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Thread: Safety in Costa Rica

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Dec 2013
    San SebastiŠn, San Josť, Costa Rica

    Safety in Costa Rica

    This article was published last week:

    And here's an older article with more detail...

    It reminds me of the standard advice that I give to all travelers... Don't take anything regarding safety for granted. Laws and practices in countries other than your own country are often substantially different than what you are used to.

    If you don't want to read the articles in their entirety, here are the "Cliff's Notes." In 2009 -- 7 years ago -- a 28-year-old male from the USA visited Costa Rica alone, went hiking in one of Costa Rica's national parks, and was never seen again. The guy's name is David, and it was his first visit to Costa Rica, on a "Hastily Arranged" trip, according to one of the articles.

    David's parents are still looking for him, and they believe that he is still alive, and is still in Costa Rica. They may be right. You never know. There have been some stories... Some say he went mad and has shown up 2 or 3 times, looking and acting like a "wild man", sort of a Mowgli-type "Jungle Book" character. Others say he may have been kidnapped or ran afoul of drug runners. All of those theories are possible... But here is my theory, which is far more likely to be true...

    David is dead. I am sorry that he is probably dead. I wish death upon no one. However, I've met this brand of traveler hundreds of times during my career. They visit foreign countries for the first time, having done little research on that country, and then go hiking, mountain climbing, or scuba diving alone. David was apparently quite intelligent, and was preparing to earn a Doctorate degree at a University in the USA. Such travelers often have a misplaced sense of faith in their own intelligence... but it doesn't matter how smart you are. Intelligence is no substitute for experience.

    Travelers like David are an example for others. Going into a wilderness area, alone, in a country that you are visiting for the very first time, with little or no research, on a hastily arranged trip, is just "Asking For It." But I do meet travelers like this quite often. Travelers like David are like gamblers playing Craps... They have rolled the dice hundreds of times, and have never rolled "Snake Eyes." Then... one day... they roll snake eyes... and it's a huge surprise to them, their families, and apparently, almost everyone else.

    If you are in the habit of traveling like David, chances are that you'll make many trips without incident and have a wonderful time, which bolsters your unfounded confidence in your "travel planning skills." But... eventually... one day... you'll go on a trip... and you'll be fucking dead, because you are fucking stupid... just like David. You've been asking for it the whole time, and your number finally came up.

    Personally, I don't mind taking personal risks when the benefits outweigh the risks, and I have taken all of the precautions that I can practically take. What I DO NOT do is take unnecessary risks. Why drive or ride without your seat-belt on, when the seat-belt is right there? Why go fishing offshore in rough seas and storms, when the weather tomorrow is supposed to be nearly perfect, with calm seas?

    Traveling solo is a necessity for some people. I travel alone quite a bit, myself. However, I wouldn't go hiking in a strange area alone. I'd hire a guide or get hooked up with at least 2 or 3 other travelers at my hotel. What's so hard about that, when the alternative is just incredibly stupid? I feel sorry for David and his parents, and I sincerely hope that one of these strange stories that he is still alive is true. However, I also know, from decades of experience, that that is not very likely.

    Be safe, guys. It's not that difficult to avoid dying like a dumb-ass when you're on vacation.
    Last edited by Speedy1; 08-16-2016 at 03:52 PM.

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