Posted by: Tom Lancaster | April 1, 2010

A mugging – by Jane

Episode 8.5: Quito, Ecuador

So…………. now that we’re safely back (and therefore not likely to upset our respective parents) the full story of my bag being stolen in Quito follows.

Basically, we did everything that the hostel told us quite clearly not to do on their very helpful poster in reception called “Keeping safe in Quito”.

In the time between returning from our day’s sight-seeing and heading out to dinner, the bustling commercial area around our hostel had become almost completely deserted. It was still light though as we heading out to dinner, so off we toddled to where all the bars and restaurants were.

By 10pm, we were ready for home, and forgetting how quiet it had been in the immediate vicinity of the hostel, back we went on foot. You would have thought that when all the bars and restaurants petered out, we would have realised that walking along deserted streets in the semi darkness was a mistake, but no, we carried on. It was only another 5 or 6 blocks after all.

Literally a block away from the hostel, 3 men appeared in front of us and before you could say “this does not look good” two of them had Tom by the shirt against the wall and one was looming over me shouting “dinero, dinero!!” (money, money).

Tom did exactly the right thing, putting his hands up and letting them root through his pockets. I, on the other hand, did exactly what they tell you not to do i.e shouted “run” and proceeded to attempt to leg it *Note from Tom: she was basically fleeing and leaving me to the wolves*.

Unfortunately, I was impeded by my glamorous Birkenstocks and the three tonnes of adrenaline coursing through my body, and instead of fleeing like a gazelle I fell over my own feet and sprawled on the floor after about 5 feet (probably shrieking like a baby but frankly I don’t remember).

Anyhoo, in their defence, not one of the men laid a finger on me and I made my way to my feet as my bloke continued to shout “dinero dinero”. Obviously, I was completely happy to give him the money, but I was totally paralysed and so he just ripped the bag from me and off they ran. Moments later, I realised that in the bag were our passports (who takes passports out to dinner!!!!!) as well as the hotel key so off we set in half hearted pursuit shouting “por favour, passaportes”, which of course they ignored.

So, feeling like the biggest plonkers in the world, we trudged back to the hostel and got the owners involved as per Tom’s post. And apart from my self inflicted “lunacy wounds” *Tom: “Cowardice wounds”* (which are now healed but were quite impressive for the first week) and our on-going sense of paranoia, there are no long-term effects.

Hey ho. You lives you learns.



  1. I’m so sorry to hear about your bad experience. A lot of people told us about this problems before we travel to Quito last summer. Some friends had a similar experience, so on the second week of their trip they hired a private driver who showed them all the city and he even took them to Mitad del Mundo. We did exactly the same. It felt much safer to go around the city with a local driver to show us around, he also let us know about certain insecure areas of the city . I highly recommend this service. The driver was very kind with us and it wasn’t expensive at all!

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