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PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS ABOUT TRAVEL, THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES AND SURVIVAL

Guillermo D. Jalil, M.S.

  • Complexity of modern systems in third world environments lead to unreliability and fragility.  Your ATM card means nothing.  The man wants his money and he's not buying your story.

  • Banks are a trap; not a resource for answers.

  • Bank privacy is a farce in third world countries. 

  • Most humans turn into animals when faced with scarcity of resources. 

  • Life & Death and the Rule of 3's; 3 minutes without air, 3-8 hours without shelter, 3 hours to 3 days without potable water, 3 weeks without food.  When the Rule of 3 is in play, the presence of desperate people can be as deadly as a lack of air.  Those 3 minutes mean the difference between life and death.

  • The average American carries at least one full meal in their digestive tract even on an empty stomach.  Focus on shelter and water first.  The food can wait.

  • Clean water will avoid most illnesses that will kill you in a third world country.  Diarrhea is the most dangerous and insidious enemy. 

  • One skin cut you cannot clean = Fever, infection or death

  • Cleanliness and first aid are as important as food and shelter.

  • In the case of killer jock itch or athletes foot, and there's no antifungal medication available, use baking soda diluted in water.  If that's not available, Lysol works just fine.  Use sparingly.

  • People run in packs and they target the weakest one of any group.  If you ever watched television shows of lions hunting a gazelle, this is an example of how criminals hunt their victims.  Criminals usually run in groups of two to four people.  They see you as the gazelle.

  • Packs of people follow the path of least resistance.

  • After a crisis, the first roaming group of gangs are disorganized and meandering.  They show up within two weeks of a breakdown.  Within six weeks, the gangs are organized, focused and ruthless. 

  • The countryside is safer than urban or suburban areas.

  • Find a group.  Don't go it alone. 

  • Don't be part of the problem.

  • Skills > Stuff

  • The same stuff x 3 (matches, lighters, water filters, food) in several different places > The same amount of stuff in one location.

  • Skills + Stuff = Success/Survival

  • Stuff - Skills = Failure/Death

  • Self deception = Failure/Death

  • Paper based information > Digital information

  • Locals who are willing to help you > Paper based information + Digital Information

  • Stuff > Ideas

  • Mobile > Stationary

  • Lightweight that requires less effort and less potable water > Heavy and requires more potable water; when water is scarce.

  • Light items that can be traded (candles, flashlights) > Heavy equipment such as a generator

  • Most meals in third world countries involve only one type of food.  Bananas for lunch or Sorghum grain once a day.  Most times, people don't have a choice.

  • It's common for food to disappear without warning.  When this occurs, look for abandoned farms of avocados, wild bananas, etc.

  • Old ways and old things > New ways and new things.  This is why Mexico manufactured the VW Beetle until 2003.  The car is air cooled.  For those who lived in the "Old Country," this is responsible for them thinking only in one way.  For them, there's only one answer and one of thinking.  They don't consider experimenting because there's no room for error.  Resources are tight.

  • The locals often believe there isn't a solution to every problem.  They believe that the key is to avoid making problems.  There are good reasons for adopting this belief system.

  • Reason is scarce among the masses.  Don't expect others to be reasonable when facing scarcity.  For those accustomed to scarcity, there's no panic.  For those accustomed to abundance, panic often sets in when facing this harsh new reality.  First world citizens tend to panic in Third World countries when the First World facade is torn away (hotel, tour guide, supply deliveries).

  • Civilized behavior is a disguise in times of plenty.  Tourists degrade to the same animalistic tendencies when faced with unpleasant realities.

  • Dry food + bottle of potable water > Wet food + clean water.  Potable water and shelf life rules the day.

  • Short term planning > Long term planning.  Long term planning is greater than one week.

  • Dominant personalities and groups operate on the same presumptions similar to those who live in prison.  This is because many third world territories are a prison for those who live within those borders. 

  • Debt = slavery.  Don't borrow what you can't repay.  Don't owe anyone. 

  • You will be baited into a debt that you cannot repay.  Be careful to what you agree.

  • Making eye contact with authority is a perceived as a personal challenge.

  • If you are identified as an American and you overstay your welcome, someone from the dominant group may want to teach you a lesson.  They often desire to project the idea that you can't do what you want in their backyard.  Your stay may be longer than you planned. 

  • When the above rules appear normal to you, then that's when they've assimilated you into their way of thinking and living.  You are now part of the problem.

  • Shut up, watch, listen and move purposefully.  Even when walking to the corner and back, do it with a purpose.

  • The bigger the smile, the larger the knife.

  • A car registration is only as valuable as those who respect it.

  • When in doubt, be polite, be careful, and think twice. 

  • Don't feel awkward if people don't smile back or wave back.  It's likely they have nothing to smile about.  It may not be in their culture to smile.  Optimism isn't shared by the masses.

  • If you're visiting an Eastern European country or Russia, don't smile. They think people who smile are crazy, fake or an idiot.  Children are the exception.

  • When you return, don't expect friends and family to relate to your experiences.

  • Railroad tracks are the most dangerous places.  They are filled with drug addicts, murderers and thieves.

  • When in doubt, ride in the Toyota.

  • The Toyotas from the USA make their way to third world countries. They are used as taxis 24/7, and often reach 500,000 miles without a problem.  What most Americans sell off at 100,000 miles is a car considered almost-new South of the border.

  • Know where your embassy is located down to the address. 

  • Upon returning to the United States, the best meal is a bacon double cheeseburger, cheese fries and a chocolate malt.

  • Before you return to the USA, be sure to have the contact information for a reliable doctor from the area you just left.  If you have worms in the soles of your feet, or were bitten by an insect you don't recognize, the US doctors won't know what to do.

  • Large gatherings are almost always a problem.

  • If you're nervous about security, hire a uniformed police officer for the day.

  • A taxi is anyone who has a car.

  • If you have a choice, don't choose the taxi without air conditioning.  If he doesn't have it on, it's because it doesn't work.

  • Expect a car, human, a mule or other dangerous object to be in the middle of the road when going around a blind turn, over a hill; and at the most inconvenient and dangerous moment.  Why?  Well, why not?

There are many more suggestions from others.  The above are just a few to consider.

Contact Guillermo D Jalil, at USA@BlueDeltaInvestigations.com

 

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