Safety in Ecuador
How to Survive in Quito,
10 Simple Rules!
Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is located in the Andes at altitude 2 8000 m. ASL, where despite the equator the temperatures reach just 19 degrees in the day and 9 in the night.
How do you survive there with over 2,600,000 citizens?
When I was living in Quito, I just got tired of always being all the time aware of thieves, crime, and all of the stories from my friends... Each of them got robbed a couple of times in their life including on buses, in taxis, and in house robberies! But the most surprising is that on top of that, Ecuador is advertised as the best place for retirement. It can be true, but doesn't apply for the capital! I had to sacrifice part of my freedom just to be safe here. I stopped jogging after 6 p.m., wearing nice clothes or jewellery, going out alone during the nights, and many times I had to use a taxi just to avoid danger on the streets!
Check Out Our 10 SIMPLE RULES which will help you to avoid a robbery together with the Photo Reportage below which is part of the Project "Ecuador in Real Life".
1. Don't be Distinguished
It's the first and the most important rule. The less you differ from the environment, the less you attract criminals.
Skirts and dresses are cool, but the capital is dominated by blue jeans and dark colors. You might feel that it's too warm to wear those kinds of clothes... However, here it's a necessity! Forget about jewellery and fancy watches, no one wears them on the streets anyway. Blonde hair is cute, but you'd better cover it with a cap. Blue eyes shouldn't be a problem, especially behind sun glasses. You might need to consider taking in some sun... or you will need to get used to guys' whistles on the streets.
Remember the less you distinguish yourself from others, the less you call the attention of criminals which love foreigners!
The I-Phone is trendy, however here only few people can afford it. What you can best do is to sell it! Or just leave it at home and buy another cheaper one. This way you will avoid robbery while picking up the phone on the street. Also, you need to know, that some people have been followed by criminals trying to steal their I-Phones!
If you have a full frame or some with big lenses, it's best to hide it in a simple shopping bag. A big camera bag will call too much attention. Also, you need to be careful where you are using it. Remember that someone can always pull it out of your hand, or follow you to "borrow" it later on!
Never leave valuable things in view. Also remember you will discover the value of some things after you lose them. Here even drying laundry can be attractive for your neighbours, who might want to use it on an "Open Source" basis... Therefore, you need to always bring it into the house for the night. Also, when you are leaving the house for a couple of days, don't leave anything visible from the windows, unless you live in a luxury neighbourhood with electric fences, monitoring and guards!
Everyone knows that you shouldn't leave valuable things in the car. However, here you need to lock the doors inside just after getting in! Also you should hide all laptops, cameras, and other valuable things between old clothes. Don't trust the signs on the streets. In Ecuador the strongest car is often the one which has a priority. Moreover, in some places it's better to not drive in the night, because of the possibility of being robbed with guns!
Getting robbed on a bus is everyday life here! Therefore, never sit in the back, as it's the favourite place for theft! The best thing you can do is stay next to the driver, keep all your things close by, and put your hand over your bags. Remember to be relaxed, as your stress can call the attention of criminals!
It's nothing new, that robberies can happen even in a taxi. Here foreigners are at the most risk. It happens to be that the taxi drivers are cooperating with criminals. When the opportunity arises they let them get in to rob you! Of course everything is masked as an accident. Therefore, only use taxis with monitoring, which should be visible in a right corner. You may send a text message to one of your friends with the registration number of a car and inform the driver about this at the same time. Also Easy Taxi is known as being secure.
Never come back from the party by walking! Even if it is just a few streets... better use a verified taxi. Also do not trust your new friends, especially if you met them while drinking and they are offering you a lift!
9. Self Confidence
Despite the high risk of robbery you need to be relaxed and look confident. When you see some suspicious people you need to keep walking in your chosen direction, avoiding confrontation, or look at them aggressively with evil eyes, if they are in your way.
Remember that your life is more worth more than an I-Phone! Here some of the murders have a robbery background... and detection of criminals is very low.
How is everyday life in Quito?
Check Out our Photo Reportage!
" It's not a prison, it's just an electric fence", here it's a necessity!
"Historic Centre of Quito". In the background is visible the most dangerous district... Panecillo.
"I will clean your shoes for one dollar, Madam". In Ecuador it happens that streets are the kids' school.
"Small earthquakes are very common in Ecuador", usually they cause a lot of dust.
"During the rainy season storms arrive unexpectedly in the evenings;" however, they don't last long.