The dark side of touring.

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il padrone
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The dark side of touring.

Postby il padrone » Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:12 pm

Terrible experience for Joff Summerfield, just doing his second circumnavigation of the globe on his penny farthing. He has struck a hard barrier in Ecuador :( Just posted today on Facebook.

Joff Summerfield wrote:12 hrs ·

A bad day in Ecuador.
Free camping, its what all us adventure cyclist do. I´ve done it all over the world and never had a problem.
Today my luck ran out.
After a long day on the wheel, where 51 miles were covered I entered an area where there were many camping oppertunities. My first attempt to camp fails when a family walk out of the bush and see me. Staying on the right side of caution I say hallo and move on to find somewhere else.
A few miles further along the road a nice path appears that goes off into a plantation. Here standing by the side of the road I wait until there is a gap in the traffic so nobody sees me dive off into the bush.
Walking in 100 yards, then another 50 yards off the path gives me a nice safe place for the night, or so I think.
After pitching up the tent and having unloaded the Penny I sit down and start to prepare for a nice evening. Off in the distance I notice someone moving through the trees. Probably just a farmer, they sometimes find you, and a friendly smile and hallo always sends them on their way without problem. He dissapears, and I assume he didn´t spot me. Five minutes later he returns and is with a friend and making a bee line toward me in the tent. Still I´m unconcerned, and prepare for a cheerful encounter.
When they get to within a few yards I realise something is wrong. No smiles, animals on the hunt. The first guy who is about 35 reaches into his pocket and pulls out a gun, this is serious. The other younger man with stave in hand helps drag me out of the tent.
With the gun to my head I´m in no mood to argue against their blows. My options are limited, stay calm and pacify. The agression is real and frightening. With a gun to my temple I try to make them understand that I´m no threat.
The plastic rope they bought is lashed about my ankles and wrists. I´m able to pretend by twisting my wrists that the bindings are tighter than they really are, leaving myself a small way out.
Now I´m thrown on my side, and worryingly my head is covered by my jacket. Shouts of unintelligible Spanish fire between them, and the muzzel of the gun presses hard down above my ear. This isn´t adventurous or exciting, just terrifying.
Possibly they now find my computor or camera, the pressure above my ear disappears as their foul glee increases. Seconds or minutes pass I couldn´t really say, then I´m pulled up and shown my credit card, they want the pin.
By way of encouragement to lessen my reticence the barrell presses hard into my temple once again. My resistance fades quickly, but screw them they can have the pin, just not the correct one. They demand to know how much is in the account, I lie and their greed is palpable. I just hope that they both leave to go to the ATM.
Having been thrown down again with covered head I can´t understand their Spanish as they shout at each other, but I feel the last of their haul is being loaded into my backpack.
Argument and agitated discussion ensues, they now seem to be deciding what to do with me. The barrell is back on my head, I try and talk with a calm tone, I have to remind them that I am a human, a gunshot in a forest wont be heard, but they don´t need to do it. The younger is, I think more reticent, time stands still. The pressure of the gun disappears, and I now expect the blow to fall from the cowards stave. I lift my head from the ground to lessen the shock of the expected crack.
This anticipation is somthing I hope never to experience again, slow immeasurable seconds, waiting, time, the clock ticks.
Is the calm real?
I ask for water, no answer. I´m up, they have gone to the cash point. My bonds are off in two minutes, and I curse as my bare feet sprint back through the plantation. Bursting onto the road the people who constantly stop for their photo´s now don´t want to know. Finally after about 50 cars pass a decent human stops to help. He calls the police and they arrive in 5 minutes.
Having been put on a bus back to Quito and well away from where it happened about 20km south of Santo Domingo, I can take a very deep breath.
I´m left with my Penny, pith, tent and sleeping bag. Pretty much everything else is gone, clothes, electrics, even my toothbrush. But I still have my hand written journals, passport, and a fast beating heart in my chest.
The next few hours show the real Ecuador, kindness abounds, I´m given shoes for my bloody feet, food and money by the people in the bus station.
My journey is now over and I´m heading home to take a deep breath, see my family and friends, and have a pint in an English pub.
I do still believe that 99% of people in the world are kind, caring and lovely human beings. Unfortunately on this occasion I met the last and lowest 1%.
Joff
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thecaptn
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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby thecaptn » Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:56 pm

Ecuador, gee who would have thought you could get mugged in Ecuador?

Or burned to death in your van in Mexico?

What are the chances :roll:

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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby mikesbytes » Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:41 pm

Yeh read that on his facebook account, he's lucky not to have been shot.

I met him briefly in NZ, a nice guy
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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby toolonglegs » Tue Dec 01, 2015 5:44 am

I have got to say it is a bit fool hardy thinking hiding in the bushes in a South American country will make you safe. Asked my wife and she said it's not on her radar as much as Mexico or most Central American countries but still a fair bit of risk.

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Leaf T
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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby Leaf T » Sat Dec 12, 2015 11:47 am

It does make you wonder but I like to think it's pretty safe here in Australia.

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il padrone
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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby il padrone » Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:02 am

Leaf T wrote:It does make you wonder but I like to think it's pretty safe here in Australia.

Was talking to someone about that in NZ, that generally Australia is a safe place to travel and free-camp. Then they said "Oh but what about Peter Falconio?" The crass meeja these days makes almost everything seem a huge life-threatening risk.
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Warin
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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby Warin » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:46 pm

il padrone wrote:
Leaf T wrote:It does make you wonder but I like to think it's pretty safe here in Australia.

Was talking to someone about that in NZ, that generally Australia is a safe place to travel and free-camp. Then they said "Oh but what about Peter Falconio?"


Have hitch-hikers been spotted around Belango State Forest?

'We' do have crime in OZ. It is just not at a numerous level. :roll:

Most USA people think it is not safe to travel in Mexico. Yet how many people die in the USA by gun every day there? It is all about what you are used to. Reading a LP book on Nigeria ... guy was reading the local paper in a locals house .. people dead from a fireworks factory explosion, more people dead from a 'leak' in an oil pipe ... He said it must have been a very bad day .. the house owner said .. no, just an average day... :? IIRC the total was over 200 dead.

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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby koshari » Fri Jan 22, 2016 8:14 am

thecaptn wrote:Ecuador, gee who would have thought you could get mugged in Ecuador?


What are the chances :roll:

Your point?
a walk up hoddle st in melbourne or a day out at port arthur could have resulted in worse.
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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby mikesbytes » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:06 am

il padrone wrote:
Leaf T wrote:It does make you wonder but I like to think it's pretty safe here in Australia.

Was talking to someone about that in NZ, that generally Australia is a safe place to travel and free-camp. Then they said "Oh but what about Peter Falconio?" The crass meeja these days makes almost everything seem a huge life-threatening risk.
About the worse thing that happens in NZ is that your car gets broken into while you are bush walking or should I call it tramping, so AU does look more dangerous.

Anyway back on topic, has anyone heard from Josh now he's back in his mother country?
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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby RonK » Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:56 pm

mikesbytes wrote:About the worse thing that happens in NZ is that your car gets broken into while you are bush walking or should I call it tramping, so AU does look more dangerous.


You think so? A fellow member of this forum may disagree. Christchurch to Hanmer Springs: Slight problem: I've been shot in the eye.

And on my first tour, a woman at roadside campsite was shot and killed during night while cleaning her teeth - a hunter thought her headtorch was a deer's eye. It made me think very carefully about camping.
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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby mikesbytes » Fri Jan 22, 2016 2:48 pm

RonK wrote:
mikesbytes wrote:About the worse thing that happens in NZ is that your car gets broken into while you are bush walking or should I call it tramping, so AU does look more dangerous.


You think so? A fellow member of this forum may disagree. Christchurch to Hanmer Springs: Slight problem: I've been shot in the eye.

And on my first tour, a woman at roadside campsite was shot and killed during night while cleaning her teeth - a hunter thought her headtorch was a deer's eye. It made me think very carefully about camping.
Oh, I forgot about the change in hunting laws.
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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby Cheesewheel » Thu Jan 28, 2016 12:18 pm

http://www.news.com.au/world/the-worlds ... 27f9eb3744

News article about the most dangerous cities in the world (in terms of homicides per 100 00). Contenders had to have populations over 300 000 and not be war zones. 41 of the 50 were in south america. Unstable politics + cashed up gangs + corruption seems to be the contribution to places in the region of 100/100 000/year
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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby rama » Thu Jan 28, 2016 8:35 pm

As a general comment for any tourist, danger should not be calculated based on their own perception of how much they are "worth" in their home country. Rather, tourists should look into the value they represent in the country they visit.
A low-key cycle tourist might be snobbed in any developed country, but may still look like a fine catch in a poor country. Your touring gear, small amounts of cash, credit cards, even your worn out sandals might look attractive to desperate people. Not to mention that the value of life varies around the world. You would not think that anyone would stab you for a few dollars back home, but this may make sense in a crime infested area.
A friend of mine toured many poor and remote countries a long time ago, coming across excellent hospitality. When he returned to those countries a few years ago, he got mugged in the very same places he had felt safe in the past. To use his words, "the era of innocence is over".
Stay safe, avoid trouble.

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Re: The dark side of touring.

Postby Leaf T » Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:21 pm

Was it Hans Tilman who said the world is not the same place it was 10 - 20 years ago? Would be a very sad loss if this were true.

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