Although we were careful with our belongings, we must have become complacent during our travels. Bad luck finally caught up with us and we became the victims of theft.
We arrived home to our apartment in Manta in the early evening after a long day of travel. We had begun at 6:45 with a taxi ride on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos to catch a bus to the ferry that took us across to Baltra Island. From there we flew back to the Ecuadorian mainland into the large port city of Guayaquil and grabbed a taxi to reach the bus station. After buying our tickets we scrambled a bit to find our departure point and made the bus with only minutes to spare. We settled in to our comfortable seats for the three-and-a-half hour ride back to Manta and the last taxi taking us (finally!) home.
We arrived home tired but very happy with our visit and began unpacking our carry-ons, piling up dirty laundry and putting our things away. And then we turned our attention to our backpacks. With a sinking feeling I pulled out the bag with the charging cords (camera, I-pod, Kindle) and didn’t see my camera wrapped in its bright blue woven bag from Guatemala. I pulled out the charging cord and mouse for my computer and, with a slow, sick feeling growing in my stomach, made sure all the compartments were empty. I compulsively patted my backpack front and back. I looked around at my belongings strewn across the bed, checked under each item and verified that my computer, wrapped in its green padded bag, was also gone. I twisted my backpack side to side as if my computer might magically reappear but the bag was still empty – the camera and computer still gone.
We had taken turns taking pictures on our cameras of all our sight-seeing in the Galapagos Islands and had carefully downloaded the photos each night when we returned to our hotel in case one of the cameras was damaged or lost. Our Wi-Fi was so slow that uploading our photos to Dropbox, our cloud-based storage file, to back them up wasn’t really an option. However, we thought we’d pretty much covered the bases…
When did the theft occur? Our best guess is that it happened on the bus from Guayaquil to Manta.
The first suspicious incident happened when an official looking man asked us to move from our assigned seats to more inviting seats towards the front of the bus which we complied with. However, the rightful passengers appeared shortly and requested their assigned seats. At this time an official in the uniform of Riena Del Camino, the bus line, assisted us and back we went to our original seats. Both times our attention was divided between picking up our backpacks and gathering up the items we had removed and then stumbling along the narrow aisle while curious onlookers watched.
The second suspicious incident happened when I noticed that my pack had fallen on its back by my feet and was slightly pushed under the back seat rather than leaning against the bus side on my left where I’d first placed it. Thinking that the bus movement had shifted its balance I moved it upright again without checking the contents.
The important questions are: “What have we really lost?”
- One of two of our fairly new computers with the contents mostly backed up and recoverable. One of two of our small cameras with over half of our photos of the amazing Galapagos.
- Our “travel virginity.” In return we gained the realization that we were singled out as vulnerable targets.
- And, maybe, our faith in the travel gods. Our future journeys may always include less trust in the people around us. We’ll be more watchful, more guarded and possibly more suspicious.
We live a minimalistic lifestyle as long-term travelers with each item carefully selected and chosen. But the loss of a computer and camera is much more than the loss of a few of our possessions. It’s about the diminution of our confidence in ourselves and the people around us who we had formerly greeted with open smiles and trust.
Something’s changed. Call us less naïve and complacent…. and tally up a small win for the dark side.
By Anita and Richard