Quito, Ecuador – Good Bye IPhone

It It finally happened.
I became a statistic of tourist robberies and got my iPhone stolen.
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The sad thing is that, I feel sort of feel responsible for my stupidity and I could have avoided with a bit more extra care.

It was supposed to be a fun final night with my friends from Holland who traveled with me through 4 places though my trip. Huaraz, Mancora, Quito and then our final night together in Quito.

We were going to go out at La Mariscal, which had all the hot bars and restaurants for tourists and some locals.
I was already conscious about its dangers because 2 people from my hostel had gotten robbed / mugged there not 1 week ago.

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So the responsible adult that I am, I made us go back to the hostel, drop off my bag and go out with minimal stuff.
Took some cash and left everything else. At the last minute, I thought we should bring a phone because what’s good night without capturing?

Dumb dumb decision. My friends were smart enough to leave theirs behind….

So we head into town and start the night off with 3 for $5 beers!

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Hungry, so we headed to a recommended near by burritos joint called Tarzan, which served cheap and good combination platters. Really good! We devour the burritos like we haven’t eaten in days and wash it down with a big mug of beer. So satisfying and feeling really good.

There was a lady and a young girl sitting in the next table. They seem to be family of the owner and in the early hours of 8 o’clock, they had a bottle of alcohol (tequila?) and downing some shots.
When we looked over and our eyes met, they responded with a smile an offered us shots of this liqour.
Now, what kind of a person would I be if I refuse shots from strangers?!

So gladly, we each did shots and then things were even happier!
Music got louder, tables got pushed back and there was a dance hall at the restaurant.
And each time they noticed we had a moment to breath, they offered us another potent shot.

Turns out that the lady was the owners mom, and the girl, probably the sister was celebrating her 21st birthday.
Several other friends of theirs joined in and it became a family / friends birthday party with the visiting foreigners.

These kind of encounters were exactly what i wanted out of my trip.
Randomly meeting locals and sharing a fun time with them.

I’ve been thinking lately that while traveling, you meet so many other “traveler” from around the world and travel, experience things with them, and deeply connect, understand their culture, but the down side is that I haven’t really connected with the local people. I have had broken Spanish conversations with Ecuadorians, but actually embarrassingly recently only to to order food, or ask for directions or to get what I need. I haven’t immersed myself in the culture like i had set out to do, and have been thinking how to rectify the situation. So this was a perfect night for us to jump in and blend with the Ecuadorians and party their way.

There were many shots, beers and another bottle of rum, hugging, retarded broken Spanish conversations and lots of dancing.
The drunken gringos (including me) tried our best in to dance salsa, and fell down to the floor with reggae-ton. All while we were happy to capture these precious moment on the iPhone I was happy to have brought!

The local guy was even posting photos of the celebration quoting “Celebrating the birthday with the drunk gringos!”

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We officially made this Monday and this burrito joint the most happening place in La Mariscal!
All were friends and family so I didn’t think twice (or didn’t even think) about taking care of my phone. And plus the owner had shut the front gate so it was just us.

Then, probably past midnight, they started packing up the place and getting ready to go, then bad news struck.
No iPhone!

Me being Japanese and believing things will always show up, wasn’t too worried about it at first. Until it hit me that this is La Mariscal! The very place my 2 friends got mugged just days ago…. Cold sweat.

The owner and his friend were quite furious at this happening at this place and with people they consider friends and family.
We were tired and ready to give up, but they insisted and even went through people’s bags. But still no phone.

It was a horrible feeling to ruin everyone’s great night with this incident.
I was extremely disturbed about losing my phone but more so that this great night to send my friends off and a night with locals was turning into another tourist epidemic in La Mariscal.

A phone is a phone, but the photos are precious memories I won’t get back.
The only saviour was that I had briefly connected to wi-fi before going out, so Dropbox had automatically uploaded a portion of them online, but the ones that didn’t sync yet are lost and of course fun photos from this very night are gone forever.
I am hoping that the robber will connect to wi-fi and the upload will complete so that I can at least get the photos.

The next day, I was headed to Galapagos. GALAPAGOS!!!
And it should have been one of the most excited moments of my life, breaking my budget for this once in a lifetime experience, but without a iPhone to take photos on, and the sad incident over my shoulders, not to mention the heavy duty hangover, I was not a happy traveler. Blank faced and with no power of life, I ushered myself to the airport and boarded the plane to Galapagos….

Lesson learned:
Don’t bring phone to warned places! And if you do, do not set it down.
(embarrassed to say that this is the second time I have gotten my iPhone stolen overseas, setting it down on a table, last incident, Barcelona)

  • Quito, La Marisca is known for robberies and muggings. Leave everything and only take cash you can afford to lose!!
  • If you must take your valuables, DO NOT SET IT DOWN! Money belt!!!
  • Invest in a cloud service to upload your photos automatically (Dropbox / Amazon, iCloud etc. )
  • When traveling long term, take a back up camera / phone (old one) I was lucky to have taken my old iPhone with me so that I have something at the Galapagos. Yes, the photo quality and function is not good, but at least I have one.

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