The Difference of Being Unsafe or Feeling Unsafe Abroad
Guest Post by Gerard Allard
Safety! This has been a constant discussion when Canadians, Americans and Europeans travel and think of the possibility of living a life in an exotic land with different customs and cultures. How do you define safety? Is it how we feel or is it by the number of times that crimes have been committed that we have personally experienced? If we lived in a very unsafe environment then it would be defined by our experiences. Most of us are lucky to define safety by how we generally feel in our environment and not by our daily experiences. How we feel is usually by us trying to make sense of information that we have heard from other people via the media or the fine art of pyramid style storytelling with facts that drift in all sorts of directions.
Well after twenty five years on the streets of Winnipeg Canada as a Police Officer I feel I know what crime looks like, smells like and feels like. Over the years I have built upon my perception of safety away from Canada starting as a frequent flyer tourist to Mexico and now as a full time resident of Puerto Vallarta. The problem is that it is my perception and not yours. So all the experts on safety cannot really change how you feel. Only you can say how you feel and to change how we feel will take positive experiences and knowing the community that you are in.
When I started coming here 10 years ago I was like everybody else. I heard that Mexico was run by the drug cartel and the corrupt government was in their pocket. I had also had heard of the terrible stories that have occurred in Mexico. So when I first ventured off the safe compounds of our resort I started looking for all of these horrible criminal element’s and felt that for sure that some sort of crime was just around every corner. Well I have to tell you nothing ever happened. Each time out I became a little more adventurous and yet Mr. Cartel never showed up. Now I am not saying that it is perfect here with their society but I can say that the symptoms of all of their social problems do not interact with my life here.
In an attempt to help people understand the difference between being unsafe and feeling unsafe I have created my own Mexican Personal Safety Questionnaire which is a list of questions you have to ask yourself as in the end it will be about your own perception of personal safety and not anyone else.
- When you hear of a horrendous crime that has occurred in your home city, state or province but not in your neighborhood do you automatically feel unsafe?
- If no, is it because you have an intimate knowledge of your city, state or province and you know that the crime location is a place that you will never frequent?
- Do you avoid certain neighbor hoods in your home city?
- If the answer to your question above is yes, do you feel you have to leave your home city, province or state to live a more safe life?
- When people ask you why you travel or live in your chosen destination do they make negative safety statements using specific location in this country?
- If the answer to the above question is a no then do they just say the specific country or continent?
If your answers are similar to those answers that I have provided I would say that you as an individual will feel safe in most environments that you chose to live or vacation as it appears that you are using common sense to create your perception. You also have the ability to transfer your own understanding of your personal safety from your American, Canadian or European home to your new environment. With this logic you will understand that crimes that occurred miles away does not make you unsafe where you are at this moment. You also understand if you do not play in the underworld of drugs and prostitution that the chances are slim that bad things will happen to you just like back in your home land.
If your answers are not similar to this article’s answer key then I would say you are allowing general negative comments to cloud your perception and you are not transferring the same logic you use back in your home community. It is also possible that you have generally experienced a traumatic criminal act on your person and that has understandably impacted your perception of your personal safety.
Give this some thought and you will come to your own conclusions. I personally feel that I am safe here in Puerto Vallarta however I need to exercise common sense at all times. I believe that this rational can be used all over the world. I will leave you with this one thought, “ When out in public and away from your safety bubble please keep your eyes, ears open and mind engaged “.
After 25 years Gerard Allard left Policing in 2012 and became a Realtor and is now practicing his new chosen career at Timothy Real Estate Group in Bucerias Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta Jalisco. Please feel free to call or email Gerard with any real estate needs or safety questions (firstname.lastname@example.org or 322-149-2045). Play Safe!
[Image courtesy of shutterstock © Lightspring1]