Should I be worried about crime?

Old Dec 13th, 2010, 01:59 PM
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Should I be worried about crime?

For those that have visited or live in Belize, how high would you rate the crime level in Belize? I am going to be conducting research for nine weeks in Belize Summer 2011 and want to know how cautious I should be as a young woman traveling on my own. I will primarily be in Hopkins Village but will make some trips to the city and other regions. I know crime is a problem no matter where you go and even in one's own home country, however I just wanted some other opinions.
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Old Dec 13th, 2010, 02:27 PM
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All countries in Central America are not safe, Belize would be considered the 4th un-safest country out of the six. Homicides are slightly less than Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, but higher than Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
I am currently in Costa Rica, and what I have witnessed in my stay here has been a lot of armed robberies and to make it worse, the main newspaper of the country is one dedicated to showing murdered people complete with photographs and almost nude women, so a lot of women get treated differently when they are here. So the people in these countries feed on violence. And this is coming from Costa Rica which is considered a safer country.
I have also been to all the other countries in Central America, and I can tell you, if you get lost in a bad area, you can get into a lot of trouble quickly. So always pay attention to your surroundings, always use higher cost transportation for safety reasons. And never wear jewelry or clothing that will bring attention to yourself.
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Old Dec 13th, 2010, 03:10 PM
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I have often traveled solo (mostly in Mexico, but also the Caribbean and Europe) but Belize is not a place I'd feel comfortable going on my own, honestly. It's not a matter of "crime is a problem no matter where you go" but Belize is an extremely poor country, which brings problems of its own.

What do you mean you will be "conducting research"? What exactly will you be doing there.
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Old Dec 13th, 2010, 04:58 PM
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I wouldn't feel very safe in Hopkins. I've traveled to a lot of different places in Belize & the Hopkins/Dangriga area was the only place I wasn't comfortable. The severe poverty there is very visible and I felt very out of place. I've been to Costa Rica several times including once on a mission trip to a very poor area and never felt insecure but just driving through Dangriga made my hair stand on end. I would NEVER go there alone. Will others be participating in your research?

While there on business (I'm in the travel trade) a driver from one of the hotels took me from a meeting back to my hotel because I wasn't feeling well. It was dark & only the 2 of us in the van, while driving he asked me if I knew where we were. I became very alarmed & said "excuse me?" He then said, "You don't have any idea where you are right now do you? If I were to pull down one of these side streets you wouldn't know where you were, would you?" I was never so scared in my life. I remembered seeing an Oprah show once where they suggested getting personal with your attacker so I started asking him all kinds of questions. (besides looking around for a weapon) He wound up bringing me back to the hotel but then asked which room I was in because he wanted to walk me to the door. I told him I couldn't remember but could find it on my own & that I wanted a drink at the bar first. Only after I watched him leave did I go to my room.

I'm lucky nothing happened and realize this could have been anywhere but the fact that this man worked for the hotel & still made these comments leaves me feeling weary about the area. The local restaurant where our meeting was held was also unnerving--very seedy and again, I stuck out like a sore thumb. (I don't wear jewelry & always dress appropriately)
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Old Dec 13th, 2010, 05:00 PM
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I am an undergraduate student at the University of New Hampshire and I have received funding to conduct research at the Hamanasi eco-resort. I am studying their "best practices" of sustainability.
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Old Dec 13th, 2010, 05:09 PM
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petite43 that does sound very scary. Were you only in Dangriga? Hopkins is a small village about 40 minutes south of Dangriga. I am working with the owners and managers at the Hamanasi Resort who are acting as my mentors during my research.
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Old Dec 13th, 2010, 05:16 PM
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We've visited Belize twice, 3-4 weeks each time. We haven't had any problems but do follow some general CA safety guidelines which I've pasted below from a previous thread. We particularly love Hopkins Village and have found it to be a friendly place to visit. Some dear friends of ours were Peace Corps volunteers there in the 80s and are still fondly remembered in the community; we get a kick out of meeting their old friends. Have a safe, wonderful trip - happy trails!
_____________________________

Sometimes I travel alone, sometimes with one or more of my kids and/or my husband, sometimes with a group in tow. I don't feel overly paranoid but have never had a problem and would like to keep it that way.

Here are my concessions to safety when I travel in Central America:
:: I avoid the big cities as much as possible
:: I don't "party"
:: Where recommended I take specific transportation (Hedman Alas in Honduras, for example, or avoiding chicken buses on the mountain runs in Guatemala, taxis after dark)
:: I know where I am and where I'm headed
:: I don't wear jewelry (not even my wedding band) and try not to flash camera equipment or money around
:: Some trips I carry a “throw down wallet” with an expired card or 2 and the day’s cash in it
:: I keep important documents and cash under my clothes (except what I need for shopping, buses, etc. for that time period)
:: I ask locals about safety in an area - evenings, hiking, etc.
:: I travel really light so I don't feel vulnerable getting my bag off and on buses, shuttles, etc.
:: I continue to build skills in Spanish (doesn't apply to Belize)
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Old Dec 14th, 2010, 02:30 AM
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The hotel I stayed in was in Hopkins but to get to the meeting I needed to go through Dangriga. I feel better knowing you're going to Hamanasi (I thought maybe you would be out on your own somewhere) I'm sure they will look out for you and give you the do's & dont's of the area. Sounds like a great opportunity...enjoy!

hopefulist: I love your tips, especially the 2nd wallet idea!
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Old Dec 14th, 2010, 03:09 AM
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www.travel.state.gov Belize for a heads up.

there has been an upswing of Mara(gang) related violence

in some areas.. Hopefulist's tips are all great...also

Careful with strangers on buses and at stations

use labeled cabs do not share cabs with strangers.

Overall mostly safe for me if careful but

www.insuremytrip.com always cheap and wise.

Happy Journey,
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Old Dec 14th, 2010, 03:16 AM
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Belize City Bus Station is the worst where "helpful" stangers

will try to befriend you...just do not do it.

Even cute little old ladies can be part of the scam.

Always be willing to say "No Gracias" kindly but firmly

and walk on...
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Old Dec 14th, 2010, 01:16 PM
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EB, You will be fine in Hopkins, its a relatively laid back Garifuna fishing village, close to Sittee River, which is more Creole. Two interesting neighboring cultures, one on the sea and the other on the river. Hamanasi is amongst the better hotels in the village and the owners are good people and Andrew Usher their manager is a fine young man who I'm sure will sort you out properly. Its easy to meet people. Move around the village on a bike or foot. I think you'll be just fine there. Use the same precautions you would at home. Welcome to Belize and good luck with your research.
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Old Dec 14th, 2010, 06:00 PM
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Uh, oh... now I'm nervous! We're staying four nights in Hopkins, and we were looking forward to exploring both communities. I'm thinking now that 4 nights is too many...
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Old Dec 14th, 2010, 07:08 PM
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Not too many for me, Cat! If you tire of the village both the Mayflower site and Cockscomb Jaguar Reserve are close and offer wonderful hiking.
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Old Dec 14th, 2010, 07:20 PM
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So you weren't put off the way the previous posters described, hope?
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Old Dec 14th, 2010, 09:32 PM
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Nope. I've felt that Dangriga was sketchy - we've been there a few times for a meal or enroute to the airport during the day and an hour or so was plenty for us. Hopkins is a completely different world. I get it that scary stuff happens sometimes. I'm careful but not paranoid and will continue to travel in CA because the gain wins out over the risk.
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Old Dec 17th, 2010, 05:03 PM
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My feelings exactly! I have to add that I've never had the impression that the people of Costa Rica "feed on violence". I'm a bit curious about rd's experience in that country, as it differs widely from my own.
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