Well, things didn't go exactly to plan on our first day in Ecuador. Without going into too much detail (I've already relived the events when writing in my personal journal and by recounting the tale on insurance documents) our camera, additional lens and money was stolen from my bag while on a bus. We were travelling from Mancora in Peru to Baños in Ecuador, the long journey involved three buses and a couple of stops and was knackering to say the least. At some point on the second bus while I caught a few winks my bag was dragged from under my seat and our camera, lens and money (nearly £1000 total value) was taken. The thief was clever enough to leave the purse and camera bag inside and placed a water bottle in the camera case to mimic the weight of the camera and bulk it out so I wouldn't notice, which I didn't until we arrived at our hostel several hours later. Upon realising that the camera was missing I felt a wave of emotion, my heart sank and of course tears welled up. I was just so angry at myself for letting it happen. Why didn't I padlock the zips on the bag? Why didn't I keep the bag on my lap instead of by my feet? How could I let this happen in broad daylight? Craig was brilliant and consoled me, reminding me that of course they are only material things and can be replaced. Thankfully the thief had left my credit card and passport inside the purse, surely realising that stealing these would provide too much hassle to profit from. We were passed from pillar to post in finding the correct place to file a report but eventually with the help of a local man able to translate we obtained a police report and the bus company were notified. In the evening Craig treated me to a lovely dinner to try and cheer me up, despite realising that we no longer had a camera to photograph our trip he was surprisingly positive and didn't for one second let the events bring him down.
The following day was devoted to printing and organising insurance documents. We each spoke to our families which cheered me up as it always does while we are away and we ate pizza in our hotel room with a view to the hills of Baños and a distant waterfall. Our beloved friends Sarah and Lee surprised us by depositing £100 in my account to make up for some of the losses that we'd incurred which made me cry happy tears. It's in moments like that that you wish you could magic yourself home to give the people you love big hugs.
The next day fed up of (my) moping we decided to catch a bus to the 'Swing At The End Of The World'. The bus wound its way up the narrow roads to the top of a hill and we paid the $1 entry fee. The swings are attached to a rickety looking tree house which is set just over a cliff edge, when swung out you hover over the edge and can see amazing scenic views. I was a little apprehensive at first, I could see people being swung erratically by the men employed to push you manually and the only thing holding you in was a tiny piece of rope. Despite the fears I decided to go for it and even managed to hold my arms out. It was scary but exhilarating and just what I needed to take my mind off everything. Craig went so high on his turn and loved it. We embraced the beautiful surroundings before returning to town where we were reunited with our buddy Carl for dinner. In the time since we'd last saw him in Lima he had flown to the Galapagos while we had trekked Santa Cruz, it was lovely to catch up.
We had planned to go cycling with Carl the next day but Craig woke up with a tummy bug and was feeling really poorly. Typically it was a beautiful sunny day outside and I couldn't help but think how our luck had been particularly bad since we entered Ecuador. We spent the day indoors while Craig tried to sleep it off. As we were now on a tight schedule we couldn't spend any more time in Baños which was a shame as it looked like just our sort of place, beautiful landscapes abound, fun outdoor activities and a characterful town. The following morning we met Carl and caught a coach onwards to Quilotoa, I spent the majority of the journey munching on colourful sweet taffy brought at a market stall.
When I shared what had happened on social media at the time I got some very heartwarming responses and was surprised to hear so many stories of theft while travelling. It really helped me to feel like I wasn't alone. Have you experienced anything similar personally?
A Few Words and A Little Advice;
When travelling on coaches and buses for long periods of time you can easily let your guard down, especially if like us you have been travelling for multiple months. Staying vigilant can be difficult when you're exhausted from several long journeys in a row. I'd suggest buying a small lock for your day bag to lock the zips together to make life harder for any thief. Also, never put your day bag in the overhead storage shelf on a bus. If possible keep your bag on your lap or on the floor but with the straps wrapped around your legs so it can't be sneakily dragged away. If you are wearing a jacket or trousers with pockets that can be zipped up then I'd suggest keeping your purse with passport and money on your person* and possibly your phone/iPod too.
*since going through the insurance process I learned that all the cash that was stolen from me wouldn't be covered as it was not 'on my person'. I received a payment of £250 from my insurer for the camera and lenses and was the maximum amount that they could offer. Make sure you have excellent travellers insurance and read the small print thoroughly. If possible buy additional insurance for valuable items such as a camera as the £250 we received didn't go very far at all in buying a new DSLR.
🎥 Ecuador video:
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