How To Be Prepared

peterchristopher's picture

Anyone who lives in Central America, or in any other semi-dangerous place (including many places in the U.S.) is probably wise to be prepared in some ways for potential encounters with criminals. You may choose to have a gun in your home, or with you at all times, or not at all. You may choose to be prepared to fight or be prepared to run or be prepared to hand over whatever you have. Probably no answer fits all the situations. But one thing I believe is that by reading other people's stories we can help ourselves be somewhat prepared. You may want to subscribe to the yahoo group crimeincr or something similar. Here are also a few links to an incident to think about. This particular incident happened in the Philippines, but the same thing happens every day in every country in Central America. How can a person avoid this happening? And if it does happen, what will you do? The story: The follow up:


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Fools and their money

First, the guy that wrote this: is a raging fool who will most likely be sent home in a casket one day. And if he acted that way in most Central American countries...chasing down the thieves and telling them "No! I won't give you my money" as they hold a gun to him, he'd likely be shot and they would abscond with the money anyway. Then, they might even murder his wife as a witness, because a lot of these people can be gang members who really don't give a shit about you or your money. As a matter of fact, they may have recently been deported and hate you because they blame all Anglos for their misery.

REALLY REALLY STUPID to challenge these types! MUCH WISER to only carry what you need or can afford to lose, and only keep $5 in your wallet at any time, with the rest hidden. But this raging John Wayne wannabe will die someday over a piddly chunk of change.

What is mordida? It is the small amount you pay so that you don't have to go through paying a great deal more in court administration fees, or lose time filing a case that will most likely demand numerous visits. In the U.S. we don't pay mordida, we pay thousands of dollars in court costs, mandated classes, and other fees associated with various "infractions." For instance, in a domestic dispute, the husband is mandated to pay court fees, take anger management classes that he neither wants or that will cure his abusive tendencies. If a person is caught drinking and driving, they pay court fees, take various driving classes and classes for alcohol addiction. And for other offenses there are other classes that do not fix the problem but cost thousands of dollars. If you ask me, since these classes do not fix our social ills, but just create revenue, the mordida system is a great deal more intelligent. It is not a Honduras word, it is widely known throughout Latin America because it is a social norm and many Latin Americans feel they would rather pay mordida, and that it is MUCH less costly and MUCH more intelligent than the U.S. court system of assigned fees for nothing.

Peter, I had to laugh about your assumption that Central Americans find people who treat animals with a kind hand to be weak. My husband rescues dogs where ever he goes. He has kicked men who kicked dogs...particularly one that kicked our dog one time (where my husband kicked this man so hard he collapsed to the ground.) I have known hardened gang members who will kill over their animals and treat these animals with much greater affection than humans. I think it depends on the person, if they will be assumed as weak. There are many Central Americans who love animals more than people. My mother in law is one. IF you hurt an animal in front of her, she'll risk her life telling you what a "gusano come mierda" you are, and she doesn't normally use those words! Don't confuse the rancheros for the norm in people in Central America. They are two different types. I'm not much on rancheros for this reason. They may be nice, but they are often vulgar and coarse in their approach to life.



 this is all sad. why don't

 this is all sad. why don't people co-operate rather then try to dominate? 


if everyone got together to create a socialist community, rather then be at odds with one another, society would become far greater than any america or europe. why don't people work together to do good things? it's simpler then its made out to be.


if people dropped the concept of money, and realised that it is their labour which produces life. money is a fictional object created by coloniser's. forget about money people, and work together! a sustainable life can be provided by all for all.


It translates to a little bite, which you probably knew, and means a"bribe." I don't know if that is Honduran-specific or not. A common way to ask for a bribe is to ask for "algo para frescos" which means "a little something for soft drinks." Often, though, the amount in mind is much more than Coca Cola money!

murder rates

This fabulous Wikipage has murder rates since 2008 for many countries, for comparison purposes.


As my father said, "S*** or get off the pot"

I originally read one post on a Costa Rica Living site. (
I made the following comments that are I believe still listed on Costa Rica Living:

Here are my comments:

Hi Henry,

I don't know you, and so forgive me for commenting on a subject where I may very well be misplacing advice. Here is my impression from reading what you wrote.

You seem to have not yet decided whether you are going to "Stay and defend your property to the death" or "Call it a loss." From your past posts, your caring way that you seem to consider animals suggests to me that you could be seen as a pushover in the eyes of thugs but then when I read what you wrote today, it appears that you are getting your buttons pushed the point where you fight back.

Please be very careful.

If you are going to call it a loss, call it a loss. Why are you trying to defend your few last boards, at the risk of losing your life? That's not responsible to the people who care for you and want you alive. Just sell the scrap to someone local for cash. Get three bids, and take cash only paid in advance.

On the other hand, if you are going to stand your ground and fight, which I do not advise, you have to get a lot more serious than pepper spray. Even if it worked, that will only deter them and make them angry. Do you know how cheap it is for a thug to rent a pistol?

If you are going to stand your ground, first of all, your guard appears to have been useless. He called you to inform you? He should have shot a gun into the air. If he doesn't have a gun, considering the history of that location, he does not have the tool he needs. If the thieves do not leave the property when he fires the gun in the air, and they are close to him, he must shoot them from the front, and shoot them dead. Then you have to give him a month's bonus or three month's if he has to spend more than three days in jail.

I'm sorry, but I have to be straightforward with you: you need to have an overall strategy and stick to it, either stand your ground or leave. Pussy-footing around with a can of pepper spray is only going to get you into trouble.

Again, my apologies if I am projecting: I don't know you and I've never been to your property and I wasn't there and have no business saying any of this.

Good luck!


Here was one email reply I received in response to that post:

As a normal pacifist who has known a LOT of people (Tico's & gringos -
8 SEPARATE incidents in ONE week!!!) that have been shot at, car
jacked, home invasioned, robbed++ all at gun point - I tend to sadly,
currently agree with you in this current Wild West society that CR
seems to have become!!
-In Escazu


What is a "mordita"? Is that a honduras-specific word?

Crime in Honduras

Honduras is for all practical purposes a Narco State.. Probably the largest source of cash is drugs for the country. Corruption is a way of life here and hardly anything can be accomplished with out a little "mordita". As a tourist always count on the fact that you will be charged about double what the going rate is for anything from cab fare to trinkets you buy in the markets.. Hondurans spend more on protecting themselves from each other than they do on educating their children..

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