This is an interview with Joe Wolek, the American stabbed during a robbery in La Boca, Buenos Aires. The man got stabbed ten times, twice in the heart, but miraculously survived. (mostly thanks to the surgeon also being interviewed who he later befriend)
The interview starts at about 32:10. The TV show is in Spanish but Joe speaks in English and the questions are translated if anyone wants to check it out.
Joe says: “I was there in the early morning to avoid the crowds that happen in places that are for tourists”
When you avoid crowds in dagenrous places you are therefore left alone in those dangerous places. Bad idea.
Joe says “I was walking along the train tracks, photographing the various graffiti.”
La Boca is already a high crime area. The train tracks is probably the worst place you could think of.
3) Joe says he started feeling “punches” in his chest, he thought he was being punched. He says “ I didn’t feel the knife until I looked down and saw the blood. “
Punches often get confused with getting stabbed. With smaller blades and especially with poor light (night) this happens often. Many survivors mention this exact same thing, confusing stabs with punches and not realizing there’s a blade used in the attack.
4) Nothing is worth getting stabbed over. Or getting shot. When caught off guard, let go of your stuff. Joe says “When I saw I was being stabbed I let go of the camera. I was holding on.”
5)Never chase after to attackers that just stabbed you through the heart.
Joe started running in the same direction the attackers went. This is again, a very common reaction, to chase after who attacked you or stole your property. Again, not worth it. It is common for criminals to stop and shoot your way if you follow them.
6)Not much blood was showing. Although Joe saw blood, bystanders he tried to ask for help didn’t realize how badly wounded he was because there wasn’t a lot of blood.
Puncture stab wounds may bleed internally or not bleed much at all, or it may bleed a lot. Its all about what gets cut.
7)Joe was not aware of the specifics of the crime rate in Argentina. He says “I was warned about La Boca. I’ve been to a lot of places in the world, some dangerous places, so I took my chances. “
The specifics matter a LOT. As they say, the devil is in the details. A dangerous “touristy” place like La Boca, it’s one thing when full of people and it’s another when deserted. You may get your bag snatched when there’s a crowd around you, but being there when there’s no one around just isn’t the smart thing to do.
8) Bad advice. Minute 46:53 this woman talked to Joe before the incident and when asked about crime in Argentina, she told Joe that he could get his camera stolen, but nothing would happen to him, that his life wouldn’t be at risk. This is in fact BAD advice. People get killed during crimes DAILY in Buenos Aires so saying it’s just crime like in any big city is in fact incorrect. Important lesson right there: know your sources, know who you’re getting your advice from. An airhead model/tv presenter may not be the best person to consult about crime and security.
9)Joe does say that after his attack he is more aware of people walking behind him a bit more and lets tem pass, what we would call watching your six.
10) Besides the obvious, avoiding dangerous countries and dangerous places, my advice for anyone traveling to areas where crime is a serious problem is to prepare accordingly. Avoid when possible, but if that’s not an option get an actual guide, either individual or along with a group. Its money well spent. Keep your plane ticket, passport and cash in a travel money belt, well hidden under your clothes.
Criminals will not strip you naked when attacking. They’ll just take your handbag or wallet. As for camera, don’t bring anything you’re not willing to part with in a split second. You may want to leave your fancy cell phone behind and get around with a cheap one too.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”