My destination is a twenty-minute walk when you walk briskly, and the trip navigates some unsavory and unattractive areas. So one does walk briskly, which makes it difficult to note carefully the landmarks that will be needed to assure return home, especially when walking at the same brisk pace.

I have been told, repeatedly and by many, that Quito is one of the most dangerous cities in the world, especially for tourists. A two-month stint with UNESCO doesn’t distinguish me from the hordes of American tourists, mostly those taking a gap year, who flock briefly to the language schools here before heading off to hike Patagonia.

I take precautions. I carry no purse, no backpack, nothing of value that isn’t carefully hidden on my person. I do not go out after dark. I walk briskly with purpose. It gives me some comfort until, a week into my job, I arrive to find my supervisor in tears . Her son was stabbed and robbed earlier in broad daylight on the sidewalk in front of the office as she looked on. I continue the daily walk. Public transit, including cabs, is riskier even for the locals.

It is a blessing to escape to the ocean for a long weekend.

Photo by Nathalie Marquis on Unsplash

November 2009

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