Where Tourist Flock... So Go The Thieves

Tlacolula market, just as colorful
(William Ing, photo)

Oaxaca is no different than any other tourist mecca: during high season the thieves, robbers and all other modes of scoundrels travel from all points in the country, and converge like fish at a feeding frenzy. While cameras, shorts, and slowly sauntering and gazing are dead giveaways, there are still ways that travelers can protect themselves.

Be extra vigilant while in areas where there is a high volume of pedestrian traffic such as along aisles on town market days (in particular Friday at Ocotlán and Sunday at Tlacolula). Outright avoid Saturday at Oaxaca’s abastos market, and opt for visiting on any other day … it will be just as awe inspiring.

The larger the camera, the more attractive to crooks. Certainly don’t leave home without your Nikon, but keep it in front of you with your hand over the lens, and when you know you won’t be using it for a while, keep it tucked away. It’s better to travel with it in its bag, but put all your equipment in a more non-descript sack. Consider clutching one of the common, large vinyl or potato-sack mesh market bags you’ll see for sale in markeplaces and in other locales.

Never carry your purse simply strung over your shoulder. Once you’ve finished using your wallet, place it deep inside your purse, and never forget to zip up. Once again, remember that the safest place to carry anything, is right in front of you.

While the quality of costume jewelry is ever improving, therefore making it more difficult for robbers to distinguish real from surreal, it’s still always prudent to restrict being flashy, as difficult as it may seem. Save it all for when in the company of friends and relatives you want to impress. Your average working class Oaxacan will already think you’re worth much more than you actually are, so there’s no need for further illustration.

After you’re done using the ATM, while still in front of the machine put the cash in your wallet, purse or pocket. If concerned that you might have been short-changed, count the funds right there in front of the machine, or wait until you’re otherwise in an area or room where others cannot watch those 500’s rolling off your fingers. All the same advice holds true when cashing money at a Casa de Cambio. Counting your money while on the street cannot possibly benefit you.

Travel to Oaxaca can and should be an immensely rewarding and certainly a rich cultural experience. Heed this simple advice, and be assured that your trip will live up to your expectations, without qualification.

Casa Machaya Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast ( http://www.oaxacadream.com ) ©

The Starkman Casa Machaya Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast ( http://www.oaxacadream.com ) combines the best of bed & breakfast Oaxaca with a downtown Oaxaca hotel style characterized by service and comfort. Inquire about Alvin’s Oaxaca tours, completely personalized to meet your specific interests and passions. Alvin is the Oaxaca destinations expert for a major international travel website. Casa Machaya is a founding member of the Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast Association.