Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Péru: Update--California Cyclists Thought To Be Missing, Safely Found on River Boat Bound for Ecuador

As a follow-up to my previous postings, and according to Reuters, and after the families of Californians Jamie Neal and Garrett Hand, both 25, insisted the couple had "disappeared," the two were found on a river boat destined for Ecuador, seemingly shocked that Peruvian police were turning the region upside down looking for them.

For background, please see my previous postings.

COMMENT: Although Peruvian authorities are to be commended for their exemplary efforts in finding the two Americans, who told police their were in "good health," the lesson learned in this case is that travelers who choose to travel aimlessly around the world, need to exercise some responsibility in advising family when they're not going to have access to Internet communications.

Such responsibility as proposed above would be an excellent way in avoiding cost-prohibitive searches in developing countries that they can hardly afford such efforts, particularly when those being searched for are not "missing" at all. 

As most of us now know, after communicating every few days on Facebook since they left on their cycling trip through South America in November, without an explanation, they fall out of contact with family and friends for nearly a month. 

Considering that the US Embassy in Lima issued a travel warning for Cuzco and Machu Picchu on February 13, urging Americans to avoid the area, it is understandable why the families of the two cyclists thought they may have been kidnapped. 

Another facet of the "search" for the two Americans, who were not missing at all, is that Jeff Jerge, owner of The Pedaler Bicycle Shop in El Sobrante, CA, raised a reward of $4,000 for information that might lead to the whereabouts of his former employee [Neal], who had worked at his shop for 2.5 years as a bike mechanic. 

Presumably, Jeff will now have to return the donations, considering that the couple never was "missing" after all.

As a final note, traveling throughout South America via bicycle is something that young adults could safely and comfortably do in the 1960s, yet the world is much more perilous than it was then.

In today's world, just given the calamities described in my roughly 1,800 postings in recent years, biking South America can only be described as "living on the edge." 

During my years as the US Department of State's associate director of security for Latin America, I religiously urged US diplomats headed abroad not to travel by bicycle. FYI: I say this is as an avid cyclist.