JO O’CON­NELL

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Masterclass / Advice -

Wan­der­lust reader Jo shares her travel trou­bles and how she stays safe…

What hap­pened?

My hus­band and I were on our hon­ey­moon in Cape Town, where we had taken the ca­ble car up to the top of Ta­ble Moun­tain. On the way back to the ho­tel we were con­scious of the fact that you should only go through the des­ig­nated ar­eas, but from the top it didn’t seem that far. We de­cided to take the short walk down but, very quickly, the land­scape changed and we found our­selves on a route where peo­ple were sleep­ing rough on benches and clearly had noth­ing. We were only one road away from a street cor­ner where an armed guard was stand­ing but a man crossed the road onto our side and de­manded money.

How did you re­act?

I was wear­ing my wed­ding ring and my hus­band had his new cam­era but I wasn’t go­ing to give the man any­thing. We re­sisted, so he put his hand in his pocket and threat­ened us. I started scream­ing and shout­ing, telling him to stop and go away. He looked shocked and backed off, then legged it.

How could you have avoided this?

I wouldn’t have said we were naive trav­ellers. We’ve been in sit­u­a­tions be­fore but we un­der­es­ti­mated how much you re­ally have to stick to the des­ig­nated ar­eas in Cape Town. One street away and you’re on your own.

What did you learn?

We were both shaken up and wanted to with­draw to our ho­tel room. How­ever, we didn’t want to let one in­ci­dent stop us from hav­ing a good time, so we went out and had a lovely evening! We just made sure that we stayed rel­a­tively sober and took a proper taxi home, which the restau­rant had booked for us.

Do you do any­thing dif­fer­ently now?

I’m al­ways wary of oth­ers and, es­pe­cially as a woman, I’m nat­u­rally clock­ing other peo­ple in the street. I’ve learnt that if peo­ple look dodgy and up to no good, they likely are. But I re­alise now that my nat­u­ral in­stinct is fight, not flight!

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