Yesterday a person put a link to a troubling story up on my web page about an attack that took place in Pallcca. You can read the story here, but it is quite disturbing. A summary of events is that three American tourists were traveling in Peru in a truck camper and were robbed of all their possessions and severely beaten. All three of the travelers survived, and are currently receiving medical treatment in Cuzco (the story was posted on January 3rd, and the events took place on December 29th).
I am deeply saddened to read a story like this, and I wish the hardship the travelers suffered could have been averted.
I have often remarked on this web page that I feel safe in Peru, which is true. In the ten years that I lived there, I was never attacked or mistreated. In fact, the Peruvians I interacted with were always generous and hospitable to a remarkable extent. I feel an extreme affection for Peruvians, and I would hope that people do not read this “Nightmare in Peru” story and draw conclusions about Peru any more than Americans would like foreigners to read about the Sandy Hook shootings and draw conclusions about America.
This story has put some things into perspective for me, however. Sometimes when writing, you assume that people are going to understand things that you consider to be common sense without you having to say it. Even when you make an effort to explain every eventuality point by point, there are still going to be things that slip through.
I would like to be clear that in my days traveling in Peru, I always–as a friend of mine put it–“Dressed in rags.” If I were to spend a week in Cusco, I would bring a small satchel with extra underwear and a shirt and shorts to wear while I washed my other clothes. I also traveled with a fanny pack (people have often ridiculed me because this fanny pack appears in many of my pictures). Although it’s not fashionable, my fanny pack allowed me to always have my passport firmly against my body. I never even carried a camera most of the time, and I never brought enough money along to be of interest.
In short, I kept a low profile and was always ready to move fast. My security measures were extreme (almost to the level of paranoia), which is probably why nothing ever happened to me. I wouldn’t have attempted to drive around Peru in a rented camper with ten thousand dollars of equipment, and I don’t recommend it.
Even though I was frequently dressed as a beggar, there were places I went to where I was embarrassed by the wealth I was flashing just by having a pair of old, scuffed, but still functional boots.
Nobody should ever be attacked, and I feel very sad for these tourists and their horrible experience. I think the best thing to do is to make other travelers aware that you can’t go into areas of extreme poverty with a lot of expensive items. That isn’t safe. I do not think these tourists were at fault for what transpired, but I would like to warn potential future travelers of Peru that you should keep a low profile and leave your expensive items at home.
I wish these unfortunate tourists the best, and I will look for updates to this situation to see how they are faring, as well as see what legal action transpires as a result of this. I also hope that nobody has gotten the wrong impression from things I have written on this page. There are dangers in every country of the world and you need to be prepared and protect yourself whether you’re traveling in Peru, the US or elsewhere. There are always places you shouldn’t go.
For those of you who haven’t already, make sure you do me a favor a pick up my books Beyond Birkie Fever and The Bone Sword over at the Rhemalda Bookshop! If you happen to write a review somewhere, please let me know! Also, add Birkie and Bone Sword to your cart on Amazon.com!