And it really, really
The ironic thing is that our last blog was about how much safer we have been feeling even though Quito has a nasty reputation for muggings and such. We haven't felt threatened in the least. This is what happened:
The night of our last post (Monday) we planned to drop off some laundry, get some dinner, and update our blog. As we said in our last post, we have realized that if we leave our hostel at night with very little on us (so just enough money for what we need), we feel much safer. So, instead of taking our camera with us to update our blog, we just took the memory card and left the camera in our room. After doing everything, we went back to our room and packed up because our flight to the Galapagos was early Tuesday morning.
We were still carrying around about 350,000 Venezuelan Bolivares (worth about $163 US Dollars), and couldn't find the money anywhere, but just assumed that we were disorganized and let it be, figuring that the money would show up eventually. Then we began to count our travellers cheques and couldn't figure out where $500 went, but again just assumed that we had been absentminded in remembering when or where we had cashed it. We finished packing our bags and went to bed.
Tuesday morning we woke up and got ready to head for the airport. Our flight was at 9:45am and we needed to be there an hour early. As we were leaving the hostel, we double checked for the camera (literally just as we were leaving - we were on the street already), but it was no where to be found. The older man who runs the hostel came outside and asked what was wrong. We explained that our camera was missing and he ushered us back inside, where we frantically tore about both backpacks. The entire time he stood there watching us, offering stupid explanations like "Oh, maybe you lost it in a shirt?" At this point it was 8:45am and the clock was ticking. We ran back to our room and somewhat trashed it (pulled out drawers from the dressers, tore the mattress off the bed, etc) - but still no camera. The man was super nice and all "concerned" for us. It was unbelievably infuriating because by that point we knew what was happening, but we could not communicate with him well enough to say "Last night the camera was in our room and now it is gone! Where the &%$# did it go??!!"
The language barrier and ticking clock forced us to just leave because we were going to miss our flight.
In retrospect, we are looking back and think we know exactly what happened. You know all those little things you notice but don't pay much attention to?
First off, upon arrival at the hostel we were given a padlock and key for our door. Though we have been carrying a combination lock with us, and it didn't cross our minds to use it. Next, every time we left the hostel, the man locked the door behind us. We assumed he did that for security reasons (because as we noted in our last blog, Old Town Quito can be quite sketchy), and each time we returned we'd ring the bell and he'd greet us and open up right away. When we returned from the blog updating on Monday night, instead of the man greeting us at the door, his young son came instead. And, before opening the door for us, he yelled something to his dad which we just assumed was along the lines of "It's okay, it's the travellers." Third, when we got to our room, we noticed that though the door was still locked, it had not been closed properly. Again we just assumed that we had been hasty in leaving or something.
The camera was in our room before we left for dinner, but was not in our room when we returned. That man was the only other person who would have had a key. We think that the little boy was acting as his "lookout" and that the old man was actually in our room when we had returned to the hostel. That's why he didn't come to the door, that's why the little boy yelled before opening up (which now we think was along the lines of "It's them!"), and that would be why our room door looked hastily closed.
All in all we lost our new camera (worth about $500), approximately $100 US cash, 350,000 Bolivares (worth about $163 US Dollars) and possibly a $500 travellers cheque. We also lost a memory card, but thankfully
, because we had gone to update our blog, it was NOT the memory card that had all our travel pictures thus far on it. That was the "sunny side" of the situation. The devastating side was that we were an hour away from our flight to the Galapagos Islands, one of those "once in a lifetime" opportunities, and we were without our camera or the time to replace it. It was incredibly upsetting. Both of us feel like it would have been better to have been robbed by gunpoint - that way at least we would have known who did it. It is pretty upsetting to us that we were so kind to that man, and that he took advantage of us like that.
Anyways, as shitty as it all is, there is a happy ending to the story! We frantically made it to the airport and were permitted to board the plane, even with only about 20 minutes left before take off. While on the plane we were both still pretty angry and upset about what had happened. Everything had happened so quickly, and we didn't know if we were supposed to file a police report or anything. A local man sitting beside us asked in English what was going on. When we told him the story, he was absolutely disgusted and completely mortified for us - partly, we think because he was embarrassed for his country, and partly because everyone
in Ecuador knows what an opportunity the Galapagos Islands are and it would be a shame not to have pictures to remember it by (there are no stores there to purchase another camera). We were completely blown away by what happened next: this man, Diego, OFFERED US HIS DIGITAL CAMERA
and his business card so that we could return it at the end of our week in the islands!! Absolutely unbelievable! We were both floored by his kindness and generosity - it was seriously the nicest thing anyone has ever done for either of us. And to just trust two complete strangers like that? Wow. Talk about Karma!
So even though Tuesday was an awful day, we are still going with our "adapt and overcome, it is what is it" mantra. We will not let a little camera robbery ruin our trip. And we still love Ecuador!
We're currently in the Galapagos and will post a blog with stories and *pictures* at the end of our cruise. Send happy thoughts Diego's way!
Trevor and Kristena
*** Beware other travellers, the hostel name is HOSTAL DEJA VU ***
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