Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Dangers in Chile – Coquimbo & Valparaiso

How dangerous is another country one would wonder sometimes before deciding to pay it a visit. I tend to think any danger around the world is the same back home since mugging, kidnapping, pickpocket is almost everywhere and unless one truly ignore the street wise instinct it is mostly uncommon to think it could happen.

News and television or even the internet nowadays gives off the scariest story and those story are the one that get the most highlight so I tend to ignore them thinking it is a rare thing, so rare I treat it as winning the lottery. Imagine being on a craigslist like in Australia where a homicidal maniac pick up backpackers hitchhikers only to slowly gut their life away for pleasure. Almost unthinkable since I believe the human nature is kind hearted.
The first encounter of danger was actually in Valparaiso where such dumb tourist like me and friends would pick a spot on the map and wonder in that direction.

What’s over there? Let’s check it out?
Chile I would say is really a safe place such that if you wander into a bad neighbourhood the locals will give dumb tourist fair warning. So in Valparaiso when we wondered into such one where they would mug or even worst kill you the locals tried their best to warn us which we mistakenly took it as be careful of pick pockets. Yes sure thank you we will be careful. One would think if you see children wandering about the place would be safe enough.
Walking on deeper into the bad neighbourhood of Valparaiso two young girls whistle to us and blocked our path. They spoke only Spanish and we did not understand shit but baring our path and not letting us go was an indicator. Suddenly the international sign of cutting one’s throat a finger slicing the neck was shown and big waves of saying no and pointing to the direction we were heading made it very clear that this was a bad neighbourhood. Fair Warning. U-Turn and never step foot in that territory again.
I picked up one word in Spanish in that encounter … Peligro – Danger
The second such encounter was in Coquimbo a day trip from La Serena which was only 20 minutes away, coastal town with a beautiful Crux on the top of the hill. The town was small but every path that leads to the top of the Hill and the Crux (Big Cross) had beautiful winding steps leading up and into the neighbourhood district and eventually the top of the hill. I knew the view would be worth the climb. Heading to one of the steps
Same thing happen. Walking on just at the base of the steps and I saw family with children and nice people going up so I thought it should be alright but our path was barred this time as well by a local tourist police. They was not even on duty and was just having a cigarette break but seeing us intending to head up the hill they immediately called and stopped us. All the explanation in the world and I could not understand but when I said the word Peligro it was responded with firm head nodding and a grim line of the mouth. More explanation but that was all I needed to hear to be convince to turn around and head back.
If someone ask me if Chile was safe …. I would say very safe for even dumb tourist gets protected more than the locals. As long as you head good advices and don’t be an idiot no harm will come to you. Just have to admire the Crux from down below

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