Not Getting Robbed in Barrio San Antonio

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Cali has quickly convinced me that Colombia is a special country.

There are a few areas in the city for hostels and hotels but instead of picking the popular partying commune, I chose a neighbourhood that is known for restaurants and art galleries.

Barrio San Antonio is a beautiful colonial part of the city that has a great community feel with friendly locals.

During yet another beautiful sunny day I took a walk with my friend Helen to photograph this area we’ve both come to love.

A few minutes into the walk a local stopped to warn us to be careful with our camera, and then another, and then a few cars stopped to tell us we should be careful.

We thanked them all and moved on, amused by their care and concern.

But then one of the guys who previously warned us drove by again, this time to warn us in English to make sure we understood.

This disturbed us more than anything as we didn’t want anyone following us so we decided we had enough photos and we should head back to ditch this guy.

Later I learned that they all had cause for concern. A Polish girl who has lived here for six months was walking the week prior with two locals.

Also feeling safe she was taking photos of the neighbourhood only to be approached with a man with a gun who robbed all three of them.

Lesson learned. The neighbourhood may appear very safe on the surface but that doesn’t mean there are people who go there to rob tourists.

I’ll travel with my point and shoot in my purse but my DSLR only comes out for events where there is security.

Join the Conversation

  1. Michael Hodson says:

    Wonderful pictures, as usual. I like the scrolling photo stream. Trying to sort out what I’m going to do on my site now.

  2. ann wellwood says:

    Be careful!!Having that many people warning you must mean something!!!

  3. I know it is a part of travelling but it makes my heart hurt that these thing happen….

  4. Very nice of the locals to warn you, just shows there are two sides to everywhere

  5. Good thing you didn’t get robbed! What lovely photos. 🙂

  6. Always a challenge when travelling to gauge things correctly – to avoid being limited by the overcautious while at the same time staying safe. Stay safe!

  7. We don’t need you getting your camera stolen again. Unless it is me and you have the lenses I really like on it.

    I just hope you learned your lesson from last time and erase the pics from your camera. Don’t need the pics of you in your lesbian bondage gear leaked out again.

  8. Ayngelina Author says:

    @Ryan thank you again for generating traffic but writing pervy comments on my blog.

  9. Tandem World says:

    As unfortunate as it is that one has to be so careful when traveling (hell, one is smart to be so careful all the time), it is heartening to hear that so many people where concerned with your safety.

    Good to see you were still able to snap some great photos!

  10. It’s so easy to get paranoid isn’t it? Especially when there’s good reason. I think it’s a good plan to have a back up option. I often just use my cameraphone if I’m not sure about an area.

  11. Migrationology says:

    Too bad the neighborhood isn’t safer, but sometimes it seems that the most interesting/entertaining places in a city are the areas that aren’t so safe. Very nice pictures!

  12. We had the same thing happen in Peru. We were walking around a nice town taking photos and everyone kept warning us that we should not be there. Finally a guy started chasing us with a whistle blowing. He followed us all the way to our guest house, where we found out that he was security and was making sure that nobody robbed us. We found out that people had been robbed at knife point just a couple of days earlier.
    Everyone was constantly warning us to be careful in Peru, nothing happened luckily, but we know that it can and we all have to be careful. Glad it turned out ok for you.

  13. I know what your saying about locals in Colombia always worried for the tourist here. People go out of their way to inform you of dangers and i guess it says two things:
    1) that they care for tourists enough to let them know local info on an area
    2) that you can’t take for granted where you are and that some places are still dodgy in this country.

    Over all i like it when locals warn me and most times i will listen when someone tells me not to talk down this street with my camera. I have even had police ride up on moto-bikes here in Medellin, warn me, then follow me around a few blocks as i finished up just to make sure i was ok. Kind cool in one way and bad in another. But i think it’s about not looking like a tourists and not flashing the camera, as in i keep mine in my bag when not in use and only take it out for a quick shot here and there. I use a large DSLR camera as well and it’s hard not to take a photo with it and not stand out… but i don’t want to loose those moments for good photos either. It’s the all time catch 22! jajajaja

  14. nice post. we had a similar thing happen in valparaiso. within 5 minutes at least 4 people had warned us to put the camera away. some of them had even gone out of their way to approach us, like crossing the street and stuff. sucks when it happens in such beautiful places!

  15. A similar situation happened to me in Lima, Peru. I was approached a couple times being warned about jeopardizing my safety by showing my DSLR. Even a municipal cop came to chat with me in a friendly manner with the intention of warning me about common thefts. At that point I had to take it seriously and exchanged my DSLR with my point-and-shoot.

    Like you, I felt very grateful for all the people that warned me, but at the same time… wow, it’s a shame that great places like these have such a “bad reputation”.

    In the end nothing happened, but I think it was in part of me “respecting” their concerns and avoiding the places they told me not to go.

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