I said “You would be surprised what tourists let people get away with.” This story has been in my head since, and I think it’s worth sharing.
A good friend of mine, lets call her Ashley, was on a beach in Spain. She was talking with two people: her friend and European traveler they’d just met. She’d set her purse in the sand behind her and her attention was on the conversation.
A gypsy came right up to her bag while they were talking. The European traveler made the most subtle gesture to let Ashley know to keep an eye on her stuff, but she did not understand. Thankfully her travel buddy understood and came to the rescue.
By the time Ashley looked over, the gypsy had invaded her personal space and had her purse in his hands. Ashley looked at him appalled. He looked back. He slowly set the purse down and silently backed away.
In the US, we are the United States of Whistle Blowers. If someone sees something wrong, they don’t rub their eye to let you know someone is stealing from you; they yell it at the top of their lungs! It’s a completely different culture and mindset. In Italy, if you see someone doing something wrong, you keep your head down–this is called onestà (honesty). When you consider the history with the mafia, this makes sense: if you call out the mafia (or even try to warn a friend!), they’ll retaliate against you. It’s best to keep quiet.
The point is, when you are traveling, you can’t trust others to have your back or think that there are Good Samaritans around you.
This should not deter you from traveling. It should only remind you to travel smart because it’s so easy to protect yourself from, at least most of the time!
Be you’re own Good Samaritan!