I got mugged in Puerto Viejo and all i got was a lousy travel story, some free drinks and a lot of concerned hugs back at rocking j's.
i dont hold a grudge though, they were nice armed men with a gun and machette who let me keep my wallet.
thanks guys! has a picture of the ex-girlfriend my heart didnt want to lose.
In CR Petty theft is rampant on some popular bus routes and beaches in CR, many travelers feel as they are in a crime free paradise and leave belonings unattended...that is a no no in CR.
In the capital city of San José the bus terminals/markets as in all Latin American cities can be dangerous if one is not aware and takes precautions, as in all large Latin American cities SJ has marginal neighborhoods with crime, poor people are not thieves, however thieves hide out in poor neighborhoods, there are over 250,000 Nicaraguan and South American workers legally and illegally in CR and Downtown-Central SJ is fairly dangerous walking after dark, small towns and countryside in CR very peaceful, if you stay in budget digs or hostels always guard your valuables, those with digital cameras and laptops should stay in more upscale lodgings, town or beach, with a hotel or room safe.
Taxis in SJ are fairly cheap, with meters, to avoid being overcharged tell the driver to put on the meter by saying.....'ponga la maria'
Crime is way up in CR. I suggest Panama, much safer.
I live in San Jose, and I have never got anything stolen or experienced anything bad.. I just hear stories from other people especially locals who tell me not to walk around in certain places. But I don't like to walk around in the downtown of SJ. Too many people. Outside of the downtown, and in the rest of the country I feel safe, even when I travel alone as a girl.
Edit: once in Puerto Viejo I manage to loose my vallet.. A local was searching for the owner of it, and I got it back. Nothing was taken
[ Edit: Edited on Jul 28, 2007, at 10:59 AM by machita ]
Costa Rica is probably one of the safest places in Latin America. That doesn't mean that crime doesn't exist. Always take normal precautions to avoid getting robbed or into violence.
In Colombia the crime rate has come down 95 %, so the place it much safer. But that is of course coming down from an extremly high level. The situation differs drastically from the different region in the country, much depending if the gerilla or the para-military groups are active in tha area.
I have lived in Latin America for many years, by and large, in any and every Latin American country the most dangerous places for travelers are
1. International and National Bus Terminals and the areas around them, especially after dark, if you have not a place to stay nor the address of a hostal/hotel with you, it is not adviseable walking around these areas after dark seeking accomidation. Upon arrival, after a long trip, the traveler is tired, dirty, hungry and vulnerable. Always be aware and never take unauthorized taxis.
In Costa Rica, even by day, intercity bus terminals such as the "Coca Cola" in San Jose are full of professional bag snatchers, so those who leave their luggage, even for a minute or two, to purchase snacks or go to bathroom may find their bags gone, same on teh second class buses and same in some of the cheaper hostals if naive enough to leave all your valuables inside and invite strangers to your room, etc. Always try to stay at a lodging place where you have locker or they have lock box/safe. Never carry passports, credit cards and a lot of cash to the beach
2. In cities and large towns..Paradas..city bus stops..especially morning, evening and midday (lunch time) rush hours, and especially carrying backpacks, luggages, fanny packs, many Latin American cities have pro pickpockets working in pairs and working the buses. Once settled in your lodging place, leave backpacks, luggages, passports and valuables, excess cash in safe place and take city transport, enjoy the "chicken" buses, meet the people tranquilo.
Once in a while in cities and towns it may be necesary to take an authorized taxi, especially after dark when there is little or no public transportation available.
3. In very large cities, Mexico and South America, the "Metro" (Underground) is fast and convenient, but again remember, guard your cash, pickpockets.
In the country where I reside locals often carry wallets and cellular phones in back pocket, most crime abroad is not theif against traveller, it's native on native..however travellers, especially young backpackers "in uniform" especially those who are unable to speak Spanish well stick out..also avoid overly friendly young men you meet on the street who wish to take you to a hotel and guide you around. If you are introduced that is different. Remember in Andean South America and Central America a US, Canadian or EU passport fetches a lot on black market, here in country I reside in there are many Coyotes (People Smugglers) exploiting locals going up north illegally.
4. The crowded outdoor markets..some are native markets, others cater to "tourists" in travel destinations, all, need I say more are infested with pickpockets.
All this is common sense and experience...one country well may be "safer" than another in general, but your own personal security depends on you, not on your opinion. If you become lost in a large city, go into a store and ask manager or employees directions..never draw attention to yourself on crowded streets.
Yesterday I was in the Supermarket with an English speaking native friend of mine, an inebriated young man came up to us begging for money in broken English, security removed him, yes EVEN in Costa Rica are the guards with shotguns and some areas of San Jose the capital can be downright dangerous (over 100,000 illegal guest workers in C.R. many live in these rough barrios)
My passport was stolen ONCE, 22 years ago, on the Guatemala/Mexico border, my error, I put the passport in pants pocket after customs insteading of securing it, a "fight" broke out on the crowded bus, mayhem, I arrived the next town no passport..a learning experience.. I was in a "hurry"!
5. In some "hostels" and travel destinations beware of whom you "team up" with, there are many cases of travelers being befriended and then robbed by other travelers ('con artists') who may be broke and needing funds to continue on, to long term travellers, you'll encounter the odd sociopath(s) on the road, try to befriend locals and resident ex pats and get their advice.
The lower your budget, the more creative you need be.
Prices of food, fuel, clothing, transportation lodging in Latin America rising as we speak. Not so "cheap" anymore. Met some travellers here recently with a 6 year old guide book, no more $5.00 rooms down at the beaches, left them screaming at each other..bon voyage!
Poor people are not theives, however thieves hide out in poor neighborhoods.
A theif does not care your race, religion or lack of it, politics, philosophy, where you come from or where you are going..a theif needs and wants your money.....I'm from New York City, USA, some of the toughest criminals on the planet once told me this...
Do your research on line, purchase your guidebooks well in advance your journey and read them through and join one of the several "hospitality" all non profit associations on line, one is very active now in this small country where I live, wher locals are able to "host" you in their homes a day, two or more, or simply just guide you around their area in their free time..saves a lot of hassles..start learning to speak Spanish/Portuguese at home, learn the basics before departure!
Be always aware, never paranoid.
Central America (nor Costa Rica) is not "Disneyland"
I wonder why CK dug up this age old thread?!