So I live in Ecuador now, about that…

Warning: Mom and other people prone to worrying, please take a deep breath and remember that I am alive and well before reading this post. And then maybe repeat that process when you finish.

It has been almost two months now since I moved to Ecuador, and I’m not going to lie to you, I’m feeling pretty impressed with myself for not having gotten myself killed yet. Ok, maybe “killed” is a bit extreme, but Quito is not exactly the safest place.

Quito, Ecuador

I have friends who have been kidnapped, attacked with beer bottles, mugged, strangled, tied up in their houses and robbed by men with machetes, held at gunpoint, had human feces thrown on them as a distraction while they were robbed, and the list goes on and on. These are not friends of friends or sister’s cousins ex-boyfriend’s, these are the stories of my close friends. These are the stories of blonde females in Ecuador.

The danger factor was the biggest adjustment for me in moving here. In Asia, my appearance made me stand out from the locals, but I always felt that they found me intriguing, sort of like Drew Barrymore and ET in ET (I’m ET in this metaphor, not Drew Barrymore, just to clarify). Here it’s not quite the same, my appearance makes me a target for thieves and a waste receptacle for nauseating amounts of machismo.

But you know what? It took a few weeks, but I am finding my happy place now, but it’s been quite a journey the last 2 months to get here.

Enjoying the Quito skyline from a hammock on my roof

With all the thugs and the danger, I have also been humbled by some of the kindest, most generous people. And that is what I want to focus on.

In one of my first hostels, I met my adoptive family in Ecuador; Gabi and Rudy and their daughter Chanti. All three of them are completely off their rockers and I could not love them more for it. They run a hotel on the beach about 6 hours from Quito in a place called Same, and were visiting Quito on business. I had only been in Quito for a few days when I met them, and I think they could smell my lost puppy dog vibe from a mile away. It was perfect timing in the way I met them, as they were debating something when I walked past them one night, and they stopped me to ask if I knew what the capital of Switzerland was. I mean seriously, what are the odds that two people are debating the capital of Switzerland and the person that happens to be walking by at just that moment has the last name Berner? Bern is the capital of Switzerland. So as fate would have it I found my crazy Ecuadorian family.

Mis Padres

They invited me to come stay with them for Carnival, so I went to Same on my first trip in Ecuador outside of Quito. I moved to Quito as I had scored a job here as a University professor. (I could have just said “teacher” but I really wanted to say University professor. I wear corduroy pants and cardigans with elbow patches and thick black-framed reading glasses and the best part is I’m not kidding!)  I had started an intensive course at the University about two days after arriving to prepare me to teach, and as it was kicking my ass I was looking forward to relaxing on a chilled out beach.

The beach at Same (sah-may)

I was greeted by one of the coolest things I have ever seen–a double rainbow forming a circle around the sun. There had been no rain. No clouds. Only a rainbow, appearing out of nowhere as if it just felt like saying hello. (At first I wrote “as if the sky had just fallen in love.” But then I felt nauseous and deleted it. You’re welcome.)

This picture doesn't even begin to do it justice as it was taken from a phone.

From the moment I arrived here, I had been hearing about how crazy Ecuadorian men can be, and Same introduced me to my first Ecuadorian stalkers. But I don’t blame Same. I blame the men. For being insane. (Not all men, calm down. Just…a lot of them.) But just as every girl I talk to has a story about a time they were robbed etc., they also have a story about some guy (or 20) who they thought was cool until the next day when he snapped and decided he owned her and couldn’t breath without her and everything turned crazy.  And yes I realize I am making light of a potentially dangerous situation, but I realized that if I was going to stay here, I was going to have to release some of my fears and try to find humor in the things I can’t control.

But the main reason I mentioned the stalkers is to mention  how I met my first male Ecuadorian friends (which is like trying to find a pot of gold here, as culturally guys and girls are very rarely “just friends”).

Giant margs for Edgars bday

So here is the abbreviated story of my stalker…

And by “here” I mean in my next post. I’m tired and this bad boy’s getting lengthy…

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25 thoughts on “So I live in Ecuador now, about that…

  1. El profesor más estimado,

    ¡Tenga por favor cuidado! El pelo rubio, la belleza excepcional, los pantalones de la pana, los suéteres con los remiendos del codo y los cristales enmarcados negros gruesos conducirán a cualquier hombre salvaje, Ecuadorians córneo no justo. Usted es precioso a así que devastarían a mucha gente y nos si cualquier cosa sucedió siempre a nuestra gema preciosa.

    ¡Si usted consigue una ocasión, la poder de a de macis puede ser una gran inversión!!

    Todo mi amor,

    Butz

  2. (About the comment above…WHAAAAAAAAT?? hahaha)
    Well my dear Shannon…being attacked with beer bottles here, is like a barnitzba in Israel hahaha I’m kidding. My country is really beauty, yeah, it could be a little danger….but: If you like xtreme life, this is a place for you!! 😀
    ps. I don’t remember which was the homework, but at the end, I don’t care!
    I enjoyed viewing your page 😀 I am a new fan…You rule ‘teacher’ bless!! 😉

  3. It bothers me when people say everybody can do everything that they want. That is false because we are or coud be affected by their actions. It’s a pity our city is more dangerous than bebore it was. Furthermore, thinking about someone could be attacked because of thier appearance is frightening. Is that my business?

    In my opinion it is mandatory every citizen, in Quito,Ecuador, is conscious about delinquency and the terrible image that it makes about our country. Authorities must make Quito a safe city. We want Ecuador become a excellent tourist destiny. How will we do it? Being kind and generous?. Tourist people say that many times, but are we like that?. I think we must improve ourselves and not say any more: “that is no my problem”. We have to refuse an unacceptable behavior and watch out who is around us. However, It is crucial not use our fears as excuse for not showing hospitality.

    Additionally, many ecuadorian men are chouvinistic. We have lived in a patriarchal system so that way of acting is no a surprise here. Even though, I hope you find educated, kind and interesting men next time.

    Take care you.

  4. I think that nowdays the delincuence is its grow up not only here in the capital. where are no so many places that you can be save, you should always be careful in al the places becosue you dont know when a thief can appear.

    Is unfortunately that this can pass to tourist, because not only the Quito looks bad all the country would be affect the image of the ecuatorians.

    i think that the municipality should put more attencion about this situations.

  5. Quito is very dangerous. Delincuence is extremely agressive in the downtown. Please don´t lost calm. You look like VERY a foreign woman for this reason it is probably you didn´t feel safe in the first months in Quito, but you can know safe places.

    Every city in the world has bad things but Most of Quiteños are good people. Welcome to Quito 🙂 !

  6. XD : ) : )

    let’s see. I know that Ecuador is not the safest city, but we must try to be careful and know where we’re going out.

    to prevent accidents, for example when we go to the party, we try to have fun but also take care of friends. for the tourists is a little more difficult because, the people are charged more for expenses, or they also want to attack. or something………….. well almost all unknown cities are dangerous,…………just more careful when you leave… bye Shannon

  7. Hi Shannon.

    It is sad but true that lately has become dangerous Quito and especially for foreigners. Visitors who have a different accent or have blond hair are clearly identified as targets for thieves. This probably happens because of the lack or the weakness of laws that can punish the crime and the lack of seriousness of the Judicial Authorities.

    But that is not the only thing, there are also honest people and of good will who want the progress of this country and work hard to accomplish it. There are also beautiful places in the highlands, rainforest and the Coast, and that is the case of “Same,” a beach where locals and foreigners show up for surfing on the weekends.

    Reaching a different country always involves a change of life to different cultures, where not only the soil is different but also the language, food, climate and customs.
    It is impossible not to find surprises, but to enjoy the most, it is important to be alert work with enthusiasm and walk with God’s blessing.

    Good luck on your new job
    Ximena Velasco

  8. 😉
    Ecuador is a nice place to visit because It has the most wonderful places to visit and enjoy.
    In this country you can find more than one reason to remain here.
    It`s difficult to describe how to keep security by oneself, but It`s a good idea to go out with friends and It`s a good point of view to take care about when you meet new people.
    Ecuador is amazing ,..,.,

    Giovanni

  9. noooo,q quito is not very dangerous you know, in my 18 years living here, no one had stolen me, and also I always use the cellphone or only walk around the streets listen music. But also you have to know what places are dangerous and you could find a thief or not. the central zone here is the most dangerous part for me, because is the jail, La marin, El panecillo( that is a beatifull part), and Impiales thta is like a shopping center of stolen goods.

    it is very good that you have a new family here,and also you trip to Same. Tonbsupa, Jama, Mompiche and other beaches are very beatifull and you will meet new people also. But also costeños are very catty, they know how to take advantage of somethign for me you have to take care more there than in Quito

  10. HEy!! Shannon

    It´s Your favorite student Ivan LOL..!!! All that you post here are some true. I used to hate walking alone when someday I got stolen with a knife. Now that i know how agresive the streets are. You should be careful when your are alone. I hope that those things didn´t gave you a horrible look how your Capital is. Quito is a wonderful City I´m glad that you still Here and trying to survive here.

    I hope you keep traveling and visiting another cities, so you can see how my country has a lot to give to the tourist.

    By the way thanks for being a great teacher with me and so patient with me and my crazy thing during class..!!! good luck in everything that you made!!!! =]

    Ivan =]

  11. Hello teacher.

    I read this, and I agree with you, many people is crazy… but it`s not only in Ecuador, chauvinism is so common here, the unique thing that women (not only foreing ones) can do is being strong and say STOP to that chauvinistic men.

    On the other hand, I consider that if we travelled abroad, we should be awared that discrimination exist…. at this point I could say the world is crazy… many latin ones had even been killed, and the unique reasson is being “different”… Maybe it has been even worse to you here in Ecuador due to crime…..Maybe it couldn´t help you… but most ecuadorians are friendly people.
    Step by step your are going to get used to… ant I´m sure the future will be better for you here or in another place.

    Hugs

  12. Ecuador is safe but if you meet the correct peolple. You have to learn how to know when a person is honest, the first thing is that you have to look at her or his eyes you will se how honest is. The second thing is that you have to take care of your things always because there are many bada people that don`t understand that steal itsn`t a good way to take money and the last thing is that ou have to trust in the people that love you and yhey should help and guide you when you are in problems in the country, maybe friens of cec or students !!! take care and enjoy Ecuador

  13. I am not sure when you arrived to Ecuador, because you told us that you are one year here. But in this post you give us to understand that you are from the beginning of the current year.

    We know that you can not go unnoticed because it shows clearly that you’re foreign. Of course our country is dangerous, but it depends the places, schedules, people that you frequent.

    BTW, When I was studying english at Gran Rapids – Michigan USA, six years ago, someone tried to rob me in the street in broad daylight. The same thing happened to me many years ago in Colombia. As someone told me there “No hay que dar papaya” , It means don’t not lead with your actions and events that happen problems to you

    It was a pleasure to met you. I have realized you are a special person with many qualities, good teacher, good singer, someone with wanderlust, writter, and I supposed many other things to discover.

    Glad to meet you have a good trip to Chile.
    We hope to see you again!!!!

  14. I’m glad you came to Ecuador. Its a mix of feelings when you see your country through someone else’s eyes. I’m glad you are liking it, and finding humor in everything (mostly guys). Its sad that our country is getting to become so dangerous. But like my friends husband always says, you have to be street smart, always been aware of your surroundings. There’s beauty and craziness in my country. Maybe that’s is why its so special. Welcome to Ecuador.

  15. Quito is don’t a really safe city but the people is the better of the world, all ecuatorians want demonstrate that Ecuador is a beautiful country.
    If you what have new experiences the Ecuador is the better country of do tourism. In Ecuador you can visit three different types of environments in few time.

  16. Hello,
    It is unfortunate that the first experiences in Quito were tragic although our local authorities are campaigning to promote respect to the foreigner living in our beautiful capital city.
    I share with you, a true friend is a hidden gem and I hope you find some more and they show you a lot of good things of my dear Quito-bonito.
    Our beaches are beautiful, when the end of this cycle I recommend that you travel to the province of Manabi and you will discover the best beaches in Ecuador.

  17. Hi Shannon. I understand what you mean because I was robbed last week while I was driving my car. But this country has a lot of kind people who can help you when you need assistance. Ecuador’s beaches are beautiful like Same and you can try delicious food. I think that it’s interesting how you met those people. I’m sure that you are a risky person. Finally you will love this country and you will get used to living here.

  18. Each country has the same problems, i know Quito could be danger but if you know how to take care of you nothing will hapen, i mean not go by night alone, don´t drink with stranger and don´t go out with expensive stuff….. with all this advices if you are victim of a robbery don´t put resistance… jejeje . Take care

  19. Ok,.. I know it.

    Well beginig Quito is my city, I always try to say the beautiful that it is., I know that when somebody comes a new pleace, you can fell strange but lets me give you the wellcome at the most warm and frendly “ciudad de Quito”, it is a nice place where you can find frendly people and exotic places everything do you need you can find in Quito in spite the fact Quito is a cosmopolitan city and it cuold have some of the crime but you shouldn`t be worry too muchs becouse this is comun in many countries.
    So you take it easy and enjoy of a new city becouse you are one of the most great guest.

  20. Quito is not too dangerous, only in some places that people almost never walking specially at night like La Marin or some streets in downtown.
    U need to take care about people who is walking behind u and always looking around.
    I think that South America is dangerous. But more dangerous with emigrant because that people doesn’t know anything about the culture and where is a safe place to walk.
    In downtown there are a lot of Municipal Polices but they are some damned lazy…
    And I recommend u. Walk with confident people and take care specially at night.

  21. Well, da crazy crime and killing for fun is everywhere…
    U dont have 2 generalize. Everyone at some point in the past, have been victims of crime or something similar.
    But Quito has many more things by which one can highlight
    Remember, you could meet your Ecuadorian family and it is really good 🙂

  22. did someone really attack you with beer bottles????? that’s new. I’ve heard of knives, sticks, tubes or guns but not beer bottles.
    crime is definitively the most frustrating thing about Quito, but we must learn to live with it, after a while you get used to it and even longer you are not afraid to face a thief.
    fortunatelly I have never been robbed, but I think It is because I’m not blond, I don’t have blue eyes and especially beacuse I don’t like to wear corduroys….so my advice for you is that you should change you hair color and use cantact lenses……..ahhh…..and just if you can….try a little suntan……..jejeje

    Cecibel Morales

  23. Quito isn’t sure place in Ecuador, but if you take precautions, you can enjoy a lot of my city. You should go out in a group of people and you should’nt be alone in the night for your segurity.

  24. hi, Shannon
    Hahaha nice warnings for your family, but you must accept the most of Ecuadorian people is nice and that crime rates also affect us, so I hope you hadn´t gotten a bad first impression about us. I haven´t been in Same but I can imagine how beautiful it is, like many places in Esmeraldas. Finding a nice and warm foreign couple in Ecuador is so common, I think it happens because the environment pushes up to feel at home they try to give back some love. Stalkers really annoy me too, I hate it when you can even breathe without feeling someone whispering in your ear.

  25. Hi Shannon…

    I am Maribel (Academic 3).

    Your pictures are amazing!
    I did not know that you feel scared about the thieves in Quito. It is real but I you arrive on time to your home and you do not go alone it is save.

    I hope that you feel more save in Quito and you enjoy being a teacher because you are an excelent University Professor! 🙂 and of course you are a good singer!

    And I would like to ask you how did you wear before? Because I only saw you wearing orduroy pants, cardigans with elbow patches and thick black… XD

    So I have to say that I really enjoy your classes and it was a pleasure to be your student.

    Enjoy Ecuador because it has a lot of places to visit!

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