Colombia

South American Crime Prevention Advice

South American Crime Prevention Advice 620 465 Greg Ellifritz

Everything you need to know about keeping safe comes down to recognizing toads and papaya.

 

I was reminded of this fact when I read the article linked below.  Check it out.  The woman’s partner won a lawsuit settlement.  He posted some pictures of the cash settlement on social media.  Some bad dudes saw the money and decided to rob him.  Three people broke into the man’s house, killed his female partner and stole all the money.

Woman shot dead after money flaunted on social media

 

What does that have to do with toads and papaya?

 

I spend a lot of time in South America.  Each country down there has its own cute or funny sayings.  They are called dichos in Spanish.  These dichos are usually witty statements that offer life advice.  I’ve grown fond of learning some of the dichos from the countries I visit.

 

In Peru there is a saying; “Hay sapos.”  Literally it means “There are toads.”

 

The “toads” my Peruvian friends are talking about are people who silently observe your activity and provide that information to others.  There are always “toads” watching your every move.

 

Peruvians use “hay sapos” as a caution to people handling money in public.  There are always “toads” watching for easy victims.  You may not see the sapos, but rest assured that they will be present.  Exercise caution.  The toads may not rob you, but they will certainly provide your information to someone who will for a little bit of cash.

 

If the guy in the link above had recognized that there are always “toads” watching, he probably wouldn’t have carelessly flashed his wad of money on social media.

 

A second pertinent dicho comes from Colombia.

 

The locals there have a descriptive term for people who do things which make it easy for a criminal to victimize them. Colombians call it “dar papaya.”

 

The term literally means “to give papaya.” In other words, you are so vulnerable it’s like giving the criminal a sweet treat. It’s the Colombian equivalent of the term “like taking candy from a baby.”  You are making it exceptionally easy for a criminal to target you when you “dar papaya.”

 

That’s what the guy did when he flashed his money.  The sapos saw his post and informed the robbers.  The robbers thought he was an easy target.  He gave them some papaya.  They took it and ran.

 

 

The next time you post on social media, think about the toads.  Don’t give them any papaya.

 

 

 

South American Gun Laws

South American Gun Laws 702 501 Greg Ellifritz

Many of my readers are interested in firearms and self defense.  I regularly encounter Americans who believe that citizens of other countries can’t legally own defensive firearms.  That opinion is incorrect.

While gun ownership in countries outside the USA is generally a for more involved process than what is required to buy a gun in the USA, citizens of many other countries can own (and sometimes carry) firearms if they jump through all the right hoops.

I found the article below to be an informative comparison of gun laws in six large Latin American countries.  If you are interested in the gun laws in South America, check it out.

 

Gun Laws in Latin America’s Six Largest Economies

 

You may also enjoy Revolver Guy’s article Guns in Brazil.

 

Travel Log- Colombia

Travel Log- Colombia 2560 1920 Greg Ellifritz

*My Travel Log series describes various past travel adventures and provides perspective about living and traveling in different countries.  This particular segment covers a trip to Colombia in 2013.

 

I just spent the last couple weeks doing some adventure travel through Colombia.  It had been one of the few South American countries that I hadn’t visited.  While there I checked out Bogota, Medellin, Santa Marta, the Tyrona National Park, and Cartagena.  I paraglided for the first time, hiked, swam, body surfed, and attempted to experience as much of the local culture as possible.

 

Colombia has changed drastically from the days of FARC and Pablo Escobar’s narcotraficantes.  It is one of the safer Latin American countries I’ve visited.  The people are very pleasant and the police are professional.  I would highly encourage those of you with an adventurous spirit to check the country out.

 

Since this website is primarily about self defense, firearms, and training issues; I’ll stop rambling about my travel adventures.  I will share some photos that you might find interesting….

 

From the National Police Museum in Bogota, some guns you’ve probably never seen:

 

The most obscure collection of break-top revolvers I’ve ever seen.

 

The local slang for this one is “chongo”…a home made pistol. One of the reasons why gun control laws will never be effective.

 

Custom stainless steel Iver Johnson Enforcer with an M-2 full auto switch

 

A 28 gauge revolving shotgun

 

Since we are talking guns, you may be interested to know what the locals carry.  The national police carry SigPro 9mm pistols in Blackhawk Serpa holsters.  More than half of the National Police (there are no local police forces) in Bogota also carried Galil (an Israeli version of the AK-47) rifles.  The cops in Cartagena carried M-16 A-2s as a supplement to their Sigs, but the M-16 had an empty magazine inserted and a visible yellow empty chamber flag!

 

All the cops are also armed with a PR-24 style baton, handcuffs, and a radio.  That’s it.  Most of them carry empty spare magazine pouches at the small of their backs.  I never saw any cops with full magazine pouches.

 

Explosives Detection cops on random patrol in Bogota. Note the empty mag pouches on the belt of the cop on the right.

 

The national police around the Presidential Palace carry HK G-36 rifles instead of the Galil.

 

I saw several citizens walking the streets of Bogota with pepper spray in hand and even saw one young man working the front desk of a hotel with an ASP baton sticking out of his jacket pocket.  Security guards were almost always armed with 4″ S&W revolvers, although I saw a few 3″ round butt J-frames on some security guards’ belts.  All the security guards had cartridge loops sewn to the outside of their nylon belt holsters.  The loops were full of round nosed lead .38 special ammo.

 

According to the police with whom I spoke, it is relatively easy for a citizen to get a gun permit down there.  The guns are limited depending on geographical location.  In the cities,  people can get permits only for handguns.  Rifles and shotguns are not allowed.  In the rural countryside where hunting is common, “almost everyone” has a long gun, but pistols are prohibited.

 

Very different gun laws as compared to the USA, but unlike many foreign nations, in Colombia there is some ability for the “average Joe” to at least own (if not carry) a firearm.

 

 

 

Medellin, Colombia

 

 

First Aid for Sand Fly Bites

First Aid for Sand Fly Bites 960 720 Greg Ellifritz

If you travel to tropical environments (especially to beach areas in those environments) you are likely to encounter various insect bites.  The article below describes some of the likely suspects and goes over some useful treatment protocols.

 

Sand Fleas and Flies

 

I’ve had quite a bit of experience dealing with sand fly bites in the Caribbean, Egypt, and South America.  Besides the advice provided in the linked article above, I have a few more suggestions.

 

If the hydrocortisone cream recommended in the article isn’t stopping the itch, you could also try a topical corticosteroid called triamcinolone.  It is commonly sold in foreign pharmacies and is more potent than the OTC hydrocortisone you can buy here in the States.  The triamcinolone shouldn’t be used on sensitive areas of the body (genitals, face, etc.) because it may cause irritation or skin thickening.  I’m not a doctor and this isn’t medical advice, but I’ve had good luck with this product if OTC hydrocortisone fails.

 

If the rash persists for more than a couple days, visit a doctor.  You may also check out the local pharmacy.  In most countries in the developing world, pharmacies sell tubes of combination steroid/anti-fungal/antibiotic creams over the counter.  That makes a precise diagnosis unnecessary if you can’t make it to the doctor.  No matter what is causing the skin irritation, these multidrug creams take care of the problem.

 

If itching insect bites or rashes are driving you crazy and you have no medication, try hot water. Place the affected area under water (as hot as you can stand) for three to five minutes.  The hot water might neutralize the toxins that cause the rash.  The effect is only temporary, however.  You may need to repeat the process every couple hours.  Ammonia may also work to temporarily relieve the itching from some bites.

The author of the linked article wrote a book called Survival Medicine.  Check it out if you are looking for more medical information.  It is an excellent reference.

 

 

My arm after sleeping on the beach in a hammock in Colombia.  Unfortunately the hammock’s mosquito net was made for Colombian-sized people. When your limbs touch the net, the sandflies just chew right through…and yes, I was wearing DEET.

 

 

Some of the above links (from Amazon.com) are affiliate links.   As an Amazon associate I earn a small percentage of the sale price from qualifying purchases.

Travel Log- Colombia

Travel Log- Colombia 300 225 Greg Ellifritz

*My Travel Log series describes various past travel adventures and provides perspective about living and traveling in different countries.  This particular segment covers a trip through Colombia in 2012.

 

I just spent the last couple weeks doing some adventure travel through Colombia.  It had been one of the few South American countries that I hadn’t visited.  While there I checked out Bogota, Medellin, Santa Marta, the Tyrona National Park, and Cartagena.  I paraglided for the first time, hiked, swam, body surfed, and attempted to experience as much of the local culture as possible.

 

Colombia has changed drastically from the days of FARC and Pablo Escobar’s narcotraficantes.  It is one of the safer Latin American countries I’ve visited.  The people are very pleasant and the police are professional.  I would highly encourage those of you with an adventurous spirit to check the country out.  If you are interested in a local guide, shoot me an email.  I can heartily recommend the services of a friend who is a professional tour guide down there.

 

Since this website is primarily about self defense, firearms, and training issues; I’ll stop rambling about my travel adventures.  I will share some photos that you might find interesting….

 

From the National Police Museum in Bogota, some guns you’ve probably never seen:

 

The most obscure collection of break-top revolvers I’ve ever seen.

 

The local slang for this one is “chongo”…a home made pistol. One of the reasons why gun control laws will never be effective.

 

Custom stainless steel Iver Johnson Enforcer with an M-2 full auto switch

 

A 28 gauge revolving shotgun

 

Since we are talking guns, you may be interested to know what the locals carry.  The national police carry SigPro 9mm pistols in Blackhawk Serpa holsters.  More than half of the National Police (there are no local police forces) in Bogota also carried Galil (an Israeli version of the AK-47) rifles.  The cops in Cartagena carried M-16 A-2s as a supplement to their Sigs, but the M-16 had an empty magazine inserted and a visible yellow empty chamber flag!

 

All the cops are also armed with a PR-24 style baton, handcuffs, and a radio.  That’s it.  Most of them carry empty spare magazine pouches at the small of their backs.  I never saw any cops with full magazine pouches.

 

Explosives Detection cops on random patrol in Bogota. Note the empty mag pouches on the belt of the cop on the right.

 

The national police around the Presidential Palace carry HK G-36 rifles instead of the Galil.

 

I saw several citizens walking the streets of Bogota with pepper spray in hand and even saw one young man working the front desk of a hotel with an ASP baton sticking out of his jacket pocket.  Security guards were almost always armed with 4″ S&W revolvers, although I saw a few 3″ round butt J-frames on some security guards’ belts.  All the security guards had cartridge loops sewn to the outside of their nylon belt holsters.  The loops were full of round nosed lead .38 special ammo.

 

According to the police with whom I spoke, it is relatively easy for a citizen to get a gun permit down there.  The guns are limited depending on geographical location.  In the cities,  people can get permits only for handguns.  Rifles and shotguns are not allowed.  In the rural countryside where hunting is common, “almost everyone” has a long gun, but pistols are prohibited.

 

Medellin, Colombia