When Bad Things Happen


Referring to any one place as “Paradise” diminishes the word. One person’s paradise is another’s hell.

Note to self: I have to stop referring to Puerto Escondido as paradise; stopped referring to Xico as that long ago. Mexico – never started that.

Found on the Puerto Forum:

[last] Sunday Night Beach Robbery

Two American girls, who were walking from the Point to Zicatela were accosted and robbed near Hotel Blater on Sunday night, shortly after dark, by two men armed with machetes, who relieved them of all their possessions but did not harm them otherwise. Cops called and responded. (This info was provided by our gardener, who is a night watchman in the area, and responded to the girls’ pleas for help.)

A discussion ensued about the dangers of walking our local beaches at night.

IMAGO (A local journalist)  replied for example: Do not, do not, do not ever walk on the beach after dark. Robberies like that are way too common. Even walking on a deserted beach during the day can be dangerous.

Anita and I have defied this sage advice on numerous occasions. Simply casting fate to the wind I suppose.

Then there is always one of these persons that KNOW a safer place. DOODAH chimed in with:

[I] Recently was in Cuba….could walk anywhere, anytime and not have any problems. Quite enjoyable relative to my experiences in Mexico where I have had a stiletto at my throat in Puerto Vallarta and never felt comfortable walking at dusk on the beach in PE [Puerto Escondido] Just sayin’….

So I guess, what, we should all relocate to a communist country?

Usually during these discussions someone brings out statistics. “Yes, but there are more muggings and robberies at Disneyland in Anaheim, California than here.”  Does this give us peace of mind here in Puerto?

Of course there are the optimists that believe this could not happen to them. There are the ‘believers’ – “Must have been Karma.”  or “The Lord will protect me.”

And the pessimists. “It is no longer safe anywhere in the world.”

Pick a platitude.

It is a fact that there is little police presence here. And slim chances that much help will be forth coming should such a horrible event occur here. To whom much freedom is given, much danger looms. It is a fact – it is freer here.

The other day this occurred and was bandied about on the local forum:

“Tuna fishermen from Sinaloa kill a local fisherman”

Again IMAGO: Some big tuna trawlers from Sinaloa [have] been “stationed” just off of Playa Marinero [one of Puerto’s local beaches] for the last few days. It’s always bad news for the local fisherman when they are here. Early this morning a group of drunk fishermen from the trawler beat to death a 65-year-old member of the local fishing community when he was setting out some beach chairs. The police, reportedly, did not respond in a timely manner and allowed the presumed attackers to return to their boat, The local fishermen are incensed and are threatening to burn the ship. The beach was closed off for part of the morning. According to various reports the killing took place in front of the restaurant “Olas”. (I’m not familiar with this place.) Apparently the drunk Sinaloan [sailors] wanted to buy beer, and the victim, Hilario Juarez, better known as Don Layeto, told them that the place wasn’t open yet.

We all were greatly saddened by this senseless killing on our local beach.

Truly how does one prepare and defend themselves for such possibilities? One local forum member writes, “Don’t show any excess in wealth here, keep in lighted areas, travel in 2s never alone, beware when your drunk, The big holiday is coming up, also the biggest for crime.. So be on your toes”.

Here is some of the typical advice (not promoting any one):

Do not dress provocatively

No wearing flashy Jewelry or carrying expensive cameras.

Always carry and have readily available pepper spray

Just give them what they want – things can always be replaced.

Always carry a baseball bat and be willing to use it (train for such an occasion)

There is too much violence on television and in films.

Never put yourself in dangerous locations such as the beach at night.

To sum it up, I believe it is not any more dangerous in Puerto Escondido than in most other places not even counting what is known to be classified more dangerous such as several border towns here in Mexico. At the same time pick a few cautionary measures from the lists above and make them a habit.

I also believe here in Puerto there is little to no assurance of any police support if an event occurs. There is a certain element of lawlessness (recall our recent experience with our car being hit before our eyes – read that here). Perhaps as Mexico matures this will get better – only time will tell. In the meantime we are rubbing elbows with paradise here in Puerto Escondido (there I go using that word!). We are not about to give up on this place any time soon.  Stay Tuned!

  • barbara eckrote

    Years, years, years ago I stopped walking beaches alone and/or camping on them, alone. Each time I walk with someone I am slightly inwardly angry at the fact that my life must be changed because of caution!

  • norm

    When the citizen asks me how can I spend months in Latin America, being how dangerous it is-I tell them I went to school in Youngstown, Ohio . I spent time in Guatemala, Honduras and southern Mexico this past winter, Guatemala seemed the safest, Mexico was fine for the most part and I would advise people to avoid Honduras for the time being-the rule of law is falling apart there right now.
    Guatemala has a rule about guns that I like; a legal gun has a round fired off and kept on file with the powers-that-be, someone comes up with a hole in them from a gun, they have something to compare it to. Now if you get stopped with a gun that is not registered, it is assumed you are up to no good and confined for a bit until you pay a fine and they check said gun against bullets they have dug out of people. A rule we could use in Youngstown.
    I found southern Mexico to be safe in the cities and towns, safer than the cities I frequent in Northeast Ohio, much safer. The countryside is about the same in both areas. There is always the chance of getting nicked, anywhere but if we hide at home, under our beds, we’ll never have any fun.

  • Tancho

    Great advise. The police are not around to protect anyone other than to keep a little advantage of control. Unfortunately in Mexico we never know who is on who’s side. I am always surprised at how lax tourists seem to be, getting drunk which is an open invitation to get mugged or showing off with expensive watches, jewelry, electronics and such. Being aware of one’s own surroundings is paramount to not inviting bad things to happen.

  • John Calypso

    “The police are not around to protect anyone other than to keep a little advantage of control.”

    Sadly, Very much the case here about.

  • John Calypso

    ” There is always the chance of getting nicked, anywhere but if we hide at home, under our beds, we’ll never have any fun.” OMG so true Norm.

  • John Calypso

    Babs – as you suggest: Each one of these terrible events takes just a little more of the shine off the possibilities in life – very sad. Perhaps sterner repercussions might cause fear in the perpetrators rather than the victims and the public at large?

  • norm

    I ran your post past Linda. She said,” I would not walk down our road at night, the beach or the streets in Ashtabula at night period”, She liked your list of don’ts, I left a nice NorthFace raincoat home on our last trip south because it looked too nice-wore a ten year old warhorse jacket that I ware to football games in Cleveland – your same rules apply there…

  • John Calypso

    It is a shame we have to dress down to avoid getting mugged – grrrr.

  • frankania

    I was robbed in Habana, Cuba in the 80′s in a square in the center. He grabbed my wallet as I took it out to change some dollars. I chased him yelling “ladron!” & was just grabbing his arm, when he threw down my wallet an jumped over a fence. So much for the worker’s paradise! Only time in my life..

  • John Calypso

    Frank – cementing the point bad things happen every here given the right (or is it the wrong) circumstances.

  • Kim G

    Great article. Frankly, I have a very hard time explaining to my Gringo friends here what the Mexican security situation really is. Because frankly, the police don’t do squat, and often in fact are the ones to hold you up. And yes, there’re all the horrible things you read in the papers about gang wars, etc. Plenty of awful things do happen to people there, mostly Mexicans. Yet despite all this, I feel pretty safe there. I walk around Mexico City at night, sometimes alone. I wave down cabs (something that it took F a long time to persuade me to do). I’ve travelled all over the country by bus and by car without problem. And so far, so good. Sure, there have been times where I’ve thought it wise to cross the street or go the other way. But nothing has ever happened. May that blessed state continue.

    Meanwhile, I was once mugged in the SF Bay area, and I’ve definitely felt nervous wandering around cities like Houston or Los Angeles. Heck, I lived in LA during the Rodney King riots, and I was a nervous wreck inside the house, with the sofa across the door.

    At the end of the day, one must be careful and observant. But the odds are that you’ll be ok, especially if you just give up whatever a robber wants. Most criminals just want money; they aren’t particularly interested in hurting you. Of course there are enough psychopaths that you have to consider the possibility.

    But I’m with Norm: “…if we hide at home, under our beds, we’ll never have any fun.”


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Which is absurdly safe. Or at least feels that way.

  • Kim G

    I love the fact that you chased that guy down!!!

  • John Calypso

    Kim – of course all you write is true. I had an attempted robbery in San Francisco in a rental car at a traffic light – a funny story I should share some time. Never had a problem here – but I am 6’1″ and probably do not look like a person to bother with (maybe my gray hair is going to diminish that luxury? In any case circumstances that lead to bad events can happen anywhere. We just have to trudge on and have a good time doing it ;-)

  • Richard

    Good advice not to be to “well to do” tempting fate. Blend in, don’t stand out. Walking the beach at night invites trouble.

  • http://vivaveracruz.com/blog John Calypso

    Not difficult to not be “well to do”.