Quotes of today that made me think:

You know. All of your actions and decisions today affect all your future generations…your children and your grandchildren.” –Michael

Yo, no sé de los demás, pero yo siempre estoy en contra de los estados unidos.” A Honduran taxista who explained why he loved Mexico and hated the US.

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One thing that confronts many inexperienced gringo travelers (and some experienced ones) is the rampant occurence of petty crime: slashed bags, dishonest room maids, debit card fraud, you name it. In a single instant, all your money, your belongings, your memories stores in notebooks, cameras, and half-writen postcards are gone. Worse: your drivers’ license, your passport, visas, credit cards and all those documents that are a griping pain to replace–if you can get out of the country at all–are grabbed.

So when it happened to Claire, here in Central America, we ruefully laughed about how one of the hallmarks of a civilized society was the honest and considerate theif.

Take my money, take my things, fine. But at least leave a single credit card and my documents!” she cried, “in England they’ll throw your bag somewhere so you have retrieve it later. It’s not the money, it’s the headache of getting it all back!”

Yeah,” added Clementine from Stockholm, “I had my camera stolen on the beaches of Tunco, El Salvador, along with everything. They could have had the decency to leave the memory card so I could keep the pictures. Bastards!

I had to laugh a little. I remember when my bag was stolen once in Cambridge, MA, and imagine my delight and surprise when the thief actually mailed back all the contents to my address minus the cash. (S/he found my address through the school directory.) Priority mail, too. I lost about $400, but that act of thoughtfulness in fact made me feel warm and fuzzy inside…like the sense that American thieves care. So we traded stories that night, between the US, England, and Sweden…as imperfect as our societies may be, we do raise proper and decent maladjusts and not the barbarian pickpockets and bag-slashers who had made Claire’s life miserable, who didn’t even have the courtesy to select things that were useful to them and leave the rest alone!

Yeah, because I gather most people can recover from a stolen camera, but it’s the memories!” joked Mike, from Manchester. “You know if they’re going to take the camera, I’d be like, ‘Wait, wait, hold on, I’ve got a few blank memory cards in my bag, let me just replace them and off you go, just give me my old card back!'”

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And thus, I concluded that while I didn’t like crime, the sort I despised the most was the stupid, delinquent crime that plagues some of the uneducated recesses of the masses. It was infinitely preferable to have highly organized and smart crime orchestrated by sophisticated operations (as opposed to the Beavis and Butthead variety.) First, because if there are huge sums of money being made by organized crime, mostly it doesn’t affect the average person who has nothing to do with the perpetrators. They don’t waste their time causing havoc among innocent passerbys because they know they can squeeze more extortion out of bigger jobs. And second, with the brilliance executed by organized crime rings (such as the Ocean’s 11 variety) you can actually admire their wit and intelligence, and even if you lose everything, you’ve lost it to someone more deserving, a rival worth talking about. Like losing to a Grand Master Chess Champion, it has dignity in it. And mostly the mara gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador, (or in Los Angeles and New York) are these kinds and if you know what you’re doing, they won’t bother you. Am I right?

But no, sadly, in many parts of the world, even the corruption is so blatantly retarded that not only do they have a higher failure rate and yield less bounty, but once one crime victim alerts the others, you’ve basically created a racial profile which is unprofitable to all involved. Why are people so short-sighted and narrow-minded?

I mean, people, don’t be stupid: if you’re going to steal, do it right!

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Note to self: I have noticed that of the American travelers I meet, they seem to 1) believe every single thing and 2) know nothing at all about the region they are traveling through. It’s a shockingly dangerous combination of ignorance, gullibility, and over-confidence.

In addition to repeating histories of Central American countries, I also find myself the person who is always translating and negotiating for groups of people at transport stations.

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