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Peru -- Should I go back?

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Sorry, folks, I lost track of this thread.


Hops -- I'm not hiking it with her because backpacking is now her thing and not mine. I'm secure enough to relax while my wife participates in recreational activitites without me. There's a saying, "if you love something, let it run free. If it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was." She always comes back. I support her in every way I can, but prefer to have a wooden roof over my head, a cold beer, and a warm bed. So she hikes with her brother.


Packsaddle -- she's done Georgia, South Carolina and part of North Carolina. She did Katahdin to mid-Maine this past summer and will work her way from the north next year.


For my part, to bring this thread home, I'm now investigating other south american/central american vacations (looking for hotels) in the following order. I have decided NOT to go back to Peru, although the following list may not be any more safe:


I don't even know if some of these countries are open to me:


1 -- Cuba

2 -- Honduras

3 -- Nicaragua

4 -- Belize

5 -- Costa Rica

6 -- Brazil

7 -- Colombia

8 -- El Salvador


My wife wanted to know why I don't want to travel to a nice safe location. I said, "what's the fun in that?"


I'll be alone which is part of the attraction. Part of my brain remembers that I was voted "most adventurous" in college and am beginning to feel a bit like Robin Williams' character in "Hook." He was really Peter Pan, but had forgotten that as he aged. I used to be very adventurous, but after 15 years of sedentary living -- I want to get out on the edge again briefly.


Don't get me wrong, I love my life and have no desire to drive a red corvette and have a mid-life crisis -- but I want another international experience that doesn't involve riding on a bus through France.


Let me walk the lesser known paths.


Someday I want to go to market in Katmandu. I think I'll take the Mrs. on that one.


Pleasant dreams.


If anyone has tips on how to get a legit solo vacation in Cuba, I'll be happy to hear them.




OH yeah -- Spanish lessons would help, too. ;)


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Been avoiding this thread, but I guess I"ll put my two cents worth in....


Here's the two major questions that I ask folks who are considering traveling to unstable third world countries...


One, do you have an emergency exit plan other than running to the embassy..


and now the tuff one, do you have the capacity to kill another human being should it become necessary...


if you answer no to either, than I would suggest rethinking the trip...

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There are both legitimate and illergitimate but doable ways to visit Cuba (so I've heard - have not done it myself!)

There are certain programs going to Cuba that the State Department classes as "cultural exchange opportunities" or some such animal - these need to be planned carefully, the whole itinerary, etc is submitted to the proper channels and it is scrutinized. There's a certain aim of not benefitting their economy by the travel...I have very little clue beyond this, and my information might be outdated - current administration may have closed this off.

I have also heard of folks going to Canada and booking their Cuban holiday through a Canadian travel agency - seems I've heard it's easy enough to get out of Canada, and takes some pitiful sobbing and humiliation to be allowed to get back in again, and thus home.

Obviously, there are Scout-like ways to attempt such a journey, and UNScout-like ways!


Anne in Mpls

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Le Voyageur:


The answer to both of your questions is yes. Same as it was in 1987.


There is so much beauty in these places. I don't want to miss it in trade for safety. Pictures of the beauties of Europe are easy to come by. Standing in remote locations where ancient societies once stood is something I long for.


It would have to be an ugly day indeed when I fled to the Embassy for help.


Annie -- I don't do the un-Scoutlike methods. I've heard of the going through Canada route to get to Cuba, but that's not my style. Over the years I have grown into the "straight forward or not at all" style. It works for me.





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Since you answered yes to those questions, then by all means go, and go now, as this journey you're longing for seems more for the soul no matter the risk.


Bon chance, and remember that the best place in the world is always where one's heart calls home...



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As far as an exit plan goes, most countries are very stable, but if you are in the country during times like the economic collapse in Argentina or the near over through of Pres. Chavez in Venezuela, neither of these times did the country collapse in to total chaos, but it might have been difficult to get a flight out at those times, so youd either have to sit tight a week or so until things blew over or take a bus or train to the next closest international airport.


In Columbia arguably the most volatile country in South America, only 26 people were kidnapped in the last three years out of the tens of thousands that visit the country every year. Those people were carefully targeted.


I was a missionary for my church in Brazil for two years; I traveled through a good portion of the country, from Rio de Janeiro to Ponta Por (on the Paraguay border) and from So Paulo to Brasilia. I both traveled and lived as a local there were neither special travel arrangements nor housing. I never had a problem.


I have also traveled through Paraguay and Columbia without issue. One thing to note in South America is that unlike the US camping isnt very popular in Latin America, while it is true that it is becoming more popular it is still very different than it is here. Many people look down on it like camping is for peasants.


In the US the urban areas are typically poorer and the suburbs are where the upper and middle class live, and in South America its the opposite the middle class live near the city centers and poorer people live in the outskirts of the cities and the rural areas.


In many cities in South America the police are quite brutal, effective but brutal, so the cities are pretty safe although they have the same problems, as youd see here in big cities. But in the rural areas the police are very scarce while the vast majority of the people are friendly and give new meaning to the word hospitality. They have their share of radicals; unfortunately they have found that kidnapping is a great fundraiser. So camping is done on special Nature Preserves and usually requires a government permit. These areas are usually protected by federal troops, because the government sees the value in Eco-Tourism. So those places are usually very safe.


If you want eco-tourism Brazil has got some of the best so does Costa Rica and Belize.


If you want to do a tour not of the backcountry I would suggest the following in order of safety. Brazil (I am bias here), Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Bolivia,


It all depends on where you want to go and what you want to do. I plan on going back and spending a month traveling throughout South America.


Hope this helps,



(This message has been edited by johnsned)

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Thanks, John and Le Voyageur. I'm beginning to plan my adventure.


It is for the soul -- and hopefully alpaca wool. I kick myself for the two things I didn't do in Peru -- take pictures and buy alpaca by the yard.


I also want to see mountains and ancient ruins.


I'll keep you all posted on where I decide to go and I'll post the pictures someplace when I get back.


But I'm not going until some time in July, so don't hold your breath.



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I got an email today from a travel agent who books trips to Cuba. I'm going to look into it, but I don't like the way it sounds so far. Seems somehow dishonest to me.



"Hi Dave,


Thanks for your interest in a trip to Cuba. We offer flights from Nassau and Cancun, but we don't offer flights originating in the US. Click here to see flight schedule from Nassau. Let me know what dates you want to travel and I'll send you the flight schedule from Cancun. We can also book your hotel for you if you like. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.




Cuba makes me a little nervous because it's an island. Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt made it from Havanna to Florida in an old bathtub, but water isn't my medium. I can hitchike, catch a train(literally) walk, etc. but not from Havanna to Miami.


Has anyone here been to Cuba? Do they have ruins, mountains and alpaca?





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Costa Rica tops my list. Compared to Costa Rica, we are a really violent and lawless country. I really like the people and the country and I think it is the safest country I have visited so far (the food could use some improvement). I can point you to great destinations there. Just fly to San Jose, rent a car, and wing it. Great fun!

Ecuador has always intrigued me too. I plan to get to that one asap. Did anyone say, 'Galapagos'?

The way to get to Cuba is to...come to think of it - if I tell you, I'll technically be breaking a law. Sorry. See:


Especially during these times, trying to re-enter the U.S. with a passport accidentally stamped by Cuba (without the license) tends to catch the attention of our agents. You'd lose more than your cigars and any of the other countries you listed make better destinations.

Have a great trip!


Edited part: Exit plan - the great thing about Central and South America is that if worse comes to worse, I could theoretically walk home.(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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Can't advise based on my own experience as I've never been south of the US.


However, if asked my more-traveled dad would chime in loudly for Costa Rica. He likes it very much down there, considers it a lovely place in which his propensity for leaving the hotels and seeking out the locals didn't seem likely to have fatal consequences. He and my mom went several times before her untimely death last year. (Dad's 76 now, going on 45.) What he likes was that every person he met in Costa Rica was unfailingly proud of their country, generous with their time and possessions, and appeared to be generally content with his or her lot - although the "standard of living" was lower by far than what we are used to in this country, there wasn't much hopeless, depressing, grinding poverty. The country has a high literacy rate and a lot of people making it OK, if by dint of their kitchen garden and a few chickens in the yard. Actually, Dad considered it similar to conditions back on the Wisconsin farm - not much money, but nothing to buy anyway so who cares? No gap between rich and poor, since no one was rich at all.


They used to vacation in Mexico but the past 10 years or so their favorite spots seemed to get excessively touristy - and the non-touristy spots seemed to get somewhat scarier.


Now, my other well-traveled friend went to Honduras and loved it there too - but she was there on a medical mission trip which might not be quite the relaxing endeavor you have in mind. And there was danger there, in liberal quantity.



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SagerScout, I concur with your dad. One of the most interesting things I heard is how Ticans proudly note that they once defeated the United States in an invasion attempt. OK this is their exaggeration.


The table could be turned. See:



Like the little dinosaur says, "gotta love 'em." Time to brush up on Spanish.

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