They say the problem with Quito is the crime. They say it a lot! As soon as we landed we were regaled with stories of friends of friends of friends being drugged in bars, robbed and left miles away or pickpocketed on the bus etc. It’s all meant as a friendly warning to be careful but it’s so nonstop and intense that you start to feel paranoid and a little agoraphobic.
However, once you take the time to think about what people are telling you, you realise that Quito isn’t really any worse that any other city in the world, including London. There is certainly a problem with crime in Quito, the three biggest career options seem to be Police, Security guards or Taxi drivers as they are everywhere and if you get your camera out of your bag, kind strangers tell you to put it away for risk of losing it to an opportunist thief. On a Saturday night the Mariscal area is protected by special police and even the national guard (complete with automatic rifles) – you would think you were in downtown Baghdad rather than Gringolandia ((as the locals call it)
I’m hoping that if we obey some simple rules, then we’ll be fine. These rules are the same ones we use for everywhere in the world. They arent difficult, you just don’t do daft things! Things such as walk in deserted areas like parks and alleys on your own or after dark, flash your money and expensive belongings in public, accept drinks from strangers, fail to keep an eye on your bags in busy public areas, get in unlicensed cabs etc etc etc. It’s not rocket science and the majority of stories told to us have been the result of people ignoring these rules (mostly drunk American teenagers)…not so much a robbery as a stupidity tax!
And so 10 days in and no stupidity tax for us…of course by writing this I have probably jinxed myself so if you don’t hear from me again you know what happened!