Blog - foXnoMad

Is Antigua, Guatemala Safe?

Located in the heart of Guatemala in Antigua, a small town that’s a tourist oasis about an hour drive west from the capital. Although Guatemala City nearby is notorious for its high crime rate, Antigua has a reputation for being safe and a gateway to the rest of the country. Crime is a broad topic and one where when it affects you personally, doesn’t make the best of statistics comforting.

You’ll read a lot about how safe Antigua is or isn’t but overall, here’s what you need to know.

Small Town Vibes

There aren’t many reliable statistics on crime in Antigua but economically it is an important hub of tourism for Guatemala. Tourism equals money and corruption in government is an issue in Guatemala, meaning that officials have a vested interested in bringing your cash to Antigua. (So they can pocket part of it.) Sometimes though as a traveler your goals align with that of shifty politicians and to keep Antigua safe, there is a heavy police presence in the town.

Not ominous, just present. You’ll see cops and tourist police a the corners of many popular spots in town, casually keeping an eye on things.

Local Recommendations

Most locals will tell you Antigua is free to explore during the day – which coincidentally is when most things are open. Restaurants and even bars close relatively early and if you are out in the later hours, just have a cab called for you to take you back to your hotel. The streets are pretty deserted at night so better to not risk being the only person at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

antigua guatemala tacos

But aside from general street common sense (don’t walk around at night alone when it’s late) at most other times it’s just business as usual. Take your phone or camera out to take pictures, there’s no need to tourist around in fear. Smartwatches are common sights and so long as you take the usual precautions (watch you pockets in busy places) you should enjoy what Antigua has to offer. (Which by the way is lots of history and lots more good, good food in Antigua.)

Digital Eyes

There are also cameras on most street corners so if you do get unlucky and pick-pocketed or lose something, locals will tell you the cops are generally good about reviewing footage to help you out as best they can. The cameras are a good deterrent for criminals and helpful police means happy tourists, which means money – some of which will probably be skimmed into someone’s pockets.

Like life, crime levels can change over time, for better or worse. Being so close to Guatemala City may make you apprehensive. But there’s a lot of effort in Antigua to keep it tourist-friendly, safe, and that’s cultivated a wonderful place to visit in Guatemala.

FaucetSafe Premium App Is Your Personal Guide To Safe Drinking Water Worldwide

Knowing whether or not the tap water where you are or happen to be visiting is safe to drink is a problem FaucetSafe solves right from your phone. Whether or not the local water is potable is one of the most common questions travelers have but a lot of the information online is either inaccurate or out of date. I developed FaucetSafe to be a travel guide in your pocket, that can give you current information on water potability around the world.

Now, with latest version of FaucetSafe Premium (available on iOS and Android) you’ll have personalized notifications to alert you on the potability of the water from the tap. FaucetSafe Premium unlocks the following features:

  • Automatic Notifications: Get water potability information as soon as you arrive at your hotel, home, or vacation rental destination down to the neighborhood level – works offline. Notifications with water drinkability works completely offline so you don’t need an Internet connection!
  • Track Specific Localities: Select countries, states, and other localities you want information on and receive notifications any time there’s an update to the water quality there.
  • Personalized Support: FaucetSafe Premium users will also get personalized support for any questions you have regarding the water potability in a given country, city, or neighborhood. We’ll be your clean water personal guard so you always drink only the best. (And avoid getting sick when traveling. Because that sucks.)

All of the Premium enhancements come with all of the regular FaucetSafe features including always up-to-date independently verified water quality reports from all over the world, user community, and of course, complete offline functionality.

How To Get FaucetSafe Premium FREE

FacuetSafe Premium is an upgrade you can select from within the FaucetSafe app. It’s a yearly subscription you can try 30 days for free and connect with other travelers, just in time for your next trip!

Of course if you have any questions about FaucetSafe you can send me a message here. Have a safe and hydrated flight!

Mint Mobile’s Data Usage Might Be Confusing Your Phone

A few months ago when I reviewed Mint Mobile, a popular pay-as-you-go cellular service in the United States, I noted there was some lost data. Meaning that the amount of cellular data usage from my phone once Mint was activated skyrocketed, resulting in a lot of unexplained data usage.

It’s a mystery I’ve been testing and investigating since it’s come up and I’ve got some answers but now a few more questions. Here’s the latest.

Gigabytes On Up

Prior to using Mint Mobile, I was averaging about 2.5-3 Gigabytes of cellular data usage a month. Primarily tied to WiFi in most cases, I’m not a heavy user. So it made sense to get a $15 a month 4GB plan to test on for a minimum 3 month term. Yet a week or two into my plan though I hit that data limit and got a notification I’d have to purchase more data – so I got 5 GB for an $15 extra dollars. And then 10 days later, guess what? The same thing happened.

In fact this happened each month so at the next 3 month interval, I went with a 10 GB plan. Same thing, went over my data limits, had to buy more. Then I went with the unlimited plan and well, that’s when things got weird.

Looking For Leaks

Prior to this I had tried to find if there was some data leak on my phone. I made sure WiFi Assist was off on my iPhone, a feature which uses cellular data when you’re on a weak WiFi connection. iCloud and iCloud Drive were off too, which they always are. Apps were checked for data consumption and my phone was left in airplane mode for days at a time.

Still, I went from averaging 3 GB a month, getting Mint Mobile, then averaging 15 GB or more a month. That is until I switched to an unlimited plan.

No Records

I reached out to Mint Mobile to see if they could share a history of my data usage over the months but they replied that since they’re a prepaid service, they don’t have such records. If that’s true, it would make it very difficult, if there was some sort of data issue, for Mint Mobile to investigate it since they wouldn’t have any records to go back and check.

Whether they have the information but don’t share it, or could access such records but don’t have the data parsed, or just don’t keep such records at all, in all 3 cases that’s a bad look. It means as a consumer you have to track all of your data usage by month and record it. Should there be a potential issue you noticed last month, well Mint Mobile wouldn’t be able to help you much since they can’t verify or cross reference the data usage you’re seeing from your phone to any records on their side.

And here we are. So far this month I’ve used a small amount of data and am wondering, what will happen when I go back to a 4GB plan or 10GB? We’ll see and I’ll update you in a few weeks with those results.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Are Ready For First Class

The first generation Bose QuietComfort had great sound quality and the best noise-cancellation you could get in earbuds. Still, they were hard to recommend for everyone because they were big, bulky, and not very comfortable to wear for long periods. With the new Bose QuietComfort II though, Bose has addressed nearly all the shortcomings of the first version and improved upon pretty much everything else.

You can watch my review of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II above or read on.

Smaller Case, Smaller Buds

Bose has overhauled the design of the QuietComfort II. Gone is the larger pill-shaped case from before which has now been replaced with a thinner, puck case that’s reminiscent of the AirPods Pro 2. The case is 30% smaller, is lighter, and retains 18 hours of battery for the earbuds. Gone is wireless charging but since it gives us a smaller case, it’s a tradeoff most will be happy with. The case charges over USB-C, taking 3 hours for a full charge and can quick charge the earbuds in 20 minutes.

Now the earbuds themselves have undergone a design overhaul as well. They are 20% smaller and 30% lighter than before, with a pill shape that’s got a sleek rubber band around the edge to secure the fit. As a result of the physical design and light weight (6.2 grams each) the QuietComfort II Earbuds stay in place and are very comfortable to wear for hours at a time.

Sound Quality ANC

Active noise cancellation (ANC) has always been a strong point of Bose headphones and earbuds and these QuietComfort II are no different. Activating ANC turns off the outside work so much so that you’ll hardly be able to hear yourself type once activated. The ANC is adaptive, meaning it adjusts to spontaneous loud sounds like a sneeze or noisy truck passing by. For frequent flyers the ANC will make engine noise mostly disappear. For times you need to hear the outside world, a long press on the earbuds will scroll through Aware mode or turning ANC off.

bose quietcomfort earbuds 2

Aware mode uses the microphones in the earbuds themselves to funnel in outside sounds to your ears so, in theory, it’s like you’re not wearing earbuds at all. And the QuietComfort II do a good job at this, really giving you the feeling of not wearing earbuds for the most part. Aware mode is great for when you need to hear a gate announcement at an airport or listen for your name at a coffee shop.

Worthy Of Upgrade

There are a few minor gripes I have with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II. Mainly that it (still) doesn’t have multi-point support and the long press to scroll through ANC modes is slow. Both of these issues could potentially be resolved with software updates but still, if you’re using the previous version, these are a worthy upgrade. For everyone else shopping for active noise cancelling earbuds, Bose has just made these a top contender you should take a close look at.

What iPhone 14 Means For The World Of eSIMs

When the iPhone 14 was announced this past September, it was, well more or less the standard release we’ve come to expect in recent years. A better camera, improved battery, but also quietly mentioned was the removal of a physical SIM card slot. The iPhone 14 models have gone completely eSIM, on U.S. models only for the time being, so what exactly does that mean?

What Is An eSIM?

Let’s start with physical the SIM cards you’re probably familiar with. SIM stands for (Subscriber Identity Module) and they’re thin plates of gold on plastic that have information embedded on them which identifies your phone to a mobile network. It’s how Mint Mobile for example, recognizes your phone and associated cellular plan. With physical SIM cards, when you want to switch networks, you have to remove one card and insert the other, for another mobile network. (Some phones have dual SIM card slots, but the concept is the same.)

sim cards

eSIMs are basically a software version of the same thing. Instead of a physical card with your phone’s identifying information, that information is stored on your phone like a file would. Many newer phones have a physical SIM tray and support eSIM but the iPhone 14 has dropped the tangible cards altogether.

The Apple Shift

Chances are on a regular basis you don’t think about SIM cards much. They only really need to be changed when you’re switching carriers from a regular provider or temporarily when traveling internationally. Many countries do support eSIMs but not all carriers everywhere do. With Apple completely removing the SIM tray from their U.S. phones (sure to be coming to international phones soon enough) it will push major carriers everywhere to support eSIM in a big way. As Apple and the iPhone goes, so does the smartphone industry.

What This Transition Means

At the moment, unless you’re using an iPhone 14 purchased in the United States or some other eSIM only phone (which isn’t many of you yet), these changes won’t affect you directly. For iPhone 14 and other eSIM only users, transferring your old phone to the new one will be a relatively straightforward software sync of a few minutes. When traveling, most other countries have some eSIM provider – though it might not be all the carriers everywhere yet. So if you want to get a local phone line and data plan, you can try adding a new eSIM using a service on your phone. (Which is much simpler, cheaper, and faster than having to get a new physical SIM card.)

Otherwise in the instances where an eSIM is not available, you can add an international plan to your primary cell line for the duration of your trip or bring an older phone with a physical SIM tray as a backup just in case. And as you’re reading this probably by the time the iPhone 15 rolls around, eSIMs will be a lot more common and familiar around the world.

Why Wikipedia’s Map Of India And Pakistan Is So Controversial

When I posted this video where I asked people in Pakistan if they could say one nice thing about India, the responses people gave were overwhelmingly positive. But this map when was shown only for a few seconds, outraged a lot of people, Indians in particular.

Where This Map Is From

The map below is from the Wikipedia page titled “Indo-Pakistani wars and conflicts“. You can see a clean cut border running down between Pakistan in green and India in orange. But this is a de-facto map of the border between India and Pakistan. De-facto meaning what exists in actuality, despite official or legal status as is the case in these other de-facto places. When you look at a Google Map of the region, you see a lot of dotted lines. In other words, things are not so clear cut on the ground as the solid line on Wikipedia would suggest.

india pakistan kashmir

If you’re already thinking whoa, these de facto geopolitical situations are touchy topics, well then, just wait until we get to the Kashmir region in the northern parts of the India Subcontinent.

jammu kashmir borders

Finding Kashmir

Kashmir is a region of 180,000 kilometers at the very north of the Indian subcontinent. It’s mostly mountains with the Himalaya and Karakorum ranges cutting through the region along with three rivers, the Chenab, Indus, and Jehlum. Kashmir is bordered by Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan.

Now, in practice when you hear people say “Kashmir” that refers to the Kashmir valley but also the territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, which are administered by India – and Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, administered by Pakistan, and Aksai Chin and the Tran-Karakoram Tract, administered by China. Of this total land area, India controls about 55% (covering 70% of the total population), Pakistan 35% of the land area, and China about 20%.

1947 Split

1947 was a very important year historically for this part of the world. Up until this point for the previous 300-plus years the British colonized and ruled large parts of the India subcontinent. When Britain decided to hastily leave the Indian subcontinent, they broke it into two independent dominions – Muslim majority Pakistan and India. The guy Britain selected to draw up these borders was Cyril Radcliffe. He was not a political or regional expert, but rather a lawyer. He had also never been to the Indian subcontinent.

india pakistan border visit

Britain gave Radcliffe 5 weeks to draw up a border between India and Pakistan – again, a part of the world he had never been to and clearly did not understand.

Radcliffe cut through the Punjab and Bengal states and the effect of his drawing of lines on a map was a refugee crisis of somewhere between 10-20 million people. The violence that ensued as Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs migrated en masse to get to the “right” side of the border lead to an estimated 200,000 to 2 million deaths.

Drawing Controversy

Once the borders were drawn up, an independent Pakistan and independent India both claimed the state of Jammu and Kashmir, leading to 3 wars, the first being the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Since those wars there have been countless skirmishes and to this day, we have dotted lines on a map.

Except this map on Wikipedia, which is what lead to the controversy in my original video.

See, if you look at detailed maps of Kashmir, you see the dotted lines and that’s because India, Pakistan, and China all lay claims to the region, either partially or in it’s entirety. In practice though after all of the wars and over military build ups, parts of Kashmir are under Indian, Pakistani, and Chinese control.

The line of this map is controversial because the region is disputed. In some people’s eyes on both sides, all of Kashmir belongs to their country. Essentially, to a lot of Indians and a lot of Pakistanis, Kashmir historically and culturally belongs to their nation. In practice though Kashmir is a region divided by three nations, millions of people, and a lot of bad blood over nearly a century.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

YouTube Twitter Instagram Facebook

Image Map

Image Map
80 Shares
Share
Tweet
Pin