About a week before Christmas, Brad, Tess, Jacob, and I set out to explore Quito a bit and charter some new territory. We hopped on the trolley, as we often do, with a plan in mind, and a rough outline of where we were going to go. A brief trolley ride, a little bit of a walk, and we ventured into the Hotel Quito area. Located near the United States Ambassador’s house, it was fun to explore the property, see the hotel pool, check out the garden and the view, and wish I had had my camera along. Of course, it was a glorious volcano sighting day, but I’m smart enough to know when to be cautious about hauling along the Nikon.
After our lovely little outing, we had lunch at a nearby restaurant, bemoaning the fact that soccer was on the televisions instead of American football. We wondered about the hamburger we were eating as it seemed a bit different, and I proudly shared with the family how I had finally accumulated enough change in my purse that it actually felt physically heavy. This was no small feat, considering it is extremely difficult to find change here, which actually translates to reduced spending at times simply because you only have a $20 bill and no one who is able to break it. After lunch, we headed back down the hill to continue our journey to a little coffee haunt and the downtown historical district.
At this point, we were waiting in a nearby Ecovia stop…basically, a little glassed-in station where you pay a 25 cents admittance, which then allows you to hop on the trolley and go to whatever stop you want. This particular stop was much busier than earlier in the day due to the recent ending of a soccer game at a nearby stadium. We contemplated exiting and flagging a taxi as trolley after trolley was stuffed to the brim. But, we had already paid our $1.00 for four people, so figured we’d wait it out and jump on one that could fit the four of us and still allow us to breathe.
So, as we wait, I am standing against a wall by the middle set of trolley entrance doors, just watching people and wondering how many trolleys we will need to watch go by until we decide to make our move. I notice a guy getting in my personal space, which tends to happen a fair amount in this city, but, this one seemed different. This actual trolley stop was not overly crowded, but he kept edging towards me and the alert signals in my brain were heightened to move away…so I did. Brad was down a bit further, kind of scoping out the first trolley doors, so I moved down by him, noting to him subtly that the dude was creepin’ me out, so we just kept our guard up as we finally decided to push our way onto the next trolley, squeezing in like proverbial sardines into a can.
Once on the trolley, we twisted, turned, and weaseled our way into a small space with Tessa and I near each other, and Brad and Jacob a bit separate but closer to the door. This was not by chance…Brad was carrying his tablet in a backpack as we needed a map of the area we were exploring, so the backpack was, essentially, being worn backwards (worn in the front) for security reasons…a typical adaptation here in Ecuador. Jacob then positioned himself in front of Brad in order to “sandwich” in the one thing of any monetary value we had on the trolley.
Tessa and I found ourselves a bit deeper in the trolley, standing room only, of course. Right next to us was an older woman, who caught my eye from the moment we started moving. At this point, even though you are tightly packed with what feels like a couple hundred of your non-closest friends, you still sway and tip as you traverse the trolley line. It is essential that you are holding on to something, the back of a chair, the provided hand rails above your head – you need to brace yourself in order to center your balance. I became acutely aware of this woman not being tall enough to reach the heightened rails, so, being that I am so helpful, I tried my best to continually shift around in order to provide her access to a base of support with the back of a chair, or the waist high railing that was at my back. Noticeably, she never did reach out to grab a support, which I found amazing as I myself rode the surfboard of the trolley.
As we continued to head toward our destination, Brad and I made eye contact across the trolley, not in that super romantic way, but in the “we’re making sure this guy next to us doesn’t take our stuff” kind of communication. Both our eyes widened in surprise when, at the next stop, the amazingly balanced older lady bolts through the sea of people and out the exit followed immediately by creepy guy. Within a moment, in what seemed to be the slow motion movie theater effect in action, I lift on my purse that had been strapped across my front in typical Ecuadorian safety fashion, only to find, to my dismay, that it was amazingly light. I had been robbed. Despite our diligence, our attentiveness, and the fact that I had been clutching my purse from the first trolley stop to the second, the inevitable had happened…
Watch for the next post: The Re-Enactment!