Real Time Update

Greetings, Friends and Followers. Time for a real time update from the “Middle of the World,” Ecuador.

Thanks to those who have written to inquire if all is okay since I had been posting regularly from Mexico, but have not posted in a couple of weeks. I have much to share, as I have seen some phenomenal places, both in Mexico and Ecuador.

But first there is a big black cloud that I need to clear.  I only want to write about this once, so as not to “go there” over and over again. I am ready to move on.  But friends have asked about photos and updates, and I have always tried to share the bad along with the good.  So here goes…

Upon arrival into Quito, Ecuador, I checked into the Hostal El Arupo, a place with high ratings on both and Trip Advisor.  It was a small, three story charming old house with private rooms and baths.  I was given Room #9 on the third floor, oozing with charm.  White fluffy duvet, wooden floors and dormer ceiling, and a window with a view out over Quito’s rooftops that had me humming the theme from the movie, “Room with a View.”

I went out to run some errands, have lunch, and find information on tours in the area.  I was gone for about six hours.  When I returned to my room, the first thing I saw when I unlocked the door was my passport there in the middle of the white fluffy duvet.  I thought “Geesh, I cannot believe I left my passport out in plain view!”  That’s not like me.  I picked it up, turned around to put it back in the secret compartment of my backpack, but my backpack was gone!   Panic ensued.  I whirled around to the other side of the room to see if maybe I left it in on the table with my suitcase, but my suitcase was gone!!  There was nothing remaining in the room except my toiletry bag and my passport.

I went flying down the stairs in a state of disbelief to tell the young man at the front desk I had been robbed.  Cleaned out.  He proceeded to call the owner, an elderly woman who spoke English.

This is one of those “good news, bad news” stories.  As of this point, I thought I had lost everything but the clothes on my back.  My mind raced through the contents of both bags, making a mental inventory of things that were replaceable versus those that were not.

Meanwhile, the owner arrived, so the young man went upstairs to have a look around and check the door lock.  He came flying back down the stairs rattling off some words of excitement in Spanish, to which the owner said to me, “Come with me!”  We raced up to the top floor into Room #10 across the hall from me, and there on the two beds were all my things….strewn from one end of the beds to the other.  The thief had emptied both bags, even removing all the clothing from the packing cubes where I had separated my warm and cool weather clothing.  What remained was an odd mix.  All my short sleeved shirts and shorts were gone, as were two pair of pants.  But the long sleeved shirts remained, as did the fleece pants.  My shoes and sandals were all still there, as were my two swimsuits.  But of course my electronics had been picked clean.  Everything.  Laptop, iphone, ipod, my beloved Bose noise canceling headphones, my FitBit.  Oh, and about $200 in dollars and pesos.  All gone, as were the charging cords and the bag they were stored in.    I was….and still am….absolutely gutted.

The owner maintained that it was the man across the hall in Room #10.  She claimed he was traveling on a Paraguay passport, and had asked for a room away from the others in a quiet corner.  He and I were the only two inhabitants on the third floor.  So in theory, he could have broken into my room, taken my things into his room, and gone through them all without much notice.  But I will always suspect it was the maid/breakfast cook.  She had seen me in the room earlier using the laptop, and she did not show up for work the next morning, leaving her assistant (who BTW would not make eye contact with me,) to make the breakfast.

So much of my life is sadly wrapped up in that laptop.  Not only is it my own personal filing cabinet of data (most of which was thankfully backed up,) but it also serves as my personal assistant for notetaking and research on onward travel.  Even when offline, writing is my therapy.  And it’s my photography “darkroom. ”  My entertainment and social network, all built in to one tidy little back box.  You have no idea the hole  it can leave in the life of a solo, introverted traveler…especially in the evening hours.

Thanks to my dear brother Don who always seems to save the day, I was traveling with two phones.  While the iphone has a roaming plan for Mexico, it is of no use in Ecuador, so it was back in the room in my “gray bag” with all my other small electronics.  I had the android which he set up to accept SIM cards with me,  so I was able to purchase a SIM in Quito so I am not completely cut off from the world.  He patched me through to ATT to cancel my service, as so many password resets are tied to text verification these days.  I changed what passwords I could without the help of text verification, and deleted every email with reference to my online accounts.  Then I deleted the deleted.

My first instinct was to get on the plane.  There was a red eye later that night that would only cost me $200 plus 17,500 frequent flyer miles.  I told Don, “I am coming back.  I know when I am licked.”  But he strongly encouraged me to continue on with my plans, stressing that it would be devastating to end on such a bad note.  And he was right.  It’s been two weeks now, and I have managed to not only survive, but thrive.

I look forward to writing about the amazing things I have seen, both during my last days in Mexico, as well as my weeks in Ecuador.  But alas, it will have to wait until I am back in the USA and can replace the laptop.  While internet “cafes” are abundant here in Ecuador, there is really no way to edit and upload photos.  Besides, the Spanish keyboards drive me insane.  So please understand if correspondence is both brief and infrequent, as I have still not mastered the art of emailing with my two opposing thumbs.

Once again,  onward travel is uncertain, as there are many parts of Ecuador I would still like to visit.  But as of this real time moment, my camera is in the repair shop for its second visit while in Ecuador to the tune of $220 in repair bills.  And with no camera to record the memories, I won’t remember what I saw.  So if he is able to repair it, I will continue on.  If not, I will return back to the US and begin to regroup…

Adios por ahora…

30 thoughts on “Real Time Update

  1. We are so sorry, Suzanne. Go to the nearest camera shop, buy a good camera, and let me know where to transfer the money to pay for it….perhaps using paypal. Chester and I really want you to continue your journey and want to see lots more of your amazing photos. xoxo

  2. Oh Suzanne, Marti and I are just so sorry. I know you are “gutted” but you are resilient and strong and you will end up safe at home with stories to tell and we can’t wait to hear them. Stay strong, enjoy what you can, remember as much as you can. Love and hugs from cold, cold Maryland.

  3. I’m so glad you listened to your big brother and stayed. And super glad they didn’t take your passport! Buy a fanny pack (yes, I have 2 and love them – they’ll make a come back one of these days, mark my words) and put everything you can cram into it and don’t take it off (well, maybe to take a shower). LOVE YOU and glad you’re OK.

  4. Oh dear, cannot express how sad this make me and all the memories it brought back of losing our airplane tickets, husband’s passport, cash and ATM card in Quito. We were traveling with good friends that bank-rolled us so we could continue on the trip. American embassy in Quito was very helpful to us and let me make phone calls to bank, credit card companies and issued a one year passport to my husband. Thankfully we had just paid for our trip to the Galapagos before we were robbed. I am glad you will continue on your trip – We very much enjoyed Ecuador. We also filed a police report – worth it I am not sure but we did it.

  5. Ohhhhh nooooo! I’m so sorry to get this news from you. Maybe the traveler in room #10 had help from the maid? It’s so difficult to not let these kinds of things get the best of us…but just keep reminding yourself that you’re on the fun side of the border…really, you are. Things continue on a downward spiral on this not-fun side. All that said, I’d love to see you if you decide to head back through Tucson!


  6. My camera micro-SD card malfunctioned unknowingly when I was in Europe and Iceland for almost four months. I saw none of those 5,000 plus photos when I returned to the USA; wasn’t going to spend $500 for data recovery. Fortunately I have my sister’s photos of our travels. And there was also a scary moment when someone on the street tapped me and said, “M’am your backpack is open in the back.” My passport was gone! I spent an hour retracing my steps. Fortunately it fell out back in my hotel bedroom. Old yoga master says “Be kind, be compassionate, rejoice, and move on” and I repeated that saying many many times whenever things got bad. Try it OK? You’re still a kind soul with much to be thankful for, and a bright future 🙂

  7. Oh, Suzanne, I am so sorry to hear you had to experience this loss. The most important thing is that you are safe and well. I am glad you are continuing on with your travels! The abundance of good people in your life will make up for this bad guy who crossed your path. Best wishes for continued and enjoyable travels. JoanneG

  8. No one wants to read of a robbery nor certainly be a victim of one. You’ve traveled enough to be aware of your surroundings, which makes this even more tragic. Glad you stuck it out and are still able to continue your travels.
    You’re still on the fun side of ‘The Wall’, but you’re not in Mexico anymore.
    Stay Safe!

  9. Oh no! So sorry to hear this. I’m thankful there were people who could help you through this. Hope the rest of your visit is less stressful!

  10. I cant imagine how you feel but after my last reply and attempt at being funny I am simultaneously relieved you are OK, impressed by your spirit in continuing the trip, so glad you have a great brother in Don for such great support and advice, and guilty that my post cast some kind of bad karma on you. I really didn’t mean for that to happen!
    Anyway I have lots of cameras and would be very happy to fed-ex you one! I’m serious about that.
    I know you like music and I’ll bet you know this one- Anchorage by Michelle Shocked , like Le Roy says “”Oh, keep on rocking, girl”

  11. Oh, Suzanne. I’m so deeply sorry to hear this happened to you. I was robbed in Portugal many years ago while visiting a monastery—the thieves took everything from my little car and all I had left were the clothes I was wearing, my camera, my passport, and most of my money. I felt violated and suddenly very vulnerable, and wanted to return to the U.S. immediately.

    I’m glad you’ve decided to continue with your travels. I continued with mine, too—and ended up having a glorious year of adventures in Europe. I’m looking forward to reading about your adventures when you’re able to post. Take good care.

  12. I feel sad for you this morning, Suzanne, and am hoping your current and upcoming wanderings are the salve that heals this deep wound of transgression. Thankfully, you are physically safe from harm. A big warm hug from middle Tennessee is being sent out into the ethers to you at this very moment…

  13. Suzanne, so sorry to hear this. We were among those worrying about your prolonged “absence” from the Internet. And we can definitely identify as we too were robbed in Quito about an hour after arriving. The thieves were waiting in front of our hotel when we arrived (obviously having been tipped off by our cab driver). They appeared to be hotel employees welcoming us to Quito and helping carry our bags into the hotel. They then started a frantic conversation in Spanish, creating a distraction, and vanished with one of our suitcases. Not to prolong this, we eventually replaced most (but not all) of what we needed. (Ecuador is dirt cheap, and medications are available OTC, thank goodness) and went on to have a wonderful time. Ecuador is a beautiful country full of wonderful people. The biggest downside of our robbery was that we became very suspicious of any natives trying to be friendly and helpful.

  14. Damn, what a mess! Hate that happened. It is always shocking, as careful as we are, to have some nutcase rob us! It happened to me in Paris. Never in Mexico!

    Whatever you decide to do, I KNOW it will be what is best for you. I have no doubt. Hope you come through San Miguel another time and we can have another grand afternoon of chatter………….

    Un gran abrazo

  15. We had thought that you were taking a time off to rest, and are so sorry to find out what happened. We are happy that Don was able to assist and his advice was great. Enjoy seeing Ecuador even if you cannot share it with us.
    Peace, you are in our thoughts.
    allen and deede

  16. I am speechless Suzanne. I have often thought that the longer we travel, the more the chance that something like this could happen. I cannot imagine the shock, the deep sadness and sense of loss, and the vulnerability one feels when something like this happens. I am glad you are continuing your trip and hope the best for your camera and that this too shall pass soon. Sending you big hugs.

  17. So very sorry that you were violated in this way. So glad that Don persuaded you to carry on and that you say you are now thriving. You have taken back control which is most important. I was about to email you when this blog post came in, as I had a feeling that something dark was hanging around you. Sending light, love and many hugs.

  18. Honey, I’m soooo sorry to hear this story and the fact that you were violated out of the country makes it worse! I know how you feel about your laptop, I wish you a speedy replacement of it. I was going to text you to see how you were, since I hadn’t seen you on line for awhile. Be safe on the rest of your journey!

  19. Oh Suzanne, what an ordeal. I can only imagine how you felt, but I’m not surprised about your present thriving status. Wishing you all the best.

  20. My heartfelt thanks to everyone for their wonderful comments, well wishes, offers to help, words of wisdom and support. The comments really did help lift my spirits! I wish I had the patience with public internet “cabinas” to thank you each and every one with a personal note. But between the spanish keyboard where half the punctuation keys are in a different location, every word is underlined in red indicating misspelling in Spanish, and keys that stick and have to be dug out with my fingernail every time I press them, this will have to do for now.

    I am still enjoying Ecuador, even though it has been almost a month since the “unfortunate incident.” Fortunately, there is so much beauty and interesting culture here that I have found plenty of ways to stay entertained.

    Carnaval is now in full swing, and it’s a wild time as the local custom is to blast everyone from head to toe with spray foam or water canons. I seem to be the only “gringo” who has been brave enough to venture out, and so far I have been lucky enough to be spared! It´s quite festive with parades of dancers in their local costumes and marching bands. I look forward to sharing the photos and stories once I am back in familiar territory.

    Thanks again for the nice comments, and for keeping me company by saying ¨”hello!¨”

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