For anyone that travels to places that have different cultures to your own, there is often a time where you have the option to go somewhere a little bit dangerous. Whether it is a busy market where the you walk in fear for your wallet, a notoriously violent place where you walk in fear of being shot or even just an unsavoury area where you walk in fear of everything and anything.
The fact is that for many of us, curiosity is deeply entrenched which leads us to these places, also often many popular tourist attractions may also attract the ‘shady’ people as they know it’ll be like shooting fish in a barrel. Nonetheless, I often find myself in such situations.
The other day I went to a barrio in Mexico City called Tepito which has quite literally miles of market stalls with every product under the sun. I was told twice that going wasn’t really a good idea and that many Mexicans don’t even go. Unfortunately, as was the case when I was a child, when someone says don’t do something my first reaction is ‘why not?’ and then the temptation to do it becomes overwhelming.
After returning from the barrio I was telling a Mexican girl about where I’d been, she seemed bemused as to why I’d go to such a place, I didn’t really have an answer. She told me, tongue in cheek, that I was too innocent for Mexico, this got me thinking, when is a decision like this reckless, when is it adventurous and when indeed, is it just innocence? My problem is both curiosity and potentially a touch of arrogance, I know what could happen but I hold the opinion that it won’t happen to me.
Tepito didn’t really feel that dangerous but there was certainly an edge, I had my wallet and phone clamped in my hand and despite getting lost on more than one occasion I never really felt in danger. There was a moment where a policeman raised his gun towards me to move but that is an altogether different story, and not quite as exciting as it sounds.
Last year in Brazil I visited a favela, we were going to take a tour but it fell through so we decided just to wander in and hope for the best. We did a bit of research beforehand so we certainly weren’t innocent, reckless maybe, adventurous for sure. The favela trip was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done, so it really paid off.
I think in reality that recklessness and adventurous often go together, it isn’t really possible to be reckless without adventure but you can certainly be adventurous without being reckless. Innocence, well that’s a little trickier. The likelihood is that you won’t know you are innocent until after the event, if you knew you might get mugged in a particular area beforehand then you are not innocent, you are either reckless or adventurous, or both. If you didn’t then I guess you wouldn’t have know until you had a blade to your throat and the foul breath of a mugger in your nose.
I’m going to be visiting some pretty lively places in the coming months, none-more-so than San Pedro Sula in Honduras (Official Murder Capital of the World) so I’ve decided to adopt a new approach, educated recklessness in search of adventure, it’s one thing to get attacked, mugged or worse, but it’s quite another thing to have not be prepared for it. The last thing I want is to be sitting at the pearly gates feeling like an idiot.
Note to Mum – I will of course be taking every precaution to stay safe, this is just my macho blog post!