The cool thing about traveling is that you meet people who have come or gone from all sorts of places. I’ve met Brits, Americans, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, Danes, and more. Some have come from Columbia and are heading down, while others are just starting their trip. Still others have come from Argentina and are heading up to Columbia. Regardless, everyone has been welcoming, open, and friendly. So imagine my surprise when I heard some of these insane and harrowing travel tales from my new international friends …
STORY 1 – COOKIE WAFER
On my first morning, over my first cup of coffee in Ecuador, a new friend from Calgary told me of how he took a bus from Bogata, Columbia to Ecuador last Thursday (as in, May 22). As you do when you travel, he met a few people and got to chatting on the bus. Some time into the trip, close to the border, they offered him a chocolate cookie wafer. Next thing he knows it’s Saturday and he is waking up alone, in a hotel room with nothing other than his phone.
Drugged and robbed, and blanking on 2 days of his life. Yikes. That travel advisory for Canadians about that border is very serious.
STORY 2 – BAGGAGE
During my second cup of coffee, on the same first day, another new friend shared that she has lost her bag at the airport. The airline had misplaced it somehow in Miami. She had been sleeping in the same clothes, and couldn’t book any tours until she had her bag. Lucky for her she got her bag two days later; they had told her it would be two weeks!
Travel tip: always pack a spare change of clothes, a toothbrush and urgent toiletries in your carry-on. Ya, it’s super annoying. But trust me – I’ve traveled a lot, and have friends who travel for work. You don’t want to be left with nothing. It ruins your travel mojo.
STORY 3 – THE MAP
During our food tour, an Australian girl told us about her friend who had just arrived in Quito and was walking the streets. A man approached her suddenly, out of breath, and looked like he was on the brink of tears. He was lost, he said, and asked her to help him. She took his map, and helped him, but at some point lost completely control of her actions. She was still conscious, but there must have been a drug on the map that caused her to essentially become a zombie. They took her to an ATM and told her to withdraw $1,000 – and she did.
So all that being said I am pretty lucky to be here, and to be here safely. My hostel has been amazing, the people I have met friendly and kind, and we all stuck together in Quito.
I’m not sharing the stories to make anyone worry about me (though I’m sure it’s too late), it just goes to show you that you always have to have your ears peeled and eyes open … and I definitely won’t be accepting chocolate wafers from anyone, anytime soon!