Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
Car robbery against me foiled in Costa Rica
Two weeks ago, I was almost the victim of a clever yet clumsy attempt to rob me, when a trio of thieves attempted to break into my rental car in Costa Rica.
The lessons are salutary, especially in the wake of a similar robbery that relieved me of all my luggage while traveling in Colombia in September 2010. The latter event (and escalating reports of serious robberies against tourists in Costa Rica) has made me super aware of potential threats, and put me on my toes (see my blog post: “Safety precautions while traveling in Latin America”).
My friend, naturalist guide Karla Taylor, and I were heading to San Gerardo de Rivas to spend a few days relaxing at the sublime Rio Chirripo Retreat. Outside Cartago we stopped at the Max Super supermarket to buy some food for the road. A stranger immediately stepped forward and offered to keep an eye on our car.
Ever-conscious of potential scams (and having learned from my Colombia experience that even official car park attendants can’t be trusted), I declined and decided to sit in the vehicle while Karla went into the store.
The man followed Karla into the store. Minutes later he appeared and told me that Karla had fallen and hurt her leg.
Sensing a lie, I ignored him. Now I was on my guard.
“What if it’s true?” I thought, imagining that I couldn’t afford to ignore the possibility that she had actually fallen.
Since the vehicle was parked facing the store entrance, I decided to go to the doorway, where I could keep an eye on the car and also determine if Karla had fallen.
Reaching the entrance, just 20 yards from the car, I looked back…
A man with a T-shirt wrapped around his head (a disguise against the store’s security cameras) was already casing the car. His face was up to the rear window of our little Suzuki Jimny, in which our possessions were in plain view.
The point man moved to block my vision. I grabbed at his shirt collar, then pushed him aside and ran toward the car. Thankfully I had the good sense to also shout for security guards, who rushed to my aid.
The thief saw me coming and dashed to a getaway car parked a few feet away.
I jumped in front of the car, then thought the better of it as the driver revved the engine, then let the clutch fly.
The security guard chased after them with his gun drawn!
The event was over in seconds (the point man had high-tailed it on foot).
Alas, I wasn’t carrying the can of pepper spray that has become a standard part of my travel attire. I lay awake that night imagining how I could have hit all three in the face with a splash of spray, immobilizing them until the police came.
Lessons to be learned?
Never, ever, leave your rental car unattended with luggage or other valuables inside.
Never trust a “good Samaritan” who volunteers to watch your vehicle, where for a tip or otherwise.
For further information about travel in Costa Rica, buy Moon Costa Rica
If you're traveling only to San José and the Caribbean, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to the beaches of Nicoya, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to Arenal and/or Monteverde, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Arenal & Monteverde pocket guide.
Learn more about Christopher P. Baker.
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker