After one more dental relief team in Honduras, I was pretty worn out. My eyes popped open on our last day, however (yesterday actually), when I looked at El Tiempo newspaper and saw someone I knew. It was colonel Calderon and his bloody faced son. Apparently his son was kidnapped and the story read that he was rescued shortly after the kidnapping. The blood all over his face, in the picture on the front page, was due to a good pistol whipping. The good colonel is responsible, through a series of events that would take too long to describe, for us having the ability to get our teams out and about in the countryside. A real quality guy and I am glad he got his son back in one piece.
The official line is that kidnappings are down and almost gone. The truth of the matter is that it is hard to find someone that does not personally know a victim of kidnapping in Honduras. It seems that the efforts to stop the kidnappers has caused a change in the whole kidnapping “industry.” When some kidnappers were busted by triangulation of cell phone signals, they started changing tactics. Victims started ending up dead or disappeared if anyone in the family even reported the crime.
Luckily, the tourist or transient resident is not usually a target, but it sure pays to be diligent and not make yourself a target. Don’t create patterns of travel that are easily deciphered. Make a habit of checking your tail and ,as Sherlock Holmes said, notice EVERYTHING.
There is also a problem of bank employees letting their partners in crime, down on the street, know that a gringo just changed some cash. Another friend noticed a tail after getting some cash and she had to make a break for it in San Pedro Sula a couple of weeks ago. Two car and one motorcycle chase later she was able to lose them in a mall parking lot. The details of her run showed a lot more persistence, from the muggers, than I have heard of in the past. Hopefully it is an isolated incident but probably not.
The bad guys will keep coming up with new and exciting ways to make life tough for the rest of us. It is just going to have to be our job to keep trying to figure out how to keep them from achieving their goals. Use your head.