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