Traveling alone in Latin America, a state of mind

Being a solo woman or a man in Latin America includes the same risks and I have heard stories from men and women. White slavery and rape are of course something else.

In my opinion, traveling alone in safety in Latin America is above all a state of mind, a matter of trust. Not to look like a tourist or a stranger is mission impossible and nobody makes a mistake. It’s only in Argentina or Brazil that I’m often taken for a local, but elsewhere, I’m far too white, too big, way too blond and my eyes are too blue. My hiking shoes and my North Face parka are also a sign, but I admit that it’s comfortable and I do not want to change that. On the other hand, it is better not to look like a rich tourist and to adopt the penniless tourist style, relaxed, even hippie. The colorful Patagonia outfit from top to bottom, the big Reflex camera around the neck, the Rolex on the wrist, the security pouch on the jeans (yes, yes not hidden), the Iphone in hand, wearing jewelry, the backpack … it’s not a good idea! Try to blend a minimum into the mass. In Colombia for example, people carry the backpack on the front. Do the same. In Argentina, girls do not often take handbags and put everything in their pockets. Do the same …

But more than just dress-up, it’s all about self-confidence! If you walk along the wall, head down, frightened, grabbing your handbag as if it were about life or death, you will probably get the attention and not the one you want. I always walk with my head up, with a smile on my face, in a relaxed way, seeming to know where I’m going (even if it’s not necessarily the case). If I have to look at my card, I land in a corner, I sit on a bench and I look at the map on my phone or at worst on a map. I still have not perfected the art of walking at the same time as the locals and that probably gives the impression that I think I’m in the streets of London, but I’ll never get there. I always asked in advance which areas to avoid and I know where to stop before going into the red zone. (We will not mention the faith, where I found myself near a favela in Buenos Aires at 22h, without knowing how to return home).

The risks of a trip to Latin America

South America and Latin America is a little higher level of the traveler, after Asia. The culture is closer, there are many travelers too, but there is a kind of feeling of permanent insecurity, floating and more or less strong depending on the place. We learn to tame this feeling of insecurity, to keep it in mind to stay on guard, but we also learn to continue to live and not stop doing something because there is any danger. This is how the inhabitants of dangerous cities live, and I find that quite reasonable. We know that there is a risk of a car accident, but that does not prevent us from driving? By cons, we know that there is bad luck, but there are also safety instructions to be applied not to force his bad luck.

In countries where the standard of living is very low, in countries where the permanent devaluation of the currency impoverishes the population, the theft of a telephone, a wallet, a camera or other can bring back a lot. There are other problems, such as FARC, organ theft, drugs, corruption … but these are more localized problems that do not always affect tourists.

Yes, we hear a lot of stories and they are all true, but it’s also like reading the news in newspapers in France: there are always specific cases, bad luck, but most of the time it nothing happens. I knew a Canadian who had stolen her big backpack at the hostel and her purse in the streets of Montevideo. I have heard stories of armed robbery in Argentina, Colombia and Central America. Pickpocketing, snatching flights, scams, rapes or attempted rapes. Yes, I heard all this from the mouths of victims, travelers encountered on the road. Deaths in bus accident too. Unfortunately, this is part of the risks of travel and the risks of life.

As of today, I did not do anything stolen, nor did I have to live in more serious situations and I had to get out of some average situations, but nothing more! I tell you all this in this article about insecurity, bad adventures and scams on the trip.but I assure you, it does not happen in Latin America and it is sometimes even in France. Yesterday, I left the metro in Santiago, in a chic neighborhood, with all my belongings. I was a little lost, tired and I consulted the plan on my phone. It was clear that I was lost and that I was a tourist and that probably explains why someone tried to steal my stuff. However, Santiago is a safer city than elsewhere … Basically, they tried a common scam, which is to swing any product on your big backpack (in my case a kind of black ink), to help you to wash it, while an accomplice steals your little bag filled with your valuable belongings. An old man came to say to me in English, “Excuse me miss, your bag is dirty, like a pigeon’s poop, can I help you clean it? “. I do not know what happened in my brain, I knew the scam, but had never been a victim and without thinking in Spanish, I replied “Thank you, but I do not care” and I continued my way feeling the sticky product running on my fleece, my legs and my leggings …

The road is also very problematic, but it’s valid around the world and there’s a time when you can not stop living and traveling. We can minimize the risk, but not more. Two travelers I had met a week before, died in transport accident, one in Laos, the other in Argentina. In Bolivia, the roads have very bad reputations and accidents are frequent: when it is possible or too dangerous, take the train or the plane, what is the point of taking risks unnecessarily. Be careful also to travel agencies when organizing excursions to isolated places. I am thinking of course of the excursion of Salar Uyuni and South Lipez, where there was a fatal accident two weeks after my passage. Choose your agency, putting the security before the price:I explain all this in detail in my dedicated article .

Discover London by food

I’ve always said that you can eat well in London , it’s not necessarily like the rest of the UK and you have to forget the clichés. Salty or sweet, the city’s trademark is obviously its international cuisine and yes, it even seems that Indian food is better and more authentic in London than in India. I will not say anything, I am not an expert. But then, what about the sweet for a French and his puck delicate and accustomed?

At Fortnum and Mason, we do not taste anything and savor with the eyes, but it makes you want to come back and try all these flavors. Then, stop at Ladurée in Burlington Arcade. Believe it or not, I had never tasted a Ladurée macaroon and had to go to London to do it. A height, a scandal! It was delicious and I picked up a few.

Direction then the Belgian chocolatier Godiva. Once again, it’s a first and it’s divine. I’m back again with pleasure and yes, I’ll come back!

The tour usually ends with an English tea, a perfect end to enjoy London. We are taken to a secret shop in Carnaby,  Choccywoccydoodah , where we discover a top secret and kitsch private room, decorated in a completely delirious and delicious way, with a view of Carnaby and passers-by in the rain. This is the time to taste everything: chocolates, brownies of all flavors, cakes, hot chocolates … and clearly overdose with sugar! But it was good, surprising and original and it would be the perfect place for a bachelor party or celebrate her 30th birthday !