Sometimes when I watch the evening news, I think to myself, "The world is falling apart." I suppose therapists occasionally wonder why "everyone" is unhappy. Or maybe police officers become jaded and figure "nobody" is trustworthy anymore.
In all three cases, the view is obviously skewed. Conclusions are being drawn hastily based on a very narrow view of the big picture--in other words, on a biased sample.
And that's a bit how I feel after reading all the posts about the perceived dangers in BsAs. I recented visited the city for the first time, and relied on this outstandingly informative forum to prepare myself. After reading the many well-intentioned, and much appreciated, warnings about things to guard against, I began to second-guess my choice of destinations. I grew so nervous, in fact, that I ordered an expensive PacSafe backpack to ward off thieves, and even bought some new, less American-looking clothes to help me appear less like a tourist--- two things I had never previously done.
I'm not prone to overreactions. And I can take care of myself-- I'm over 6' tall, in my early 40s, in good shape, a former police detective, and a seasoned world traveler. During 25 years of international travel to more than 30 countries, I've never experienced a loss, theft, or assault, although I suspect I headed off one or two imminent attempts along the way. The point is, I ordinarily have no reason to be overly cautious... common sense has always served me well.
Yet after reading so many references here to safety concerns, I actually arrived at EZE mildly paranoid. Throughout my first couple of days in BsAs, I watched people on the metro like a hawk. I clutched my bag close to me at all times, and stood back from the roadway to avoid thieves on motorcycles. I kept an eye toward the sky to make sure no one hovered above, about to spray "bird poop" on me. I stashed my camera in my bag after every photo so as to minimize its visibility, and used a "decoy" wallet with no more than 100 pesos in it-- while the rest of my cash was safely tucked in a concealed pouch under my jeans.
As time went by, I felt embarrassed. The Argentine people I met were all, to a person, warm and hospitable. They gladly answered all my questions and patiently explained things I didn't understand. The taxi drivers I encountered were professional-- honest and efficient. My time in Buenos Aires (and in Iguazu and Colonia del Sacramento) all passed without ANY problems.
Don't get me wrong... I know unfortunate things happen, and that in a forum such as this it's important to report them as a warning to others. Some of you might suggest that I had no problems precisely BECAUSE all the posts here put me effectively on guard.
But it takes a lot for me-- a relatively calm and confident traveler-- to become unduly nervous, instead of excited, about visiting someplace new. And one of the joys of traveling is meeting new people, embracing new cultures and opportunities, and in return sharing some of yourself with the people you meet along the way. And I don't think you can effectively do that if you sense danger at every corner.
So I'm merely suggesting that perhaps we would all do well to take a deep breath and remind ourselves that, despite what we see on the news (or in this forum), the world is NOT falling apart, people ARE generally happy and friendly, and yes-- most people are still honest and trustworthy. Visit Buenos Aires. Make friends. Enjoy yourself. I certainly did!