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 hotels.com 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…