Happy New Year 2013! Here’s the third excerpt from my book when I was almost mugged for a second time in Quito, Ecuador. It comes from the third chapter The Buzz of Teaching Overrules. It was a vital moment in my trip because I started to question whether or not teaching English abroad was worth risking my life for, especially considering how much I was getting paid (below is a photo of my first cheque after a month’s work).
|$136 for a month’s work?
|It was a Sunday night when I got my second scare. I’d been to visit the Cuidad Mitad del Mundo; a city thirty kilometres outside Quito with a thick white line of the Equator painted on the floor. The only exciting parts were a massive rectangular stoned pillar with a metallic globe on top, and some fried tangy bananas and tender lamb joint I had in a restaurant along the steep hill on the way down.
Back in Quito I popped in for a beer in one of the bars in La Mariscal area and got chatting to a couple of expats from Australia. They’d been living in and out of Quito for a year and reminded me of the dangers.
“Yeah mate, gotta keep ya head down at this time of night, don’t go walking on ya tod now, get a cab if I were you,” said one as I mentioned leaving. I took his advice, but it made no difference.
As usual the streets were empty and silent, but I felt safe in a vehicle. The cabby stopped about thirty metres short of my flat’s entrance and I checked to see if anyone was about.
“No pasa nada – Don’t worry,” said the driver. The only sign of life was a harmless looking couple strolling along the side of the pavement nearest the buildings. They must be taking a romantic stroll, I thought.
I got out and strode near the road to avoid potential danger. The couple had sped up and drifted over. My nerves rose as memories of the last incident crept back. They darted closer, trying to block my path. I continued with my head down and hid my bag. My camera was inside.
“Escuchame, escuchame,” said the man, asking me to listen. I looked down and tried to pick up the pace, but it was useless; the couple had trapped me. The man stumbled towards me as he repeated “Escuchame, escuchame.”
He put his arm round my shoulders. My legs shook. I gazed up at his dark face, his bloodshot eyes were half closed; his breath stunk of alcohol and cigarettes. He mumbled something.
“No entiendo, no entiendo,” I said, stating I didn’t understand.
He made it clearer. He glanced quickly behind and then stared in my eyes.
“Escuchame, amigo.” I followed his eyes as they peered down towards his hand. He held a bread knife.
“Okay, Okay,” I said, panicking. I guessed he wasn’t asking if I had some butter for a sandwich. My legs shook even more as the beasty woman frisked my jacket and trousers. She was panting fast. I had no money, just my camera.
“No tengo nada! No tengo nada,” I said, remembering the first incident. This was different though; I was worried for my life.
Thinking back, I should have handed over my camera, but the way he was swaying suggested he’d forgotten he was robbing me. The beast had moved back and appeared more concerned about her lover.
“Lo siento, no tengo nada,” I said, unsure why I was apologizing.
I was about to give over my bag when he squeezed and shook my hand, patted me on the shoulder, and shrugged in a drunken stupor as if to say, “Sorry mate, my mistake, have a good night now,” and they continued on their romantic stroll.
My hands were trembling as I unlocked the huge metal security gate to the flat. No one was up so I grabbed a beer and sat on my bed. Where was I living? How lucky had I been? I’d escaped unharmed again. These muggers needed some formal training. No wonder poor living conditions forced them to rob; what chances would they have in a job where they had to use their brain?
I felt angry and confused. Despite my flat being only thirty metres away, I should have known better than to walk alone at night. Part of me started to doubt risking my life to live abroad and teac
Thanks again to everyone who has bought my book! December has been my best month so far; reaching 3rd in the Biography – Travel best seller charts on the amazon.co.uk, 30th in the Asia section, and also breaking into the charts on amazon.com Asia and Biography Travel sections.