We feel compelled to write this blog after hearing about some events recently.
Might save someone some grief and pain.
One story is especially heartbreaking. A single gal, who had planned for over 2 years to make the move to Cuenca finally arrived, but she didn't stay long. She is now back 'home' in the US. She had the ugly and painful experience of having her long, dangly, sparkley earrings ripped off her ears. She also felt she was a gringa target for pickpockets and 'latin men'. (Debatable...gringo men can be targets, too.)
Another gal had her necklace ripped off her neck by a thief and she was knocked down in the process.
So, here's the message... Ladies, DON'T wear flashy, easy to grab jewelry on the streets! Why be an easy target for opportunistic thieves? Leave your expensive and costume! jewelry in the hotel or apt safe or don't bring it. Thieves don't know the value and you can get hurt. We are amazed that new folks still wear their diamonds on the street...Replace your wedding rings for simple silver-colored bands from the market (or don't wear them). You don't want to lose a finger.
We hear about cell phones, purses, laptops, money, you name it, all being stolen. Be careful! Take the same precautions you would in any large city. If you don't want to lose it, then protect it or don't carry it. Nancy's shopping bag has nothing particularly valuable in it...hats, water, kleenex, umbrella, maybe fruit from the market. She would be annoyed if someone grabbed it, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. Zippered or velcroed pockets are the way to go for cell phone, money, keys, camera. You can also pin the pockets shut to slow down the opportunity.
Be mindful of your surroundings. If you feel the little hairs on your neck go up, get out of there! One gal wanted to walk by herself in a secluded and peaceful area of the river. She had a backpack loaded with goodies. She didn't pay attention and flee when some kids approached her, even though she didn't feel comfortable. Yep, she lost her backpack to the thieves, including her passport. (Carry copies of your passport or other id, leave the originals in the safe.)
We hear about stolen items from vehicles all the time. Don't leave your camera in the glove department, or your luggage in the back, unless you want it to disappear. Lock your car and only park in safe, secure areas. Your car could be towed or broken into.
Remember...Cuenca is a big City, even though it feels like a small town. Take precautions you would in, say, New York, Chicago or San Francisco. Ask yourself, as you head out into the day: Do I really need to carry this purse today? Do I really need to carry all this money and credit cards? Do I have a secure pocket for the camera, cell phone and keys?
Be mindful and smart when you pack for the trip here. Don't pack valuables you don't want to lose in your checked luggage. Pack your cash, jewelry and other valuables in your carry-on. You don't want to be surprised and sad that treasures are missing when you arrive.
Guns are not common here, but knives are...One gal, walking alone at the river at dusk, was held up by knifepoint. There are reports of stabbings, too.
Be sure to check taxis, restaurant tables and park benches for your things as you leave. If your cell phone, sunglasses or Kindle is left behind, chances are you'll never see it again. Keep your head in the game.
We love this City and we don't want to scare anyone. We love walking these streets and seeing eveything on foot. But, we try to be cautious and careful, just like we were in our days in big US cities.
Our upcoming holidays, starting this weekend, will bring in another 30-40,000 visitors. More people everywhere and may be an uptick in crime, too. But, don't let that stop you from all the fun!
Just be extra careful, pay attention, protect your stuff and stay safe!