This is painful to talk about considering I just recently made a blog post about staying safe in Latin America, although I guess I wasn’t physically harmed. All of the new teachers are staying at a nice hotel in Quito for 7 days with all meals provided. The cafeteria is normally packed with our people and maybe one or two tables of businessmen.
Yesterday, after apartment hunting all morning, we came into the cafeteria and set our bags down on our table to reserve it, and then went up to the salad bar. When I came back to the table two minutes later, my purse was gone. This only goes to show that even in a secure hotel surrounded by coworkers, stuff can go missing down here. One of my friends was sitting at the table when the purse was stolen and didn’t even see the sneaky bandit take it! Someone later told me they saw two teenage girls who didn’t fit in hovering around the table; it was probably them.
I was lucky for many reasons. While they did get my iPod, 5 dollars, one debit card, and my driver’s license, the majority of my belongings were in my hotel room (debit cards, passport, blackberry, camera, etc.). I cancelled the card immediately, my friend gave me some replacement chapstick, I will buy a new iPod sometime in the next month, and I am going to the market today to get a new purse and wallet. Not too much of a hassle, just annoying because the stuff in that purse were the things I use everyday: eye drops, chapstick, my notebook, birth control pills, etc. At least I didn't get held up at gun point and wasn't physically harmed, right?
Lesson learned: when you feel most secure, surrounded by people you know in a relatively safe establishment, you might be most vulnerable.