It was almost 6 months ago when I headed off to South America to teach, travel and learn to tango. I’d been talking about going for a solid 6 months before I went (not counting the 6 years I spent dreaming about it). When I mentioned to people that South America was where I wanted to go, the overall reaction was somewhat negative- warnings of the dangers of going alone, being a young woman etc. A few people even asked whether I would consider South East Asia instead/as well. I have considered for a very brief time going to South East Asia, and decided on No for a number of reasons- I can’t speak any Asian language (the language barrier is important for me to overcome, as I discovered in Brazil (https://karensdestinationunknown.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/the-language-barrier/)), Asia was never really anywhere I’d fancied going, and I consider Asia to be more dangerous than South America. I haven’t met anyone else who shares that view, people have actually told me they would happily go to Asia alone but would be far too scared to go to South America on their own.
What I discovered when I was there was that South America is no more or no less safe than anywhere else in the world, although there were a few places where I didn’t feel 100% safe (https://karensdestinationunknown.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/personal-safety-in-south-america/). I have recently been offered a job in Barcelona, Spain, and no one is warning me of the dangers there. What dangers? It’s Europe, so it’s obviously 100% safe, right? Probably wrong. From what I’ve read (despite having previously lived in Spain, I have never ventured over to the Catalonian capital of Barcelona), the city is rife with pick-pocketers. Pick-pocketing is also one of the main dangers of the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, so I was warned.
I’ve been wondering why no one has really mentioned the dangers that I could face when living in Barcelona. The only explanation I can come up with is the misconceptions and preconceptions people have of certain places. You see, the people that warned me of the dangers of South America were people who had never actually been there. A lot of people I know have actually been to Barcelona at least once. None of those are warning me against pick-pocketers or anything else.
So maybe people should stop judging places they’ve never experienced before. When in Barcelona, I will be vigilant and aware, just as I was in South America. If I feel I can relax and take my phone out in public or not wear a money belt, then I will. And I will also stop being judgemental of the safety of South East Asia too!