Today I was bitten by a dog. Fortunately, I was able to buy antiseptic wash and tincture of iodine at a local pharmacy, despite being in a relatively remote mountain region of Colombia  (the country has an impressive health system and abundance of pharmacies). Bad news, it’s said, repeats itself. Barely two hours later, I was attacked by two dogs. This time I stopped the snarling hounds in their tracks with a shot of pepper spray.
I hadn’t figured on repelling mad dogs when I purchased my pepper spray canisters (about the size of a shotgun cartridge). I had two-legged assailants in mind.
But the incident confirmed the wisdom of the various security safeguards I’ve adopted for my month-long tour of Colombia and which I’ll adopt for my future research trips in Costa Rica  and Cuba .
I’ve grown to love this fantastically functional lightweight garment. Not least because the lower-right exterior pocket features a sewn-in spring-coiled cable with key-chain attachment, but to which I’ve connected one of my pepper-spray canisters. When the dogs attacked, I whipped it out in a mere second. That same pocket also holds my BlackBerry, secured in a sewn-in elastic band.
Two uppermost see-through pockets with half-zippers prove perfect for my passport and cell-phone, respectively, with instant easy access. I carry a compact hard-drive containing all my photo files updated daily in a secure interior pocket. Plus I’m making great use of another dozen or so pockets.
I’ve also secured my luggage to guard against theft from either my rental vehicle or hotel room. First, my three bags (camera/backpackage/luggage) are secured within Pacsafe 120  nets (these adjustable nets are made of high-tensile stainless steel) that are tethered with chains and padlocks around the seat frames of my vehicle (and to furniture in hotel rooms).
Paranoid? Not at all. Last year thieves broke into my vehicle and stole my entire possessions!
Two bags occupy the passenger seat well, and the third occupies the seat well behind the passenger seat, while a spare tire wedged behind the driver’s seat ensures that no-one can access my vehicle when I pull up to a red light to attempt a secuestro expresso--an express kidnapping, usually involving forcing someone to go to a bank to withdraw cash at an ATM—as was attempted against me last year. Such express kidnappings are a problem in Latin America.
At my request, Dollar Rent-a-Car’s Colombia franchise also fitted my Toyota 4WD Land Cruiser  with tinted windows and an alarm system. And I travel with a pepper spray canister at hand in the vehicle.
The good news is that I’ve been traveling throughout Colombia for the past month without incident. The country is beautiful. The people are friendly and helpful in the extreme. And my experience has been wholeheartedly positive. See my blog post: ’Costa Rica and Cuba expert is Colombia bound’ .
Learn more about Christopher P. Baker .
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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