Friday, November 14, 2014

Tip of the Day: Prepare for the Worst When Traveling in Rural Areas, Checkpoints

Before you travel into rural areas in developing countries and particularly police checkpoints, please review the link below:

http://www.transparency.org

Transparency International and its 2013 Corruption Perception Index, which is an annual global comparative study of 175 nations worldwide begins with Denmark at a rating of 91 and Somalia at a variable of 8:

http://www.2013CPIbrochure_en.pdf

If you're unfamiliar with the term "back-shesh,"see the below:

http://freefactfinder.com/definition/Backshesh

If you are traveling in a developing nation such as Kenya, for instance, and encounter police checkpoints, my suggestion is that you carry a good number of packages of cigarettes or candy to handout to police you might encounter along the way.

You’ll quickly discover that the cigarettes are an “immediate crowd pleaser” and may get you through checkpoints easier and faster than not.

On the other hand, you can try offering no gratuities at all; just let me know how it works out for you.

A bit of a side note for your due consideration: Rebels and thugs often set up their own “check-points” in rural, isolated areas, so my suggestion is that you prepared to keep them satisfied. If not, they may alternatively choose to abduct you for a few hours and swing by a nearby ATM for good measure:).

Before traveling into rural, isolated and often lawless areas, I suggest that you talk to credible locals who know the countryside and solicit their advice as to how you should conduct yourself at checkpoints, particularly if they’re manned by smugglers, thugs and the like.

If you are working in rural areas in a high-risk country where armed carjacking is commonplace or where foreigners may be subjected to abduction, kidnapping, extortion, rape, etc., discuss the possibility of using a convoy (whereby all vehicles can communicate with one another), hiring competent and reputable armed security escorts, or even using ballistic-resistant vehicles, if they are not provided to you.

Conversely, if you are traveling on your own and do not have those types of resources available to you, I strongly suggest that you reread some of the cases earlier in this book that spoke of murder and abduction of people who made road trips in dangerous areas (e.g., Tom Hargrove and the American birdwatchers, who were abducted and held by the Colombian FARC for over a year and the Mormon missionary who was shot and killed while on a bus bound for México).

Before traveling by road in any high-risk, developing country, I suggest you do the following:

1. Obtain road maps and topographical maps of the areas you’ll be traveling in;

2. Contact your nearest embassy or consulate and request security advice on the threats you may face; if you are told that diplomats and foreigners are prohibited from traveling in that area, my suggestion is that you adhere to good advice;

3. Register with your embassy, and advise the officials where you will be staying and how they can reach you;

4. Ensure you have your vehicle’s registration and proof of insurance;

5. Carry a mobile phone that functions in the area and extra batteries;

6. Carry a pair of binoculars so you can observe the legitimacy of checkpoints before you get so close to them that you have few options;

7. Talk to tourist police or border patrol agents and obtain their phone numbers of their stations in the area that you will be visiting;

8. Know where the hospitals are and have their phone numbers; identify on your maps;

9. Ensure that you refill your gas tank before you leave and fill it up when it reaches half-a-tank;

10. Carry extra water, food and flashlights with batteries;

11. Learn what police and military uniforms look like and how foreigners are treated at government checkpoints;

12. Ask credible locals whether bribes are solicited at check-points;

13.  Carry your passports and photocopies of your passports and entry visas, but surrender only the copies at checkpoints;

14. Carry cash to cover emergencies, and hide most of it (in your shoe, a zippered ankle sock and/or a money belt, etc.); and most important;

15. Always STOP at check-points, regardless of who is managing them! Driving hastily through any check-point is pretty much a guarantee that you'll be fired upon for your lack of prudence!

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