Solo traveling proves dangerous

Published 6:28 am Wednesday, June 8, 2005

By Staff
I'm a bit confused by the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, the Birmingham teen who disappeared in Aruba. Why was she alone?
After I graduated from high school, a group of us took a cruise to the Bahamas. It was an unsanctioned trip but school officials made it a point to inform us of travel dos and don'ts.
We had a couple of chaperones, there were about five girls and a ton of guys. When we were on the boat our chaperones were aware of where we were at all times. However, when we visited the islands it was a different story. We were left on our own, no supervision.
Despite the fact, pact mentality engulfed us all as we hit the clubs, shopped the markets and ate at restaurants. No matter what, there were still two of us together at all times. Even when we had to separate into cabs, there were still two of us.
I remember when a group of us had to rush back to the ship for the Captain's dinner. We were running way behind and the only cabs available would only fit three people at a time - the driver and two passengers (three if we squeezed).
Even in the frenzied moment we managed to have somebody we knew with us. There was one scary moment when one of the cabs took a wrong turn and we separated. But when we all gathered back together, safely, we discussed and agreed that it would have been harder to get rid of two Americans than one.
What I want to know is, where were Natalee's friends? Through published reports, it has been said that her friends saw her last, getting into a car with men who said they were foreign exchange students.
For someone who has been portrayed as extremely responsible, she and her friends did not act responsibly. I find it strange that the media hasn't drifted to her friends. It seems nobody has picked up on the fact that these teenagers let this vulnerable girl out of their sight. Why was she alone, I ask?
I know the main focus in this point of the investigation is to find this girl. But where are her friends during this time? Maybe they could shed a little insight on why they let her go somewhere alone.
Didn't chaperones discuss emergency protocol, or remind the group of more than 100 to never leave with strangers or go somewhere alone – especially in this day in age of war and terror?
Even in one of the most picture-perfect places in the world such as Aruba, where crime is very low, not one place is perfect. There are predators around us and it's our responsibility to protect ourselves from them.
I pray that they find this girl alive.
Mary-Allison Lancaster can be reached at or 251.867.4876.

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