Quito – iPhone theft and prostitution

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So let me just say… This was not my day! Read on to see the hilarity of my misfortune, or near misfortune.

My Quito trip tentative plan was to go salsa dancing at Lavoe, tango dancing at CafeLibro, craft shopping at Otavalo, and see some touristy stuff in Quito – El Panecillo, the Teleferico, Mitad del Mundo. I packed light, just a small backpack with clothes to multipurpose sightseeing during the day and going out at night.

Getting into town I decided my easiest transport option (besides paying for tons of taxis) would be to do the hop on hop off tourist bus. I went up to the Panecillo first, which was lovely, and then decided to stop at the 24 de Mayo to see the street La Ronda, one of my favorite parts of the historic district for all the traditional workshops. The bus stops right above La Ronda on the 24 de Mayo – a lovely boulevard lines with modern art sculptures and a seemingly nice part of town. True to Quito weather predictions it started raining. And as luck would have it, the tourist bus comes once every hour, and there is no shelter at the bus stop.

No problem right? I will just wait across the street and keep an eye out and flag the bus down. With colonial architecture the red-tiled roofs jut out a couple feet making for a nice place on the street corner to keep dry.

But where is the bus? I aimed to be there a little early, but it seems I have been waiting a long time. Pacing back and forth on the street corner. I was wearing a short skirt (for my planned salsa dancing outing that evening, why pack more than you have to?) but with opaque leggings, leg warmers, and sneakers to be more comfortable, warm, and appropriate for the day time.

A man strolls up and eyes me in a way I do not like. “Amiga, cuanta, cuanta? he asks me…”How much? How much?” Confused, I wasn’t holding anything that could be mistaken for sale until it occurs to me that…I have been pacing on the street corner where there is no bus stop in a miniskirt for some time, in the rain, with no immediately obvious reason for doing so. And prostitution is legal in Ecuador. Ewwwww! I tell him that I am a tourist and to leave me alone, which thankfully he does. But come on, really? Prostitutes in sneakers with no makeup? Even the local business women here wear heels!!

But anyway, now I am really really anxious for the bus to come. I fish around in my purse and find my phone to check the time. Too late, I realize my phone is flying down the street in the hand of a thief running down the boulevard. Shocked, and do not ask me why this is my instinct, I started running after him.

I was screaming my head off in English, “Help! Thief!” which I’m sure most people didn’t understand. But I screamed really really loud, surprisingly so. My Spanish is actually really good, and the more intelligible thing to do would be to shout in Spanish, but I guess my gut instincts have not changed to Spanish yet. The people turned and looked. And surprisingly, I am gaining on him. Reason returns and I ask myself what the heck I am doing. I didn’t exactly have a plan. Obviously if I caught up with him I was not going to tackle him football style and attempt to wrest the phone from his grip. But maybe, I reasoned, one of the armed guards which patrol the area would take note as long as I made such a big loud ruckus and tackle him for me.

Except the guards looked but didn’t actually do anything. But perhaps out if fear that they might do something, or the realization that I m gaining on him, or the multitude of people now staring, he yells “ya lo dejo” or…”I am leaving it already”, depositing the phone on a bench and sprinting off.

I grabbed my phone, breathed a deep sigh of relief, and went to talk to the guards? Do I need to file a police report on attempted robbery? Nahhhhh!

Lesson(s) learned! And time to buy a watch. Preferably one that looks really really cheap.

Below is my alleged prostitute look at El Panecillo

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