I live on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Robberies have increased so we have formed citizens groups who work with the police and the public for prevention of crime and help for the victims. Private guards have been hired to patrol the beaches and the streets. Fortunately physical harm is rare, but often valued possessions left vulnerable are nabbed. There are things you can do to protect yourself:
RULES FOR DAY OUTING
1. DO NOT CARRY ANYTHING YOU DO NOT IMMEDIATELY NEED!
I cannot emphasize this enough. When you are on an outing, whether it be the beach or a bike ride:
a. Take only the money you may need to spend - no more.
b. Do not carry your passport. It is legal and wise to carry a copy which shows your entry stamp.
c. Do not carry a backpack or purse, it attracts criminals as they imagine what valuables you might have inside. Use clothes with pockets and take a pocket sized camera.
d. When you go to the beach, take no more than a towel, water bottle, sunscreen and a book. I use a crappy looking beach bag to carry it all.
Do your picture taking on a different occasion and return the camera to your hotel before you go to swim.
2. Avoid isolated areas at night. I never walk the beach alone at night but I am comfortable going anywhere on the beach in the day time - because I do not bring valuables.
3. Don’t leave anything of value in sight, in your unoccupied car. A rental car with a trunk is preferable.
4. Always lock doors, shutters, windows, do not leave anything vulnerable - even for a few minutes.
If you follow these simple rules when on an outing, you can forget about theft and just have fun.
If and when you travel to Guatemala do not use ATMs in either Antigua or Lake Atitlan, especially the ATM machine in San Pedro La Laguna, residents, locals and travelers alike have had severe problems recently as someone has hacked into the Banco Red or Network, best to bring USD, however if you are a visitor to Guatemala and have no Guatemalan Bank Account, with your passport you are only allowed to change $200 USD into Quetzales at approx 7.50 to 1 USD a month!!! some inane 'money laundering law' so if staying awhile bring USD, only crisp new bills accepted in banks, by the way, no dog eared or older bills and have a trusted Guatemalan friend change for you.
"Card Cloning" is now endemic in Guatemala