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The Ecuadorian Robbery

And The Long Trip Home

DISCLAIMER: This story gets intense at times. Nothing too crazy, but want to give you a heads up just in case.

It's another beautiful day in Quito

The sun is shining

The weather is warm

And Mount Pichincha watches over the city

She smiles today

I've been in Ecuador for almost a month now

And while I came para aprender Español (to learn Spanish)

My time here has brought me many places

From the peaks of mountains

To the depths of jungles

And all the rain forests in between

I've seen the beauty this country has to offer

Plus I've made some good friends along the way

Still though

There's one type of landscape I haven't yet experienced in Ecuador

The beach

And considering tomorrow will be my last full day here

Now's the time to go

So I call up my friend Connie

And see if she wants to take a trip

She's down

We head into town

And talk to some locals about what we're trying to do

'Queremos ir a la playa. ¿Dónde debemos ir?'

'Hay Playa Atacames. Es un viaje seis horas en autobús'

They tell us our best bet is a beach called Playa Atacames

6 hours away

By bus

Not ideal

But hey

With my time here quickly coming to an end

What better way to spend my last full day in Ecuador

Than relaxing on the beach

I'm in

I turn to Connie

She gives me the nod

She's in

With thoughts of adventure in our minds

We head to the bus station

The walk isn't far

But it is pleasant

Shops and parks line the way

And we let them guide us to our destination

When we arrive

We walk up to the ticket counter

And ask when the next bus leaves for Atacames

'Hola, vamos a Atacames. ¿Cuándo pasa el próximo autobús?'

'El siguiente sale a las ocho y el siguiente sale a la medianoche.'

We hear that the next bus leaves at 8pm

And the one after that leaves at midnight

So Connie and I talk it over

We decide to take the midnight bus

Figuring it will be cool to get there as the sun is rising



We hand over 13 dollars and buy the tickets


Por favor lleguen aquí a las once y media

Con sus pasaportes

No una copia de ellos'

We're told to arrive back here by 11:30pm

With our passports

Not a copy of them

Connie and I give a thumbs up to the person behind the counter

We agree to meet back at the bus station by 11:30pm

And then go our separate ways to pack some stuff

I head home to where I'm staying

Along with a bathing suit and towel

I grab my passport

I grab some cash

And I grab my phone

For pictures

I wonder why I can't bring a copy of my passport

But if that's what the person at the bus station said

Then it must be true

Because who would be naive enough

To not trust a person

They met at a bus station...

I kill some time until 11pm rolls around

And then start my walk back to meet Connie

We both get there right around the same time

And secure our spots in line

20 minutes after arriving

We're seated on the bus

And 10 minutes after that

The bus leaves the station

Right on time

The ride is typical for Ecuador

Lots of twists

Lots of turns

And LOTS of bumps

I sleep for most of the 6 hour trip

Wanting to be rested for a long day at the beach

When I wake up

I check my phone

It says 5:30am

We're almost there

I nudge Connie to let her know

She starts getting her stuff in order

A few minutes before 6am

We pull into the Atacames bus station


And the old bus breathes a sigh of relief

A handful of drowsy travelers gather their belongings

The doors open

And the bus empties

Connie and I walk outside

It's still dark

We walk into town

We see shops


Internet cafes

But none of them are open

The small beach town is still asleep

We walk to the beach

To watch the sunrise

Just like we had planned

We take off our shoes

Find a spot that's just right

And plop down in the sand

Our backs to the tired town

We sit

And we talk

We talk about our time in Ecuador

The things we saw

The things we learned

The friends we made

The sun starts to rise

And the warmth of the nostalgic conversation

Can be felt

Both inside and out

So calm

So peaceful

So relahhh

I feel something around my neck

I see an arm

It's not Connie's

I feel a sharp pain

I look down

The arm has a broken glass bottle to my neck

My Spanish leaves me


'No digas nada'

The arm tells me not to say anything

The bottle presses harder

I look over

Connie has a bottle to her neck too

We see the panic in each other's eyes

We feel the pressure of the broken glass against our necks

And we watch as hands go through our bags

The hands take what they came for

The arms loosen around our necks

And the people they're connected to run off

Still in shock

I get up

And run after them






I sprint through the sand

Full speed

With tears starting to roll down my cheeks

They could have killed me

But they didn't

And I'll make sure they regret that

Wishful thinking though

Life isn't a Hollywood movie

And I'm not a comic book hero

No matter how fast I run

I'm not gaining on them quick enough

They enter a wooded area

And I decide to stop the pursuit

Because who would be naive enough

To follow Ecuadorian robbers

Into a wooded area...

My phone

My wallet

My passport

All gone

I run back to Connie

'Are you okay?'

'Yes, I think so'

'We need to find police'

We scamper off of the beach

Shouting for help

There's a police truck nearby

We run to it in a frenzy

They see us

And ask what happened

'¿Que pasó?'

'Algunos ladrones se llevaron nuestras cosas ¡Necesitamos ayuda!'

We tell them that some thieves had taken our stuff

And that we need help

They look at us

Then at each other

Then back at us


They tell us to get in the truck

It's like a convertible

Basically an Ecuadorian Jeep Wrangler

'¿Por dónde se fueron?'

They ask which way they went

And as soon as I point towards the wooded area

The driver stomps on the gas

The acceleration presses us into our seats

As the truck speeds through the beach town

The driver turns on the siren

It's loud

The passenger turns on Spanish music

It's louder

And all four us keep our eyes peeled for any sign of the thieves

In the distance

We see someone waving their arms above their head

Indicating that they may have a clue

The driver notices

He says something to his partner in the passenger's seat

And then zooms over to the good samaritan

As we get closer

We see that the good samaritan is standing on a dock

The driver pulls onto the dock

Stops the truck

And asks if the good samaritan has seen any thieves

'¿Has visto algunos ladrones?'

'Si si si. ¡Ellos fueron allá en el agua!'

The good samaritan points to a long inlet

And tells us that the thieves went into the water over there

The driver looks towards the inlet

Then out to the open ocean

There's a lone fishing boat about 500 feet from shore

He hops out of the truck

Waves his arms

And motions for the boat to come to the dock

Connie and I look at each other

This is getting wild

The fishing boat docks

And both police officers speak with the captain

Connie and I see the captain look at us


Then nod his head

The police officers turn back towards the truck

They point at the boat


And tell us to get on board

Connie and I look at each other again

Are we really going to do this?


We get out of the truck

Walk over to the boat

And climb aboard

The captain fires up the engine

And we pull away from the dock to start our search

We enter the inlet

Our eyes scanning for any leads

Any clues


¡Veo algo!

The captain shouts that he sees something

We look over the side of the boat

And we see something floating in the water

It looks like a passport!

The captain casts a net to grab the object

He pulls it out of the water

It is a passport!


A faint glimmer of hope

I can feel my spirits rise

The captain hands me the passport

It's from the United States!

I open it up...

'Andrew Riley'



I can feel my spirits sink

I look up at the captain and shake my head

He frowns but is nice enough to continue the search

We look for another 20 minutes

No luck

The captain brings the boat back to the dock


Both police officers

And I

Hop off

'Buena suerte'

The captain wishes us good luck and heads back to his fishing post

We wave and say thank you

The police officers turn to us with a disappointed look

'Lo siento chicos

Les daremos un informe policial

Pero no hay nada mas podemos hacer'

They tell us they're sorry

And that they will provide us with a police report

But that there is nothing else they can do

So we get the reports

And head into town

I have to call my mom

And tell her what happened

But honestly

I'd rather just get robbed again

We find a phone cafe

We explain what happened and why we don't have any money

And we ask if we can please make a couple of phone calls

The owner is generous enough to say yes

I call some friends in Quito

And ask if they can wire us some money to