Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,
In my last blog I talked about being safe and traveling safe. I focused on beach vacation and how to be careful with “friendly” locals.
I promised to tell my own experience in Costa Rica over 15 years ago.
Before I tell you about my bad experience, I want to say that I have been to Costa Rica at least 6 times and felt safe most of those times, but I feel strongly about sharing this specific incident. Somehow, I blamed myself and despite my expertise in travel and giving others guidance and tips, I had to learn from that experience, and forgive myself.
As many of you know, I was born in Brazil and came to the US 32 years ago. Over 15 years ago, I went on a very special FAM trip organized by an airline, which included the very top people from that airline.
No need to say that everything on that FAM trip was perfectly organized. On our way back to the airport, we stopped at a nice hotel for a very special breakfast. The organizer told all of us to feel comfortable and leave everything on the bus since the driver would be watching the bus and we wouldn’t have to carry things with us.
I left my camera, together with my Brazilian passport and my green card (I wasn’t an American citizen then) on the bus. I wasn’t the only one; many more left their American passports on the bus, together with laptops and other important personal property.
During breakfast we spotted the bus driver at another table having breakfast as well. By the time we went downstairs, we had all been robbed. Many carried their passports with them, so they were ready to leave the country. The American individuals went to the American Embassy and got new passports right away and were able to leave the country.
Me? Well, I had to go to the Brazilian Embassy to get another passport. There they asked me for a Brazilian birth certificate or ID (I didn’t travel with other Brazilian documents). So, they wanted to send me to Brazil. Luckily, I was able to get someone to go to my house and fax my birth certificate. I had to stay an extra day in Costa Rica. I got my Brazilian passport and then had to go to the American Embassy for a special permit to get back into the US until I got my green card.
Lesson learned! No matter WHO tells you that someone very reliable will watch your personal documents or important property, DO NOT leave them behind. Carry them with you!
Costa Rica is a safe place, but not everyone is to be trusted, unfortunately.
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