I repeat, Americans are scared of everywhere. Next Friday, I will be headed to Cartagena, Colombia for vacation with some friends to stay with another friend who lives there. No, he is not a drug lord (I don’t think … I reserve the right to amend this post after vacation). Everyone is all “yeah, Colombia is nice, minus the massive cocaine trade and gang presence”, or “Cartagena, like in Romancing the Stone? (and the jungle and scary and death)”, or “Colombia … South Carolina?” (No, Boston, Texas.)
Or better, “Haven’t you heard of Pablo Escobar???” (Yeah, he died. I read Killing Pablo, thanks. And I also have a general familiarity with the history of the world.) Or best, “WHAT?!?! YOU’RE GOING TO GET KIDNAPPED AND DIE”.
If we’re going to die on this trip, it will be because we’re flying Spirit Airlines there.
This is what Colombia looks like (look, not a drug lord in sight!):
This is not the first time I’ve encountered this. People were horrified that I was going to Vietnam. (Yes, the war there ended quite some time ago.) Croatia??? Isn’t that like, the Middle East?? (Let me grab you a map.) Cambodia?? WHERE IS THAT, it sounds scary, are there poor people there?!?!
I guess it’s a fear of the unknown? Maybe I’m wrong, but it just feels that this is sort of a uniquely American thing. This unwillingness to go anywhere that is not all roses and butterflies. An unwillingness to educate themselves and look beyond stereotypes and what basically amounts to propaganda. Is it the movies? (Probably. I feel like you can blame the movies for most things.) A general lack of eduction?
Whatever it is, this attitude is such a waste. There are SO many amazing places in the world. Just because there used to be a drug problem, or a genocide (hello, people go to Germany! Why not Cambodia?), or there was once a war there doesn’t mean that nothing changes. Also, I feel like it’s just as easy to get mugged in New York or DC as it is anywhere else in the world. Terrible freak things happen everywhere, in every town. I know someone that was mugged in the grocery store in Dallas, in a safe neighborhood. Does that mean you shouldn’t go to the grocery store anymore? Should we just never leave the house?? I think people just need to be careful and aware of your surroundings, no matter where are you. Don’t be stupid. And then hope for the best and enjoy the adventure! Because you’re missing out on some freaking amazing things if you don’t.
All this said, if I do get kidnapped by a narco-terrorist, you can tell me you told me so.