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We were robbed. By two men with a gun and a knife in front of our house in Cuenca, Ecuador. And this post has taken me two years to write.

The day after it happened I knew I would blog about it – I just didn’t realize it would take me so long.
We’ve referred to it in the comments of other posts and we’ve talked to many expats about it. And although I’ve tried a dozen times before I just couldn’t bring myself to live through that moment again. But it’s been long enough.

Here goes.

Our Armed Robbery Experience in Cuenca, Ecuador

June 2012. We were visiting friends for the evening and came home around 9 pm.  Our daughter Drew wasn’t feeling well so she went upstairs. Our neighbor was outside and Dena and I stayed downstairs to chat with him.
We left our gate open after we drove our truck in. He was having a cigarette – his wife was pregnant at the time so he was smoking outside on this cold evening. They were a very nice couple – both born and raised in Cuenca. Drew had gone up stairs to get ready for bed. And left the door to our apartment open.

We were at least 45 minutes on the sidewalk having a conversation. During that time we saw some of our neighbors arriving home and some other people walking around the neighborhood.

And then we saw two young men turn the corner and walk straight towards us. As soon as we saw them we knew we were in trouble. We were about 40 feet away. It took just a few seconds for them to reach us. As they were 20 feet away they pulled out their weapons. The one on the left had a black pistol and the other one a well worn and sharpened kitchen knife.

They were asking for phones and wallets. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation played out. Our minds kind of froze up. Dena doesn’t remember anything they said.

With their weapons in hand they began to pick over us like a couple of vultures on a carcass. They patted me down. Reached in my pockets. Took my wedding ring off my finger. Moved Dena’s scarf and unhooked her necklace. They took the rings off her fingers as well. They took our keys.

Our neighbor protested. He told them that they could have his stuff but he needed his license and cedula. The man with the gun put it to my neighbors head and said that he would take whatever he wanted.

The gun thief picked me and our neighbor clean. While he searched me, he put the barrel of the gun into my stomach. The knife thief cleaned anything of value that he could get off of Dena.  All the while we stood there with our hands involuntarily above our heads. The jerk with the gun didn’t get my phone as he was going through my pockets, so I pulled my jacket back and showed him where it was. My phone was worth more than everything else they took combined. After he was done with us the one with the gun went to check on how his buddy with the knife was doing with Dena, they were both stand there in front of her with a knife and gun pointed at her.

When they were finished, they took off down the street. When they got to the opposite corner of the block one of them whistled and threw our keys down on the sidewalk and took off running. We waited another minute and walked down to get them.

In less than five minutes it was over.

Well for us anyway. As we quickly locked up our gate I asked our neighbor not to do anything until the morning. A few minutes later a pickup truck pulled up to the house and he went with a group of friends to hunt for these two guys.

And then a police truck with the lights flashing drove around for a while. I guess we all respond differently. For me, I was happy for it to be over. He wanted resolution. He wanted these guys to pay. Vigilante justice is common here.

If they had kept our keys we would have had to sleep somewhere else because they could have entered our place whenever they wanted. It seems that they took the keys so we couldn’t follow them in our cars.


How We Responded to the Loss (& Why We Stayed)

We didn’t care about the stuff we lost. At least not the monetary value of it. A few things had sentimental value. Dena lost a ring that we had bought in Aruba (our first international trip together). My wedding ring was just a decoy. A cheap $12 silver band.

The actual wedding band that Dena gave me on our wedding day was safely stored. Dena’s jewelry was all silver and worth less than $100 total. Our friends feel that the thieves though it was all white gold. Otherwise they wouldn’t have wasted the time taking it.

My phone had personal data – photos of important documents, of my family and other personal information. And they knew where we lived.

What we really lost that day was our feeling of security. It made us feel like we couldn’t stay in Ecuador. We felt like they would come find us to get more stuff and money. That night we seriously considered leaving Ecuador.

While we decided to stay in Ecuador, we did decide that we couldn’t stay in that house or that area. We had to move.

Within the week we moved to El Palermo – the largest apartment complex in the city. It has guards and cameras and an automatic gate opener so we could return home day or night without fear of this happening again. We felt that the only way we could stay in Ecuador was to get over the overwhelming feeling of fear and insecurity. And it worked. After a year there we had gotten over that fear and we left El Palermo.

In retrospect we were very naïve. It was dark and we lived on a fairly isolated side street. We had gotten comfortable with the area and the city in general. We knew that this type of thing happened but it didn’t seem like it would ever happen to us.

Why we stayed. We knew that these feelings would pass. We also knew that getting robbed once didn’t mean that it would happen again. In fact, we didn’t know any other expats that this had happened to – not in Cuenca anyway. We knew of expats who had their homes broken into but this also happened in our hometown of Nova Scotia (Canada). In both cases, our friends were out and they came home to less stuff.

As expats we do stand out more. It’s easy to imagine that this makes us more of a target. While I’m sure that is true in some settings, I don’t think this was the case this time. The thieves were in an almost exclusively Ecuadorian neighborhood – robbing people for weeks.

There is a need not to make things different than they really are. We refused to let this experience change our view of the country and its people. Ecuadorians are very welcoming to expats and obviously this didn’t change because of two random strangers from who-knows-where.

We are happy that we stayed.

How Getting Robbed Affected Me

I thought about getting robbed before. We both knew to just give them whatever they wanted. But the lingering emotion was something I didn’t expect.

Seeing a man hold a huge knife up to my wife’s delicate face and neck is an image I will never get out of my mind.

She was so brave and responded so well. I am so proud of her – and upset with myself for having allowed her to be in that situation. As a husband and father it is my job to protect my family. And I failed to keep them safe.

  • Fear: This was definitely my first response. After the thieves left we went inside, locked all the doors (and heaped furniture in front of them) and sat on the bed and cried for hours as we held each other.
  • Stupid: I couldn’t believe that I had put my family at risk like that. I still think about what could have happened that night. We had a huge metal gate, with 4 rows of electric wire on top and we decided to leave it all open. I still feel stupid about that.
  • Anger: I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel angry at them. And at the whole situation. This emotion has passed.
  • Frustration: There are so many what-if’s in a scenario like this. What if we had stayed at our friends place a little longer? What if we didn’t visit with our neighbor downstairs? What if they entered our house? What if one of us reacted violently towards them? Although I rationally know that nothing can be done – thinking about the possibilities make me frustrated.
  • Insecure: This is an obvious emotion. It affected us more than I expected. Although we talked about it a lot the first few months, it has hardly come up in conversation during the past year. I certainly feel differently when I am on an empty street. And when I’m on foot at night.

At first Dena was afraid to leave the apartment without me. It was hard for her to even walk across the street to the cafe. She looked suspiciously at anyone who resembled the robbers. A couple of months after the robbery we were walking downtown and a man (resembling one of the thieves) on a bicycle slowed down close by her, tipped his bike toward her putting his foot on the sidewalk, she was startled and thought he was going to rob her. While she knew it was not rational to react that way, it was not something she could control. It was a difficult time.

We never reported the crime. We didn’t even speak with the police. The thieves knew who we were and where we lived. We were the only light-skinned foreigners in that sector of the city. It wouldn’t have been hard to find us again. They had pictures of our daughter!  The police told our neighbor (who didn’t have the nerve to sign /file a report either) that these same two guys had been robbing people in that area of the city every night for the past six weeks. They had arrested them a number of times, found stolen goods on them – but ‘couldn’t do anything without a signed complaint.

It’s nice to think big picture and take a principled stand, and say that we should have reported the crime to prevent it from happening to someone else. But the fact is that it happened to us – and we were scared of something worse happening to our family.

What About Crime in Cuenca? Is It Safe?

There are expat and travel bloggers that proudly state how safe it is in Cuenca. They walk down the street any time day or night without problems. Good for them.

Sure, Cuenca is safe. But what are you comparing it to? I’m sure that there are worse places. I also know that there are safer places.

I know that since we were robbed we are more careful not to sugarcoat things for incoming expats and travelers.

Stuff happens. Saying that it doesn’t just makes you look stupid and puts naïve people at risk. People need to know the real situation – not some expat-marketed, spin-doctored slant that twists and deceives. No place is perfect.

We have heard that what happened to us is very uncommon in Cuenca. Usually it’s pick-pocketing or a break in when no one is home. Being assaulted like that is rare, especially with a gun. We still enjoy the city, but we are more careful, and we try to make others more aware of what it’s like to live in Cuenca.

Getting robbed has made us more savvy travelers and better bloggers. And writing about this has a solid therapeutic value for me.

We are very happy that we stayed in Ecuador. It took time to get over the trauma and to stop looking suspiciously at anyone that resembled the robbers. We knew those feelings would pass and we are so glad we allowed time for that.

An Ironic Twist

The morning that we were robbed we published a post entitled: Where are the dangerous areas in Cuenca? The post starts off stating: “Well, I guess I should start off and explain that we haven’t had many problems here in Cuenca. But it would be naive to think that crime isn’t a problem here.” 

That same night we were robbed at gunpoint in front of our home.

Now it’s your turn…

Have you been robbed on your travels? Or as an expat? How did you handle it?

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  1. I want to add that my intent was to talk to the would be thief and find out his situation in his life and help him. But he was probably suffering from a mental disorder anyway so it was best it ended up the way it did with him leaving so quickly. My girl asked if I gave him any money as she didn’t see because she was still down the slope near the river sitting. I told her I threw him some monedas I had in my pocket. She laughed!!

  2. I lived in Ecuador for 8 months total year 2014. I was living in old El Centro on the corner of Arrizaga and Borrero. I loved it there. I became used to walking around freely day and night and I was never bothered by anyone. I can remember walking back from the terminal at night around 7pm and seeing a group of men out in the street. I thought to myself that I would take a different longer route to get to my apartment to avoid any possible problems. It was just a hunch to do so. I don’t know what would have happened if I stayed the course and walk directly toward them to pass. The only time that I ever was approached was when my girlfriend and I were sitting along the river bank in a smaller town, I think Biblian, anyway I heard some Spanish words that I didn’t understand and my girlfriend gasped and told me the robber wanted our money and threatened us. I turned around and stood up and approached him and he saw my stature and started backing up and I assume cussing at me. Never was I fearful but I intended to depart with some money and tossed him some coin I had in my pocket. He went and picked it up like he had just hit a jackpot. I could see he was unarmed and I was walking toward him but he kept backing up and cussing at me. He left and soon he was out of sight. I went back to sit down with my girlfriend. That was the only time that I experienced any kind of trouble while in Ecuador. And really I don’t even give much weight to that event because I never felt threatened nor was I fearful. I actually wanted to help him. My heart goes out to needy people. He appeared to be homeless with tattered clothes. I’ve been told by many that I have a big heart. But I don’t know. I can’t compare myself any differently because I’ve always just been that way, me. But anyway I am planning to return to Cuenca. I love it there!!!

  3. Wow, I can imagine how much this experience would shake a family! And as a father… ugh… worst case scenario entirely.

    Interestingly enough, I’m from Philadelphia and have been held up at gun point twice as well as knife point once in that area. Hoping that we have learned from those episodes. Before being a father I responded by grabbing the guns out of their hands. Nowadays, as a father, I think I would do the same as you.

    We initially were thinking we didn’t want to be in a gated community here in Ecuador, with security and all the amenities. We have quickly adjusted our outlook and are very much enjoying the gated spots now.

    Being Philadelphian – I must admit that I carry a large knife everywhere.

    For those pointing out the ‘dangers of Ecuador’ please note that its most dangerous city of Guayaquil doesn’t even compare to US cities like Philadelphia, LA, St. Louis… pretty much every big city in the US is far more dangerous, and statistics don’t lie.


  4. Last night I was watching international house hunting and you guys were featured on it. I thought I would Google “Crime in Cuenca” to see what it was like. Ironically, I ended up on your blog. 5 years ago I lived in Quito and taught at a school in Cumbaya. I left after 8 months. I have been living in Istanbul for 5 years and feel much safer here, (regardless of it’s geographical location and what you see on the news). There are many thieves in Latin America. Even my cleaner was stealing from me in Quito. I hope you guys are doing well.

  5. I’m glad you three survived your encounter, but I must admit I am baffled by your response. Have you since armed yourself? Take Krav Maga, it is great for your health and is designed for just such scenarios- it came about as a means for Jews to defend against Nazi brutality. Nothing could prevent Hitler’s plan, on the scale he implemented it, but many Nazi’s were disuaded from their attacks, early in the war, by the blossoming art of Krav Maga.
    I don’t know the laws there about weapons, but could you arm yourself with a knife or firearm?
    I flew F-15’s primarily, in the Air Force, but I spent 9 years as a police officer and 5 of those as a SWAT officer with a DEA narcotics task force.. Crime can- and does- happen everywhere. I have seen many people, who did everything the criminal asked…and were killed anyway. A corpse is a corpse, and that is permanent. You need to prepare for it, not just plan to avoid it. Do both. Trust me, you will feel better about yourself and your ability to protect your family. Hopefully you will never need to use the skills you learn…but better to have and not need than need and not have…right?
    It is a well proven fact that confidence and body language will very often stop a crime before it begins- they want an easy target, not a difficult one. Simply holding your stance correctly and meeting their eyes might have prevented the crime.
    You did not call the police because they know where you live…? You should have called them- or gone after them yourself- precisely because they had that information. They are a constant threat, to you and others. You left them there to prey on the next person.
    I am glad you are ok, but I do hope you take more from this experience than “run and hide”. Think of the next victim- which might easily have been you, again. Next time they may well have had rape on their minds. What would you do then, Bryan?
    All the best, Bryan. Please consider my words. I lived in Costa Rica for years, and worked as a pilot. I flew all over south and central America, and it is most definitely a Latin trait to prey on the weak- in business and crime. Do not be that victim.

    1. A “Latin trait to prey on the weak”? Are you kidding me? Are you suggesting that criminals around the world don’t have a tendency to prey on the weak and the ones that they know that they could easily take advantage of? You’re acting like a moron.

    2. @James, This is one of the most idiotic responses I have ever read. Not just due to VICTIM BLAMING but implying a martial art would have slowed down the Nazi’s genocidal plans.

  6. Aloha,
    This is a GREAT blog! I’m so glad you shared you’re incident. There are a lot of people marketing retirement areas all over the world saying they are safe, and that’s their perspective. My perspective comes from growing up in an area in San Diego with many gangs, living in Los Angeles for over 3 years (in one of the worst areas) and getting mugged, having my car stolen, and living on several places in Orange County (good and bad areas). But my father was a police officer, and now my brother is a SWAT, so I was raised to be aware and take care and avoid situations. And even though I’ve had guns pointed at me on the freeways in Los Angeles and Orange County, been mugged, and followed, had my car stolen (and amazingly enough it was recovered before they were able to strip much off of it), and lived in many areas with gangs, I’ve been very fortunate to enjoy each area and not be a victim. I’ve traveled many places in the world and you just have to have a careful mindset, keep valuables close or hidden, and give no one a reason to even think you would be a good target.
    And it’s important to remember that no matter where in the world you go, or the US, there is crime, unfortunately. Overall, it’s better to be aware that there is crime (of all kinds) and be educated and prepared and know what to do, then to be ignorant and unknowing, and become a victim or be surprised by it.
    Thank you again for sharing.
    Much mahalo

  7. Well, I’ve lived in Los Angeles for more than 20 years and honestly…after having my house broken into three times and police doing nothing….. I think the US is more of a third world country than South America!

  8. So glad you and your family were not hurt – what a terrifying experience you went through. I guess no where is totally safe, I grew up in Chicago, Uptown and East Village, lived most of my life there. Left in 1999, never had a problem and Chicago has always had such a terrible reputation. One thing I learned there is to walk with purpose and never look lost or confused. I now live in the mountains of Colorado – no problems here. My only experience with robbery would be being pick pocketed in Rome! Riding a crowded bus – I was stupid. I travel internationally about 3 or 4 times a year and have never had a problem of any kind, anywhere (except Rome). I’ve been lucky, right places, right times.
    My husband and I are thinking of relocating to Cuenca. I’ve read a lot of blogs and it sounds lovely. Decided that condo life would suit us best – no yard work and the type of maintenance that a home would require. Also, thought it would be safer.
    Have already decided that if we settle overseas, we won’t bring anything valuable except computers and iPhones. Nothing fancy, no fancy jewelry, no expensive purses and the like – don’t need that stuff and don’t want to call attention to it. Pack the dogs, cats and go.
    Don’t know what Lily’s issue is – strange response to your blog. Begs the question, just how easy is it to get meds? Someone might need hers.
    Thank you for your blog, I’ve subscribed to IL and they do tend to sugar coat stuff so I appreciate the dose of reality I have found here.
    Cheers, be safe, be happy.

  9. I’m glad no one got hurt. I lived near Tijuana, Rosarito Beach actually, for 7 years and worked in Tijuana for 10 years. I had some problems. Once got put up against a wall in a choke hold, probably off-duty or ex-cop, with four of his buddies holding large kitchen knives in front of me. I couldn’t have avoided this situation at the time unless I had parked somewhere else as I was walking to my truck. Anyway, they got my money, pager (yeah, quite a while back), but that’s it. I talked them out of my other stuff because it was nothing they could use. But this taught me a lesson. I learned then that if you ever feel you’re in danger….RUN! That was 1997. If you would’ve run to your house when you first saw them turn the corner an head at you they may have thought YOU were going for a gun and they may have gotten spooked. I was once leaving a friends place in Tijuana and took a wrong turn out the door in an apartment complex. Two guys started walking at me from about 50 feet taking up the balcony. The gut feeling said I was up the creek. The run instinct kicked in. I went over the balcony, walked across a roof, dropped to the street and continued to run until I got to my truck. By the time they came out of the building I could see them in my rear view mirror. I was 50 then, it was 2004. People in situations where they’re in a foreign country have to realize they are targets. They have to realize that when the “gut feeling” hit’s them it’s time to act…NOW! You’ll never feel embarrassed for saving your life or that of someone else. Ah, those were the days! Then again in Phoenix in 2008 I had four brothers turn a corner in their car from about 40 yards at the end of a shopping mall. They were looking at me as I sat parked eating a sandwich. I had no route forward. The way they looked set off that gut feeling. I started the car, they stopped behind me but not close enough to block me in. They were going to rob me, probably at gun point, but the second their car stopped mine went into gear and backed out. I drove by looking at them in their 6000 pound low rider red Cadillac. Looked like four dumb shits that couldn’t believe I knew what they were about to do. This stuff happens everywhere.

  10. I hate that you got robbed, but it’s silly you want to evacuate from the county because you got held up in a side street. Try living in Atlanta. It makes Ecuador seem like a fairy land. Get real.

    1. Who is your comment directed to? After we were robbed, we continued to live in Ecuador another 3 years before we had to leave.
      And even if someone decides to move after a robbery, your “try living in Atlanta” comment is silly. If you don’t like where you live, why do you stay? If you do like it, why do you make it sound so bad?

  11. I’m sorry that this crime happened to you and also to the others I’ve read about in these comments.
    I’ve been looking into moving to another country like Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, or Belize but each has their good and bad and I still haven’t pinpointed which one is for me if any. What I do know is I do not want to live in fear of being robbed to the point it’s on my mind 24/7 which sounds like the case in Ecuador. Sure, I can get robbed in the good old USA but it has never happened and I do not live in fear 24/7. I know I am in a safe area and the odds are in my favor not the opposite. Seems like moving to Ecuador involves just accepting that you will likely be robbed and more than once and not just in your house but on buses and in restaurants too. I just don’t get it but I’ve never been to Ecuador and there must be something that makes it worth moving there or so many expats wouldn’t be doing it. With that being said, for me personally no amount of benefits are worth living in fear 24/7. I don’t want to be driving down a road thinking that if I’m in a wreck that is not even my fault and someone dies that I’m going to spend time in prison and go through hell to get out. I just don’t get it but to each his own. I’m not criticizing anyone for living there, I’m just saying for me personally it doesn’t sound like the paradise International Living makes it out to be in their top 5 places for expats to live.

  12. Plot twist: They read the article before robbing you. 😮
    But seriously though, you were very brave for staying and I also loved the way you wrote this article. Not overreacting and scaring people unnecesarily, but giving an unbiased an insightful opinion.
    Big ecuadorian fan/wannabe blogger here. 😉

  13. Ay Ecuador! I lived in Ecuador for three years and was mugged twice and pickpocketed on the buses once. Mugged in Quito, mugged in Cumbaya, walking back from yoga class. I still have the scars on my ankle from the tussle in Quito, I fell over as I ran away.
    I got away lightly, my best friend was robbed by a gang at gun point in her house. Somehow I managed to avoid this although I lived without any security.
    I would still return to Ecuador in a heartbeat. Every time something awful happened the love and support I received from Ecuadorian friends was overwhelming.

  14. I was robbed by machete point during my first trip to Nicaragua as a solo backpacker in 2009. It was jolting and shaped my experience during the rest of that two-month trip (it happened during week 2) and also through my subsequent travels. What happened is as follows:
    I had arrived at a quiet beach in the northern part of the country – a little surfer’s beach on the Pacific, but very, very underdeveloped. I was staying at a hostel with a number of other gringo backpackers and went with one of them for a walk down the beach at about noon, as was suggested by everyone else at the hostel. Having escaped a Midwestern US winter, this was a great idea to me and the Canadian girl I was walking with. There were a number of people – locals and travelers – on the beach, as well as fishermen and bone-thin dogs. As soon as we walked beyond where the crowd was though, we were surprised by two teenage boys wearing bandanas on their faces and carrying 2-foot long machetes who emerged from the trees on the beach behind us – blocking us from the crowd – and demanded our belongings. As they approached, I remember thinking, “This is how it happens.” As in, this is how I die or am raped. Fortunately, neither of those things happened and as they got closer, I sensed they had no interest in injuring us physically. I calmly gave them my wallet – containing the equivalent of $5, repeatedly saying “no hay problema.” The rest of my dinero, debit card and passport was in a money belt, which by this time was soaked with perspiration. I probably shouldn’t have even had that on me, but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it in the very open bunk area of the hostel. They started laughing and walked away. We calmly turned around and started walking quickly back toward the crowd. But we should have ran. Once they realized how little unfruitful their little plunder had been, they started chasing us demanding we hand over my purse and her backpack. While they were ripping her backpack off of her body and shaking the machetes in her face, I moved my camera out of my purse into my unmentionables and threw my purse at them. All it contained was a small knife I’d purchased at a market in Leon and some chapstick. They wrestled the backpack off my walking partner but acquiesced to giving her back her credit cards. The girl didn’t speak a lick of Spanish, but was fluent in Portuguese and the thieves seemed to understand it. Without the word “socorro” yet in my vocabulary (I learned it later that afternoon), I started screaming “AYUDA!” because the thieves wanted to take her entire backpack which she told me contained her passport and camera. Once I started to scream, they backed off and we hauled our white asses down the beach. We arrived panting, causing the hammock-resting beer drinkers at the hostel to sense alarm. Apparently, thieves had been ripping people off at night on the beach for months – stealing iPods, cameras, beer – anything that someone had with them under the cover of night. This was apparently their first brave ascension to mid-day robbery. We emerged from the situation physically unscathed, but I could barely sleep, walk, eat, etc. for at least a few days and both the girl and I ended up moving on to another location after more stories of violence and robbery in the area (which was very remote) started to come out. I had only positive experiences in Nicaragua following this event – including a man jumping off a bus after to me to give me my camera that had fallen out of my purse. But it changed my feelings forever about deserted places and I was perhaps overly cautious and paranoid for the rest of my trip. It was hard to get past the feeling that I had somehow invited the attack by simply being. as well as the feeling that everyone wanted to rob me. I’ve since traveled abroad for several months in Mexico, without incident, and lived in Detroit (which has its fair share of deserted places) and have a feeling this experience has helped me be safer. While I go places “alone” – I never go anywhere that I am the only person. And certainly not the only woman. I keep a low profile and never take anything I don’t need or can’t afford to lose. And although this happened during the day, I have often felt in Latin America (and in Detroit for that matter) that the mood and security of a place can change drastically once the sun goes down. Unfortunately any feeling of security we have is simply an illusion. While I probably wished for weeks that I hadn’t been robbed on that beach, I also try to use the experience to my benefit and the benefit of others while I’m traveling. Because I will never stop traveling – it simply brings me too much joy to remove from my life on the off-chance something bad might happen. I appreciate the honesty of your post and enjoy your blog. Salud!

  15. Greetings Bryan, Just now discovered your blog. My wife and I travel all over the world as part of our business and just moved from Costa Rica back to the states for a year while we are situating our son in college. We have travelled extensively through Ecuador and are considering an extended stay in 2016. Like Ecuador, Costa Rica has a high incidence of property crime. Interestingly the prevailing attitude there is that property crime is not so much a moral issue, as an economic issue–you know, direct appropriation of wealth. It is always considered the victim’s fault if they are not careful enough. Robbery like you experienced is universally abhored, but a reality in any impoverished country. I am curious though and maybe you do not have an answer for why you reacted this way, but why did you show the robber where your cell phone was hidden? Was it some form of subtle condescension or taking power over the situation? It is fascinating how we react in these situations. When I was in my early 20’s travelling in Colombia with my wife, I found myself running after a thief who had snatched my wife’s necklace right after we had exited the bus in Cali. I went temporarily insane, stripped off my backpack and chased the guy down a hill screaming “COME BACK HERE YOU MO-FO (paraphrased).” The locals came streaming from their houses to watch the spectacle. It was obvious that I was going to catch the guy, so he stopped on a dime such that I almost ran into him and he began flailing at me like a wild animal. He knocked my glasses off and sliced my neck with his sharp fingernails. I remember clearly the spittle foaming at the side of his mouth as people began closing in on us and I was just fending off his crazy punches. I had reacted instinctively, ego swelled up, avenging my wife’s honor, but found myself in a ridiculous situation over a stupid gold chain. I guess I figured if I caught up with him he would just give me the chain back, but he was hungry and desperate and wasn’t going to give it up without a fight. I pushed him off of me and told him, “vaya ladron, es suyo.” He quickly sprinted off and some of the crowd followed after him down an ally. I picked my glasses up off of the ground, they were scratched and walked back up the street empty handed to my wife, who was not very happy with me, NOT because I hadn’t brought back her necklace, but because I had followed the the thief and put myself in danger. I was much younger then, but it was a lesson I carried with me and has served me well in future encounters. Things are insignificant. Cooperate, de-escalate a situation whenever you can and remain calm. You had the instinct and sense to handle your situation appropriately Bryan. Reporting or not reporting to the police is a personal choice, there is no shame in keeping it private, particularly if you determined that you were still at risk. I look forward to reading more of you blog!

  16. Bryan, thank you for sharing this painful, yet important information. Thank God you were not physically injured. If I may be of help, please call on me. I am a retired dignitary protection specialist living in Cuenca, who would like to offer free training from Behavior Pattern Recognition to improvised defense strategies. I can not think of more important dignitaries than a family. May God continue to protect and bless your family. Sincererly, Ricardo B

    1. Thanks for the offer.
      I understand the benefit in certain situations, but if we had physically resisted in this robbery I’m confident that I wouldn’t be responding to you right now.

      1. I agree with you. I am not suggesting that you should have acted in any other way than which you did. In my humble observation I believe your response was appropriate and disciplined. I have benefited from the information and experiences you have shared over the years and my only intent was to be neighborly and share my experience.

  17. I lived as an expat in England for three years. We were traveling to Cornwall on holiday and stopped at a roadside rest stop at mid-morning near Bristol for a drink and to use the toilets. Thieves smashed the window of my husband’s company car, grabbed his laptop which he had stupidly left in plain view, and got away without even engaging the car’s alarm, all during our five-minute visit inside. Police had closed-circuit camera footage of the crime but still never found the perpetrators.
    Criminal acts can happen in broad daylight in the most civilized countries on Earth. All you can do is take proper precautions in the future and use a bad experience to heighten your awareness of your own fragility.
    I’m glad no one in your family was physically hurt.

  18. According to today’s newspaper (July 14, 2014), a 44 year-old man was killed on my block in the downtown area this past weekend and found on the sidewalk. From what I can understand from the newspaper, there were at least two wounds, one from a firearm and one from a cutting weapon. People in the area heard a shot and then a car speed away. Apparently police are investigating the matter.

  19. I’m very sorry to hear that this happened to you! I do appreciate the irony in what you were blogging though.
    Good for you for staying and dealing with it! I don’t know what I would have done. The idea of getting mugged is a very scary one for me.

  20. What happened to you and your family is definately not cool. I hate those robberies. I know that it is their way to make livings but it ruins others’ lives. Not cool at all. I will pray for your & your family’s safety.

  21. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing. I am so sorry that this happened to you, but really appreciate your candid description, taking responsibility for what you might have done differently, and the reminder and warning. I tend to be overly cautious, but truly appreciate the reminder for us to be just a little more careful and aware of our surroundings, while not letting the fear of what MIGHT happen to keep us from enjoying the beautiful experiences in life. We live in critical times hard to deal with, and can expect things like this to happen. Keeping one’s calm, and just giving the robbers what they want is the safest course of action. Thank you again and may you be as safe as possible in this uncertain world.

    1. My name is Thomas,
      I am moving to Guayaquil in November so I can marry my fiancé or prometida, Jenny.
      I hope to apply for permanent residence.
      I hope all is well with you where ever you are.
      Much Love

  22. Hello Bryan, so sorry that you and Dena went through that ordeal. After reading your account, I opine that you handled it as you should have, and as a result you, your wife and daughter were not injured or worse. Material things can be replaced. We have to continue living our lives the best we can. Everyone needs to keep things in perspective: We live in San Francisco, and although this is a beautiful city, it also has its darkside. in 2013 there were approximately 48 homocides, and over 40,000 other reported crimes (robberies, assaults, etc.) My wife was assaulted on public transit, there have been shootings within a few blocks from where we live… and this is considered a relatively safe part of the city. However, San Francisco remains one of the most popular tourist destinations, and no one is so fearful that they are moving out of the city! Living in a “big city” we take our precausions and are always aware of our surroundings, especially when downtown. We are planning to retire next year, and hopefully move to Ecuador, most likey Cuenc; perhaps we’ll have the opportunity to meet you and the family. In my opinion, form what I’ve been reading about Cuenca, San Francisco is a more dangerous city to live, and I’ve lived here all my life… and still enjoy it here. Take care!

  23. Reading your article about your robbery just helped me; thank you! Three nights ago on June 12, 2014, my 33 y.o. Ecuadorian English student left my house at 8:35 p.m. to walk one block to Mall Del Rio, where her aunt was waiting in the truck to take her home. Within half a block of my house, a man grabbed her by her beautiful long hair, ripped off her clothes, beat her viciously taking her cell phone and $10 she had on her person. Whether he raped her or not is still inconclusive as that is a stigma she didn’t want to share with her family. I had gone upstairs in my protected(or so I thought) house to prepare for bed and was just climbing into bed when my doorbell at my electric gate started ringing incessantly. Since it was a little after 9:00, and I am a 73 y.o. gringa, everybody knows not to come to my house at that time. I looked out my bedroom window and saw my student standing at the gate with no clothes on screaming and crying hysterically. I rushed downstairs with a robe, opened the gate, wrapped it around her, brought her in and held her with one arm while I called the police with the other. She begged me not to call, but her face was bloody, her knees, her arm, her back, etc. There is no way to make this short other than to say the police came, the ambulance took her away, her family came and several of my neighbors whom I hadn’t met yet came to help!! They went down the street where it happened taking my stun gun and a heavy long flashlight and found her clothes and her back pack along with large clumps of her hair the man(Ecuadorian – tall and thin) had pulled out by the roots. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night.
    Since I was so traumatized and emotionally drained by what had happened to my beautiful, sweet student, I went to bed at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, June 13, 2014, after taking two melatonin to relax me and turning on my noise machine to ocean waves to sleep. I awoke the next morning to find robbers had hammered off the lock on my electric gate, come in and taken my New Balance shoes off my front porch and all four of my cylinders of gas. They had gone into the lavanderia, which is attached to my house, with a roof, but no outside door. There, they had pried open the breaker box and apparently were going to turn off the electricity, when something must have scared them away. I have an alarm with a back-up battery, and I have an electric fence above my regular iron fence that also has a back-up. I live on a street where the least expensive house sold a year or so ago for $100,000, so I don’t live in a bad neighborhood.
    The bottom line is one of my neighbors organized a meeting and 25 of us met on Saturday night, June 14, 2014 at 8:00 to discuss ways of making our neighborhood safer. One neighbor got everyone’s name and telephone number, copied and shared with all of us. Since I am the oldest person on the street and the only gringa, everybody went out of their way to do what they could to make me feel safe and more relaxed. They brought me herbal tea during the day, and others checked on me 4 – 5 times during the day, and the alarm monitoring company parked outside my house most all of the night sounding a short alarm every now and then to let me know he was there. I believe everything happens for a reason. I have only lived in this neighborhood for 2 1/2 months, and it would have taken a long time to get to know everyone – maybe never! But now, I know their names, I know their experiences with robberies; they know my age and that I live alone. I have been to the house of my student’s aunt and visited, and my student, who will continue to come for English after she gets off work at Feria Libre, will now spend the night with me on Thursdays and I will take her to work on Friday morning, as I have a car and drive here. I will not allow her to even walk a block after dark – at least not after leaving my house. It will make us closer, as well. What happened to me with the robbery was nothing compared to the trauma she had to go through, but it all happened in TWO days time.
    A few of my Ecuadorian friends have suggested I would be safer in an apartment, but I have a dog and moved here so the dog would have her own yard to play in. I have been and still am searching my mind and my soul for the “right” thing to do. However, I am a tough old lady, have traveled a lot and am very savy about living in another country as I lived in Mexico City for 3 years and in Madrid, Spain for one year. No matter what anyone says, I know this would not have happened in the Sun City community I lived in in Tucson, Arizona as we had patrols in the neighborhood 24/7, and everyone was over 50! I also know how bored I was living there without all the new experiences and learning of different cultures that I have here. I was not content to sit around and share stories of my surgeries or illnesses with other old people(putting it nicely). I, too, will stay in Ecuador – at least until I find another country I want to explore!

    1. Good for you Nancee.
      Everyone has had a bad experience or 2. Mine have been in USA and fortunately none in Ecuador so far.
      I guess the extent of the damage psychological or physical each person has to assess to see what changes
      one makes. So far we are very happy in Ecuador.
      Bryan has provided a good outlet for himself and his fans I think to work out moving issues like crime, and
      it helps to deal with this and move on with living.
      Best regards.

  24. Bryan,
    Thanks so much for the story. I’ve been reading your excellent blog for several years now along with various references to the robbery. I’m also glad that you’ve taken time to collect yourself and write about the experience. I echo the many sentiments (except for the unnamed “flower lady”) that you and your family were safe at the time and have recovered since.
    It’s great that people express the bad as well as the good: your diary here has made me think about what we should do, do different that is. We’re buying in Cuenca. Like you, it’s not going to change our decision but we might be a bit more careful in Cuenca, especially after dark. Taxis are only a couple buck and can take us to our front door. Walking the streets at night? We’ll be a bit more careful.
    We’ve traveled to 50 countries and been robbed only once – lost a bag in Costa Rica and had a couple attempted pickpockets, the last in Rome last September. Basic rule is not to take anything that you can’t afford to lose.
    We take normal traveler’s precautions: no passports nor all the credit cards nor anything too valuable. I am more concerned now about my camera and don’t see much to do about it if I want to keep taking pics. Other that that, like one of the great responses you got above “courage is not the absence of fear, it’s being afraid, but still putting one foot in front of the other and going on.” We plan to keep putting one foot in front of the other, in Ecuador, in Cuenca.
    Our best to you, Dena and your daughter. May you always be safe, doing what you love.

  25. Hi, Brian, sorry to hear about your experience. How much did they frisk you? When I travel, I wear pants with a hidden deep pocket for the good stuff, and keep a money clip in the shallow pocket with “tip money” and expired debit cards. I have never had to surrender them, but hoped this would be enough to satisfy them. What do you think?

  26. Sorry to hear about your experience and I can easily imagine why is was so difficult to write about it sooner. I am a retired police officer who worked in a large U.S. city for more than 20 years. One of the things I learned early in my career is that people live under an “illusion” of safety. You aren’t really safe anywhere. It is only by good fortune or the grace of God that people escape being victimized no matter where they might live. What happened to you is your illusion of safety was compromised and likely it will never be as strong as it was before the robbery. As others have observed, the bright side is besides that you lost only property and neither you or a family member suffered physical injury. I don’t fault you for not reporting the robbery to the authorities. That was a personal decision only you could make. I suspect since your neighbor ultimately did not report it either, as a local, he likely knew there was good reason not to. Perhaps the authorities there couldn’t be trusted to adequately address the incident or there was a real fear of retaliation. As an ex-pat living in a foreign country I can certainly understand why you might even be less willing to go that route. Even though it was very frustrating to me during my career to see people victimized and then be unable to get justice for them when they wouldn’t sign a complaint or provide an official report, I always respected that was their decision to make even though to me that only allowed the perpetrator to victimize them yet again. So I have no criticism. Take care.
    Best regards,

  27. This passed Christmas my husband and I went to a very nice well known restaurant in El Centro across from Parque Calderon. I have a police background and know the “safe rules” however because I was complacent and relaxing I disregarded them. I did not sit with my back to the wall and I did not pay attention to my surroundings. We were to dine at the restaurant and then attend a concert. Well, we dined but never got to the concert because I looked down and discovered that my purse was gone. I recall to nicely dressed young men sitting behind me and that’s about it. I was angry at me for being careless. I knew better than to put my purse on the floor. The restaurant owner called the police and I did sign a complaint. I was very pleased with the Cuenca Police. My keys, bankcards and my address were in my purse. The police took us home and would not let us enter our house until they did a search. They drove by our house several times at night for 2-3 weeks. I never felt safer. We of course changed our locks immediately and felt that the police more than did their job. The inconvenience of stopping payment and canceling our cards was a learning experience. I was dissappointed in our Cuenca Bank. The thieves cleaned out my SRI acct. ($247) and never followed through on the ATM film they had when the thieves emptied my account. All in all I was lucky because had this happened in Atlanta they would not have stopped with stealing my purse. I now have gone back to sitting where I can observe who is coming in and who is going out.
    I no longer carry a purse I wear a money belt. We love Cuenca and certainly would not let this event stand in our way of remaining here. At the Police Academy Orientation I used to tell the students “don’t do dumb”. Needless to say I have gone back to practicing what I preached.

  28. Hi Brian, I am sorry to hear about the robbery and the treatment of your wife and I am happy your daughter did not have to witness it. I was robbed in a different way but it was just as traumatic for me.
    Something that is very difficult and expensive for gringos is the process of obtaining their Residency. After having my Residency nearly two years (and nearly completing my two year requirement for time out of Ecuador), I was informed by the Immigration Department that my Residency was invalid and that I was in the country illegally. This was because of an error in legal advice by the legal team of Grace and Nelson Velastegui.
    The really frustrating part of this was when I encountered Grace and Nelson and he admitted his errors, he refused to do anything to correct the situation. As a result I lost around $2000 and a lot of time effort in obtaining my Residency. In addition to this, I had to re-apply and pay again to go through the entire process. I do not yet know what future problems Grace and Nelson’s legal advise will have caused me.
    In this case, I knew those who caused me great financial loss and frustration. Do you or any of your readers know of any way to cause lawyers to assume responsibility for their paid-for advice and to protect others from this kind of deception? Thank you, Robert Oliva

    1. Are you serious?! Are you really comparing a legal error to a violent assault?
      I have dealt with Nelson and Grace for many years as a client and this is not how they do business. I think there is some information missing from your account. If you are unhappy with them, you need to make an appointment and sort it out. Public defamation only makes you look bad. Their reputation is exceptional and if there is a problem I know that they will want to know about it.

    2. In consideration of the readers, we want to clarify that Mr. Oliva is not, and never has been our client, we have not fulfilled any legal processes for him. Mr. Oliva only came with a consultation on the days allowed to leave the country. We clearly explained and gave him a copy of the article of the Ecuadorian law that regulates this restriction. Later when he told us that he had exceeded the allowable days to leave the country, although this was not our responsibility, we immediately offered to assist him with an extension; however Mr. Oliva never came to our office for this. Now Mr. Robert Oliva writes publicly which discredit us, which constitutes a punishable offense in Ecuador.
      Grace Velastegui
      Attorney at Law

      1. We have dealt with Grace and Nelson not only with our immigration needs but also with other legal needs. They have always provided us with the very high quality service. They have earned our trust.
        Regarding your robbery Bryan and Dena, I commend you for keeping calm and for deciding to stay in Ecuador. We witnessed a few things in Ecuador that challenged us. In the end, those weren’t the things that motivated us to move back to Canada, but they still play on our minds at times.

  29. My friend and I were robbed /accosted twice in one night while walking around St. Croix. First was my friends purse being snatched which I was holding on to because she’d had a bit too much to drink. In my opinion she wasn’t capable of defending herself if we were approached, so I strung her purse across my chest and I held on to it tightly. It didn’t matter. The young dude wanted that purse and broke the leather strap as he yanked and yanked. Huge red bleeding welt on my neck. We marched right to the police station to report it. When we left the police station and rounded the corner, we were accosted again. While I put up a fight and screamed at my attacker who pulled me down to the ground while others stood around in a circle and watched, I fought hard, kicking him in the chest and screaming. I called them all a bunch of animals, etc… They all just shrugged their shoulders and walked away. We went back to police station in a hysterical and emotional state. The cops could have cared less and blamed us for walking around a well lit and populated square, only 20 feet from their front door. I filed a second report. I knew the perpetrators would never be caught but it was more important that the crime be added to their “statistics” of street crime against visitors.
    So, I’m sorry this happened to you, how frightened you were and that weapons were involved (mine didn’t have weapons). I don’t know what I would have done because of that, but I believe you should have reported it immediately no matter what so it could be added to the “statistics” of street crime. That’s my opinion anyway.

  30. Thanks Bryan. I’ve lived here and in Cotacachi now for close to 2 years. I’ve been fortunate. I live in an all Ecuatorian area, that is considered pretty safe, however, I’m usually home before 8 PM, and I don’t typically carry anything of value on me when I go for hikes/walks, shopping, etc. I live in a Condo complex with all Ecuatorians and they and I seem to watch out for each other, and it’s gated with the typical electric wiring. But, your right, you cannot take anything for granted, nor let your guard down. Cuenca and most cities in Ecuador are much safer than you’ll find in the States, without a doubt. Glad that you and your family are now doing well and have been able to deal with this trauma effectively.

  31. You are right to be truthful because things like that happen everywhere. I was robbed at gun point at my business in New York, mugged by some kids in San Francisco and jumped and robbed in Jackson, Miss. I have been fortunate to not have been robbed in my travels around the world, but it seems everywhere I go the locals remind me of what to look out for. It helps to pay attenttion. I am moving to Cuenca this summer to retire. I appreciate you sharing your story because I think so many don’t. There are some bad people out there, but there are many terrific people.

  32. Thank you so much for your honesty. I think it’s important for people to know both the good and the bad so they can make the best decision for themselves. There is an Ecuador blog that I unsubsribed to because they did sugarcoat things to the extreme and I thought it put people in danger. They had not stepped foot in Ecuador for years, but were still deceiving people and milking whatever they could. I had been traveling and staying in Ecuador for one month every year for about twenty – five years. In the beginning parts of Ecuador were like the old west at that time. Lawlessness was overlooked with bribes to the authorities many times. I was a single woman traveling alone. I brought my son when he was under two years old and a few other times. I also brought my daughter when she was nineteen. I know already that there will be many readers that will blast me for bringing my children with me and into what they perceive as a dangerous environment, but with all the gun violence in schools these days, we don’t keep our kids out of school. I am a seasoned traveler and know what behaviors to adopt when there for safety, but still, we went through two kidnap attempts ( there was a time kidnapping was prevalent) a couple of robberies and one murder in the hostel we were staying at. In these years I’ve watched Ecuador change in so many ways. The first time I went, the agent at first refused to sell me a ticket and warned me not to go. There was a huge outbreak of typhoid and cholera too. Now it is a number one retirement destination!
    I kept going back because the Ecuadorian people are so beautiful in spirit. For any kindness you give them, they give you heartfelt blessings. I give what I have extra, many of them have nothing to give, but somehow still give. They truly cannot understand why we get upset at some of the things we do. Tranquilo is their answer to many things. I’ve seen courage in Ecuadorians that amazed and touched me. They will stand together at great risk to protest something they believe in. I’ve seen them put themselves in great danger to help a stranger. The innocent smile of an Ecuadorian is priceless. I’ve learned that their humility is born of great courage, not weakness.
    Ecuador has become so much safer through the years. Life is full of risks and each person has the right to choose which ones they want to take. I made my choices. My daughter that the kidnappers tried to take at gunpoint on the Tungarauhau trail above Banos died of cancer here in Canada less than five years later. Our time together in Ecuador gave us so many exciting, happy and loving memories. We all have to remember to live, to REALLY live before we die. One thing I learned in Ecuador is that courage is not the absence of fear, it’s being afraid, but still putting one foot in front of the other and going on. I encourage everybody to do that. Don’t let fear own you. You’ll miss too much. at the end of life you want to say, ” Wow, that was one hell of a ride!” Ecuador is amazing!

  33. I agree that it is no reason to panic, this is not organized crime nor hate crime, they won’t come after you, they don’t care to physically hurt you or your family. They just want your things. The only thing that gets on my nerves is the frequency. While it can happen everywhere it will happen in Ecuador more frequently. However, mostly small, non-violent thefts. They’d rob anyone regardless of where they are from or ethnicity. Report them!
    I have successfully avoided being robbed on the street so far. I am still fairly young and athletic enough to get away on my own (thankfully, I was alone, so nobody to worry about). However, that does not mean that I have not been robbed while I was not looking. Here is a timeline of things that have happened to my family and friends in Guayaquil and in Manabi only between December 2013 and now:
    1. A few weeks ago my brother in law and his son took a municipal bus at the main bus terminal where a guy tried to rob them at gunpoint once inside the bus. Long story short, they defended themselves and knocked the gun out of his hand, then beat him up until he surrendered, after which they told the bus driver to stop by the next police station where they dropped the robber off.
    2. Two months ago when we were finishing the construction of our house with the balcony door on the second floor still having to be installed. Thieves at night came through that space, but they did not take much. The next day they returned the documents (cedulas, driver’s license etc) by throwing them onto the balcony. They just kept the money they found on the table. Decent thieves, how nice.
    This prompted us to identify all vulnerable points around the house and install obstacles, so that nobody could climb there. What we did not fathom was that somebody would climb to the roof and come in through there (3 or 4 floor climb). Turns out that after all other paths were blocked we were robbed again with them coming through the roof. This time they took the flatscreens, but left the game consoles in place. I think they did not know what it was. Both times we were in the house sleeping and nobody woke up.
    We are now secured with a wire under electrical tension which we installed after the second experience. Next time they try to climb they will fall and die. We put a warning sign up.
    During construction we also had cases of workers stealing equipment and not coming back.
    3. A friend of mine had his iPhone taken from him in front of his home twice. His mistake was that his Facebook posts would always say “posted from my iPhone” and then give the location. He had theft insurance on the iPhone, so every time the insurance would buy him a new iPhone.
    4. A foreign friend I did some work with in Manabi had her phone and camera stolen from one of those lockers at department stores where you lock up your bags before you proceed to the store. They had a security camera, but nobody cared to review it until a local friend became violent with the store manager a few days later. Once they reviewed the camera it was clear that the store’s security guard himself was the thief. He was fired.
    If I went 10 years back the list would be endless. These are just the events of the last few months. Yes, I still love Ecuador.

  34. Thank you for sharing Bryan. I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to do so. I must say that our family has truly appreciated all that you have shared about Cuenca. We are moving there in 8 weeks and your blog has shaped our plans and prepared us for a realistic view of our life to come. This posting will now shape our decisions on the type and location of housing to select and the manner in which we conduct ourselves. For this I again thank you.
    For those who made surprisingly judgemental comments, I apologize. It is easy for some to watch a buddy cop show on TV and see the valiance in self sacrifice of some actions and yet if they faced the possible consequences directly they would likely be full of regret.
    I am bringing my wife, daughter and mother with me to Cuenca. What you have experienced is truly my only fear of moving there. Not of being mugged or even harmed myself but to stand by as I see my family exposed to it. We live in difficult times hard to deal with. I am glad you have been able to make some level of peace with what happened. Thank you again for having the courage to share the details. That alone has benefited my family and I for one am very grateful.

  35. Stuff can happen anywhere. Here in The Villages, Florida’s largest retirement community, while dining at a very nice sidewalk cafe located among many others, several couples were robbed at gunpoint by a guy who was walking down the street. I don’t think that incident will keep many people from moving here as your statement won’t keep my wife and I from moving to Cuenca. We arrive in two weeks.

  36. Hey Bryan;
    Thank you for sharing this story! I consider this to be a very happy story. As you noted, this could have happened to anyone, anywhere.
    Life happened and you and yours are fine.
    Did it cause you concern? Yes. Did you do what you had to do to reclaim your sense of personal security? Did you take what you felt was appropriate action to prevent future robberies? Yes. Are you and your family safer and better prepared as a result? Absolutely!
    The bottom line is you survived what could have been a very harmful event. Nobody got hurt. There may be some post traumatic stress as a result. They’re “may” be. There doesn’t have to be. Even if there was, you guys are responsible enough and clear thinking enough to del with it.
    But the bottom line is:
    You are safe and unharmed. Life happens. You dealt with it and moved on. This does not define you.
    There is always a silver lining. Sometimes it is hard to see at first through the tears or the fear, but it is always there.
    Thanks again Bryan & Dena!
    Perth, Ontario.

  37. Lily should get a life, take a a chill pill! Thanks for sharing your experience. Having visited Cuenca and considering moving there(my wife is Peruvian), this story does not sound any different from what could happen in any city in the US. You have to be careful anytime, anywhere, and bad things always happen to good people. I found Cuenca to be a beautiful, quaint, but busy city. With a city that size you will always have bad guys. While I was on a medical mission in a small town in Peru, one of our group was robbed by a knife-weilding man. But we were warned not to walk through this area, and never to walk anywhere alone-he ignored both warnings.
    Do you own a gun? Is it allowed to defend yourself? I will look you up if OK when I travel to Ecuador next year. And praise God your experience was not worse.

    1. Tim… You need a permit to own a gun in Ecuador. Even if you do you will be in trouble if you use it to hurt someone no matter the circumstances. If you kill someone with a gun you will be tried for manslaughter, regardless of the circumstances. Forget the American “stand your ground”, it will only get you into more trouble. Either you are physically strong enough to take them out with your bare hands or to get away, or it is probably best to let them take what they want and report them afterwards to the police.
      Police told me about a gringo who killed someone in a traffic accident without a fault of his own. He was locked up regardless and his life turned to legal hell. It took him a lot of money to get off the hook.

  38. I understand very well the residual trauma and insecurity…we were robbed 12 weeks ago in Urcuqui. Took my husbands life work in his special computer… all the computers in broad daylight in front of many onlookers. We found ourselves in high speed chases and on the back of police motorcycles flying through the streets…
    (the neighbors saved us, took pictures, risked themselves to report it.) I screamed and cried hysterically because of my husbands work… He has lost 40 lbs intensely focused on it… I made a scene in the streets (no anger…TEARS and kisses on cheeks etc.) and at the police station… telling them in broken Spanish it was an all important program for education for THEIR children in Ecuador (true) and that President Correa would know of the fine work they were doing to find it.
    After much drama… the computers showed up… The culprits walked out when we did…laughing with their family.
    There are not too many places left in this insane world where one can be safe to stand out at night and speak with neighbors… instead of being held up in our locked and secured houses with sharp wires and security alarms. Not being able to wear simple jewelry or stand on the street. The USA will have major issues soon and being there is definitely not an option.
    I spent all my days looking for a place to live and feel safe. Suffice to say we left Ecuador. We are in another place I choose not to mention. I can actually walk out at night and see the moon and stars. I cannot live where I have to watch my back every minute and not live normally. We are so naive in these countries… Perfect targets. Maybe I am a snob…yes a snob… While most of the world has no choice, I choose a more civilized environment. It is hard to find.
    May we all navigate these coming critical times with discernment and God’s blessings.

  39. You and the others are part of the reason the guys keep robing others.
    A report should have been filed so Police can do there ob correctly. The police know who they are.

    1. Thank you for your insightful comment. It is very easy to tell others what they should have done. You should really be thinking about what you would have done in the same circumstances.

  40. I have lived in Ecuador for over 8 years. My wife is Ecuadorian. We now live in Quito. I love the Ecuadorian people. However, I have been robbed many times and in many different ways. Not yet at gun or knife point. Our house has been robbed 5 or 6 times, I have been drugged on a bus between Quito and Riobamba (they used some sort of drug in a cream, it just puts you in a dream). The bus assistant was part of it. No one did anything, I now wear long trench coats on the trolley to slow down the pick pockets. Ecuador, and in my opinion, all Latin American countries have a culture of not accepting personal or community responsibility for anything (good or bad) including the terrible accidents they cause, and crimes like robbery. The people and police simply tolerate it. In fact, there is a attitude to blame the victim. This is most difficult part for me to comprehend. What happened to these people so that they accept the drugs, drunks and thieves in their neighborhoods and country? How could they possibly say things that imply it is your fault? (where you live, the color of your skin, you speak with an accent, you look different, your house is painted and clean, you were walking on the street, you defended yourself or your wife, you used your phone/camera/tablet – of course, it will be stolen). I continue to spend a amazing amount of time and money trying to anticipate the thieves. Don’t expect any help from your neighbors or the police. Expect your Ecuadorian friends to blame you. I simply try to concentrate on why I am here, and enjoy the good things that Ecuador has to offer. The thieves are not one of them.

  41. my daughter, who lives in Cuenca, but is visiting Peru this weekend, just got robbed last night down there, cash and debit card, I do not yet have the details, it sucks for sure, and she is very street smart, you can’t be too careful.

      1. so we got the rest of the story this morning, the 4 of them, two my daughters age about 24, the other two mature men 50’s 60’s age, all friends, robbed at gunpoint last night in Peru, near or at their hostal,,, Kelly gave them her pocketbook, as did her young friend, that was enough I guess, they did not rob the guys, took some money but not her life, of course all they want is the money I guess

  42. I am very sorry that you and your wife had to suffer through such a horrible experience but glad to hear that you have gotten through it. Regarding violent crime in Ecuador: The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (“UNDOC”) publishes yearly homicide statistics (see Wikipedia). The rate of homicides in the United States for 2012 was 4.7 per 100,000 people. The rate of homicides in Ecuador for 2012 was over three times higher, at 18.2 per person. So, the statistics, at least, do not seem to support the assertion that crime is “less violent” in Ecuador. And, that’s just reported crime. It seems that there are many, many crimes in Ecuador that go unreported because of a feeling that the police have a low rate of apprehension of criminals, or, as you indicate, for fear of retaliation.

    1. It’s true that the murder rate is higher in Ecuador. And I think that murders are reported equally in both countries. But this is different than robbery.
      While armed robbery is itself a violent act, the statistics you shared don’t automatically correspond to the country being more violent in general. From the news media, it would appear that the majority of murders (in Azuay province at least) are related to other criminal activity. Murders often occur in areas known for drugs and prostitution – and late at night. This isn’t a significant concern for the general citizen.

  43. Hi Bryan, we are reading this as we prepare to move from an apt in a secure building to a house. It has me a little unnerved. I was wondering if you could clarify why it was a mistake to stand outside and visit with your neighbor? Is it so dangerous, in general, that one has to stay behind the gate of one’s home? I’ve been anxious about our decision to leave this guarded building for a single- family house and now I’m feeling even more concerned. I know you mentioned this type of crime is rare in Cuenca, but could you expound a bit more on what you think might have contributed to your being a target? Thanks so much

    1. We felt that it as a mistake because it was night time and on a side-road with almost no traffic. I don’t feel that it is that dangerous – but if we had been behind the gate, we likely would have avoided the robbery. It is just a retrospective regret.
      Cities generally change at night – different types of people become active and they can become more dangerous. And while we’ve walked around Cuenca at night without any problems we are more cautious – especially not to be the only people on a street.
      We don’t feel that we were targeted because of being foreigners – I don’t think that had anything to do with it. We were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. The location of your house is very important. It’s important that you won’t have to return home to an empty street.

  44. Thanks for sharing this. I understand why it took so long, speaking from a similar experience having happened to me more recently than that, and I still don’t like talking about it.
    It’s a sad reality of the world we live in that things like that happen, and it doesn’t matter what country you live in sometimes or where you’re from. That’s what I told myself, that being robbed can happen to anyone anywhere anytime. And the worst part, for me anyway, was the aftershocks, not the very quick occurrence itself.
    So thank you for being brave enough to share what happened, and keep writing, for someone who spent a good amount of time in Ecuador it’s a joy to read, and really good information for those looking to move too!!!
    Say hi to the family, seeing y’all briefly in New York was great!! 🙂

    1. For us, the effects were worse than the event as well. It’s hard to know how you will react until you’re in the situation. Sorry to hear that you were robbed.
      It was great to cross paths a few months ago! Thanks for your comment!

  45. Bless you and your family. Thank you for sharing such a heart wrenching story. God was looking over your family. It is a gift that your daughter was ill and was up stairs when the robbery occured. Your posting may give us all a pause as we go about our daily business and remind us, not to become to comfortable with our personal security. As well as always being aware of our surroundings.
    As we have witnessed the how the police have multipled in Cuenca, it is easier to become complacent. I to feel much more comfortable walking around Cuenca because there is a feeling that crime has decreased because of more police on the street. Thank you again for sharing.

  46. Very scary. Not sure how I would have handled something like this. I recall a friend talking about being robbed in Columbia years ago, and having a policeman shoot and kill the robber right in front of him, and then calmly request that he pay for the bullets! I have to admit that experiences related such as these were what shaped my early opinions about South America in general. But your positive experiences are the ones we should keep in mind – these bad occurrences are the exception, not the rule.

    1. Wow – that would have been disturbing.
      The problem with stories of crime – like ours and the others in the comments – is that often travelers don’t have anything else to consider and they assume that that is how life is. When, if fact, this isn’t that common.

  47. I think it’s disgusting and reprehensible you waited 2 years to post anything about this. You’re one of the very gringos seeking to profit from getting other gringos to move to Cuenca, and you deliberately HID this for 2 years.
    If I meet you in the streets of Cuenca I will give you a piece of my mind.
    I love Cuencanos, in general. It’s the profit-seeking gringos who are scum and whom you can’t trust.

    1. If you read our blog you would have known that we have referred to this more than a dozen times over the past two years. This is not “deliberately” hiding anything. In fact, as the post mentioned, I was so affected by what happened so that I had trouble writing about it.
      I find it fascinating that you know more about our business than we do. How do you suppose, that we profit from getting people to move to Cuenca? We sell no services. I don’t care if someone moves to Ecuador or not. Our goal is to give people the information they need to make an informed choice. Our blog has been giving away information for almost five years. Our tens of thousands of monthly readers will disagree with your assessment. There are bloggers and businesses who sugarcoat life in Ecuador to sell products and services. But that isn’t us. We write about getting sick, drinking water (contested by many) crime and the bad days of life abroad. It is this honesty that has made our site one of the biggest in the country.
      And regardless of timelines, what affect do you think this post will have on our readers? Some will take it all in stride and move anyway. But we knew before publishing, that this post will cause some expats not to move. If we were marketing Cuenca as you claim, we just shot ourselves in the foot. But here’s the thing: We aren’t marketing anything. We are sharing our experience so it will hopefully help others.
      I think you need to take a serious look at where these negative feelings are really coming from. Maybe your strong words are a response to the fear you felt as you read the post? If our paths cross, I’m happy to discuss this with you, but I don’t want to fight about it.

      1. I agree with you Brian not sure where that angry rant came from. Common sense prevails in most cases

        1. Whew! What an angry and undeserved flame……moving on.
          This report was very helpful. Thanks for posting it Bryan.

      2. There are always going to be haters. Lily is one of them.
        Great blog piece. You are to be commended for telling like it is, both the good and the bad.
        As for me, I have never been robbed while traveling, just pick pocketed a couple of times, once in Barcelona and once in the Philippines. I have been stopped at gunpoint by guerrillas in Guatemala and Nepal during their respective civil wars – the Nepalese just wanted a little money and both groups just wanted to be able to tell their side of the story. I think I would have been a lot more scared if I was robbed like you guys. Good on you for coming to terms with it the best that you can and staying.

      3. Bryan,
        Clearly the individual above has never experienced PTSD. I’ve suffered from it for a long time and completely understand the need for the passage of time to process a traumatic event before you can muster up the strength to share something so painful and personal. It took me over 20 years before I was able to get to that point. That being said, the term “delibrately hid” just shows the individual’s lack of understanding on the subject and lack of empathy.
        My family and I are JWs looking into moving to Ecuador so I really appreciate the honesty of this post. Several of my brothers and friends who already live there paint a very one sided “no problem, totally safe” picture, based on their experiences. Our children are 6 and 3, so security is a huge issue for us. Because of my persistant PTSD, I become hypervigillant in unfamiliar places, especially when I have my kids with me, (you should’ve seen me in NYC) so having a well balanced view of the security will go along way. And having read your post, helps consider the danger of becoming complacient, or overly comfortable. Your candor on that point is invaluable, thank you.
        I’ve personally had a gun pulled on me, and been threatened several times in the territory where we live in the US, so I know “security” is relative (and we live in a small, quiet little town in FL). But it seems that your family had a “if this happens” discussion ahead of time, so you could calmly follow thru… That’s something our family should definately do prior to traveling. Also having decoy jewlery, thats something I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.
        Thank you very much for your humility, and honesty in sharing this post.
        Also do you have any info on schooling? Homeschooling vs local schools etc.. How registration for elementary school works on different visas… I’ve been finding conflicting information on many websites and was wondering what your experience has been. We’ll probably be on temporary visas for a while before we can get permenant ones. My husband is a fluent Spanish speaker, although our children are not, but some friends have said just putting them in public shool, they will pick it up.
        Thank you again!
        Affably yours,
        Tiffany H.

    2. Lily: I think it is disgusting and reprehensible that you called my parents ‘scum’.
      In my eyes, you were frightened from what you read in this post. You were worried that it might happen to you.

    3. Damn girl, you must have forgotten your meds the day you wrote that flaming comment. Bizarre.
      Bryon, sorry your family had to go through that and I commend your choice to use it as a growing opportunity and choose to work through the fear. Trauma takes time and effort to move through.
      I belong to a Puerto Vallarta fb page and it bugs me how so many ex-pats overreact whenever someone posts about something negative that happened to them there. I would rather go in with eyes wide open than in a Disney fog. Wherever there is poverty, there will be crime, be that Vancouver or Cuenca.

  48. One of my thefts happened on an intercity bus leaving Quito. Sitting half way back in the bus, isle seat with a small bag in the window seat, a passenger behind me distracted me in conversation and his partner in crime reached over the seat and took the bag. Minutes later I turned around, saw the bag had been opened and looked inside to see what was missing. I had hundreds of dollars of small electronics in the bag. They took my $20 Mexican cell phone. Hmmm…, I stood up and looked at the man who had taken the phone. Before I could say anything he handed it back. But where was the phone case? Looked under the seat and it had been tossed under his seat. Tsk, tsk, I stood up again and pointed under his seat. He reached under and handed the case back to me. Not a single word was spoken between us. I sat back down, opened my book and at the next stop they got off the bus.
    On the other hand, a friend had ridden the trolley back home from his Quito job at 5 in the afternoon. The trolley’s are packed at that time of day. Wearing a sweater over his dress shirt and carrying a pack, he got off at his stop to find his sweater and shirt had been cut open to get to his shirt pocket, his front pant pocket had been cut, along with his wallet pocket–he had all his ID including his SS card and credit cards, along with his US drivers license. Likewise, his backpack. He didn’t feel a thing on the crowded trolley. He railed against the thieves. I thought he was mighty lucky. With all that cutting, he didn’t lose a single drop of blood.
    What I’ve noticed in most all these stories of theft I’ve heard, there’s usually more than one’s fair share of stupidity on the part of the victims.

    1. Very true. Understanding how things work can prevent the majority of crimes.
      Your experience on the bus makes me laugh – would have been great to have that interaction filmed. 🙂

      1. It was hilarious. I approached him with the attitude of someone who had leant his phone to a stranger and was simply requesting it’s return. His guilty, “cat eating the canary” expression was priceless. What caught me off guard was it happened at 10 o’clock in the morning with passengers in front and behind us. Who would have thunk?

  49. So sorry to hear about your experience. My husband and I were victims of sequestro express in Quito in 1999. Very traumitizing, but thankfully we were ok. We are back in Quito living now with our kids after 9 yrs. In the US. Crime can happen anywhere, and honestly I think in the US, for example, the crime is more violent and unpredictable (I.e. mass shootings or random acts of violence). In EC for the most part, robberies of one’s belongings are more common, but you don’t lose your life, and if you are cautious, it can often be prevented. In our case, we were walking down an empty street after midnight. Not smart.

    1. I agree that while petty crime is fairly common here, it isn’t as violent as in the US. Thieves seem to be making their living here – as compared to people with serious mental problems shooting everyone in sight. Last week a man in New Brunswick (Canada) killed a number of police officers as he walked around town with a rifle. I’ve never heard of that happening here.

      1. Hi Brian,
        I live in Moncton, NB. It’s kind of funny that I was reading this post and the comments, thinking about the very few times I have encountered the threat of violence in my life, when your comment reminded me about the shooter who locked down our city a few weeks ago.
        Believe it or not, I had completely forgotten about that.
        What happened was not typical, as you noted, and we at least did not lose our sense of security. As some of your posters mentioned, these are indeed critical times, hard to deal with. Even sleepy old Moncton gets a wake up call from time to time.
        The only time I actually had a gun pulled on me was in Saint John NB, when I was pulled over by police
        (mistaken identity, apparently I was driving the same type of car as a particularly nasty person they were looking for) Still, it affected me for months afterward. If I was driving and noticed a police car behind me, I would start shaking and have to pull off the road. My encounter was relatively mild, so I can only imagine how such a sudden and violent threat as the one your family faced would have affected you.
        I appreciate your sharing this post with us. My wife and I have been reading your blog for over a year now, as well as many others from Ecuador. We have friends who recently moved to Cuenca. They have been back visiting in NB lately, and I will be driving them to Montreal this weekend so they can catch their plane back to their new home.
        My wife and I are looking at moving to Loja in about a year, to help with Deaf people living in the area. I feel your blog has always given an honest appraisal about life in Ecuador, and appreciate your generosity in sharing the information with us. We are taking the time to plan well, and your blog has been instrumental in helping us do just that.
        Anyway, I’m happy to hear about fellow maritimers enjoying their life in Ecuador, and look forward to joining you in the near future.
        Best wishes to you and your family.
        Bob and Brenda Gracie

  50. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I can imagine that the emotional trauma has long lasting effects. We are expats living on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. Last week, we returned after a month in Ecuador. Maybe it’s because we’ve been expats for many years, but we felt completely safe in Cuenca and all of the places we visited in Ecuador. We speak Spanish, and our first question is always, “Tell us the places not to walk in Cuenca…Quito…Banos, etc.
    Living on an island of peace, our experiences with robberies have been minimal. They do occur, but they are mostly crimes of opportunity…a long watering hose left in the garden…a hammock swinging from a tree…a bunch of bananas growing near our fence on the walking path next to our beach. What bothers me the most are the people who work us for money. Our head construction worker stole over $600 from us on the pretense that he needed to be bonded for a job and he would return the money to us, $50 a month. He signed a contract with us, and gave us the title to his motorcycle as collateral. He ran off with another woman, and we never saw him again. His motorcycle was repossessed. I am still so angry with myself for being played for a fool. We had a 2 year relationship, and he was pretending to ‘like’ us until he could make the big move for our money. It takes a long time to establish trust. Sometimes, we learn lessons the hard way, but I cannot be paranoid or fearful of living abroad. I am passionate about cultural immersion…there’s nothing that would make me leave my beloved island.

  51. Thanks for posting, Bryan. It’s best to share the truth with people, and despite this post my wife and I are still planning to visit Cuenca in August to see if it’s a place we might sink some roots for awhile. We will look forward to meeting you. We previously lived in Cambodia for three years and had a similar experience while crossing the street to our apartment one night after dinner. Four guys on two motorbikes who had obviously been tracking us as we walked along the street zoomed by and grabbed Gabi’s purse, containing her wallet, cell phone, camera and keys, and were off down the road before we could do anything. The experience made us wiser, more thoughtful and careful, but did nothing to color our opinion of the wonderful, kind and welcoming Cambodian people. A few bad apples, and all that. Like you, we re-thought how we traveled at night, what we carried with us, and where we went. And we never had another problem. So, onward.

    1. It’s great to hear that you’re still coming to visit.
      We weren’t sure of how this post might affect new expats – but we wanted to share what happened so it might help others avoid this.

  52. Holly and I have gone over this possibility many times. We have the basic plan that when a mugging looks likely, she is to run without a word being said to the nearest, well light, safe area. I will follow after whatever happens and find her. I can handle being mugged (I have been mugged once and attempted a second time). I can’t handle having Holly put at risk. She knows why I feel this way, and that it’s the best way to keep us both alive when this happens to us in Cuenca.

    1. It is important to know how to handle it. My neighbors reaction scared me – I was afraid that he was going to make it much worse.
      The hardest part of the experience for me, was seeing my wife at risk. And thinking about our daughter also being harmed. We have spent significant time with Drew, preparing her for that possibility and helping her know how to handle it.

  53. Thanks for sharing! The fact that you don’t sugarcoat your experience in Ecuador just makes your website even better than it already is!

  54. We were robbed about two weeks after moving into the house we had built in 2009- at 8:30 in the morning – sitting at the kitchen table – two young guys – one with a gun – one with a machette – they taped our wrists together, and our ankles, put tape over our mouths – my SO said “not the computers” and the two robbers started yelling – I told him to be quiet, they just want our stuff – they took all our electronics and some cash – they put me in one bathroom and he in another – what we did not know was that there was a third one who was at the caretakers house – tied them up as well with their three year old granddaughter – they ransacked the house – stuffed everything except the TV into backpacks they had on – carried out the TV- while in the bathroom we were both able to get the tape off as they taped our wrists in the front of us, not behind our backs – we were not hurt – we went to check on the caretakers – they came running toward our house as we went running toward theirs – there was a police cruiser going by – we hailed them down and they came in – shrugged their shoulders – asked if they could have the ziplock bag that was on the floor full of pens and pencils – and left – the police came from the city – took down some info – thought they knew one of the robbers – but we could not identify anyone as they had ski masks-hats on – We believe one was probably someone who had worked on the house and the other one had on a wet bathing suit under his jeans so we figured he was a local fisherman that just came off the beach – that was almost five years ago – we had no neighbors – we immediately put fancy grills on the windows and doors and a fence around the property – over the almost five years we have lived here since the robbery we have got to know the Ecuadorians, the bus drivers, use the same couple of taxis coming or going to the city – we never dressed fancy going to the city to do our shopping – don’t wear any jewelry – are aware of our surroundings – treat all maestro’s with respect – use common sense at all times – our robbery happened two weeks after we first arrived in Ecuador and moved into our home which had just been completed – we have not had any trouble since — — Now another tale – there was a house next door which was for sale – a couple moved in – a big house – they were renovating – the lady of the house continually screamed at the maestro’s – we could hear her all the way over to our place – they left maestro’s in the house while they were gone – the house was decorated beautifully – but, there were never any curtains, drapes, blinds, grills, nada on any of the windows – when they lights were on at night we could see them walking around, upstairs and downstairs – they lived there after all “for the view”, why cover it up – – the maestro’s would show up once and vow never to work for them again – they treated everyone as their personal slaves – they insisted on being called Dr. (after all they had worked for their PHD’s in education) – the lady of the house was always dressed to the nines – no matter where they were going – the man of the house thought he was hercules – he showed us a Swiss Army knife when we told him about our robbery -“this was before they bought the house next door” and said “I have this, I’m not worried, I can take them on” poor guy was not in the best of health and had to walk with a cane – well the day came when six men with guns, machetes showed up in the middle of the night – the man of the house started throwing things at the robbers – they hit him over the head with the machette, leaving 30 or so stitches I hear – the women of the house was rolled up in blankets, etc – they ransacked the house – they had a truck with them – they apparently stole jewelry, money, and other valuable treasures – they now live in Cuenca – of course, as usual, it was not their fault in the least – it was our fault, their next door neighbors who were in the states for almost seven months, me having open heart surgery during that time – they blamed us for everything and they accused our caretaker of robbing them (this caretaker had been on the property for seven years through three different owners – all who love him to this day) he could not tolerate her screaming at him all the time, that was a given – but to my dying day I know in my heart he was not capable of doing what was done to them – – but she told the police he did it – the man of the house said he had a photographic memory and he recognized one of the A/C men who had just installed air conditioners in the house but the lady of the house told him to be quiet – so I’m told – who knows – I only know I’m glad they are in Cuenca now. Thank you God – The house is still for sale – I shudder every time I hear they are coming, her continual screaming is nerve racking – so there are two stories, we were robbed but not treated badly, it was a robbery of convenience – two older folks – the other robbery was very personal – there was never any respect, no common sense what-so-ever – nothing except treating other people with the utmost disrespect and leaving all their belongings for all to see.

      1. This was in Las Gilces, Crucita, Ecuador on the coast just north of Manta – We went back to our house in the states for a couple months while the house in Ecuador was being outfitted with window grilles and a few other things – We have not had any problem since except for the occasional hose missing, a plastic table and six chairs from the patio – a gas tank from the bodega — These things usually occur right after we have had work done on the house – we use recommended contractors – but they have different workers coming and going – So now we keep a log of the workers ID, Name, Address, phone number, etc.
        The neighbors now live in Cuenca – and from what I understand are still treating maestro’s like slaves – still dressing to the nines – apparently they have learned nothing – and are refusing to replace the fence in front of their house here in Crucita which is still for sale as she even treats the people who are at all interested in purchasing the house with the utmost contempt. — Plus when they moved they stripped the house but not until the pictures they took with all the beautiful furniture, pictures, mirrors, double sinks, etc. etc. – that is the pictures they are using in their advertisement – but the house is now bare to the walls including fixtures,l etc.

  55. so sorry to hear about this sad story Bryan. Thank God your daughter was out of the picture. You really don’t have to blame yourselves though. Am sure your someone in your hood knew about it…you would be surprised your very neighbor is the one behind it. This may be hard to believe but 99 percent of the time …this is actually what happens. Give God thanks for His protection over your family. We have also been robbed here in Jamaica and it was very painful. We moved out of the house the same month and this really helped especially my wife. We hope to live in Quito when we move over to Ecuador. Cheers!

  56. Great post and I’m really sorry that this happened to you, I can’t imagine how it must feel to see a gun held against the head of a loved one. When I was young we lived in Zambia a few years and had the house robbed. Up to now however (knock on wood) I/we have never gotten robbed at gunpoint.
    We’re leaving in a month to travel and will have long stays in a few places along the way. Its crossed my mind a few times; what if something would happen to us on our travels? What if something happened to my wife? I’ve always wanted to travel and I’m the one who’s led the way – if something happened I would forever feel responsible. I can totally empathize with all the emotions you’ve felt over the last 2 years and I think it’s brave that you guys decided to stay there after this experience.
    Thanks for sharing the story.
    Frank (bbqboy)

  57. Yes, actually while visiting Cuenca we took a bus trip to Chordoleg upon returning I placed my phone in the seat under my leg then feel asleep on my wife’s shoulder. My wife awakened me at the bus terminal I jumped up and exited the bus and once inside the terminal I realized I didn’t have my phone, I returned to the bus however, no phone and the bus driver wasn’t very helpful. The wife noticed a lady that was or looked familiar to a lady that was behind us while we exited bus outside the terminal, I chased the lady and asked for my phone, she stated she didn’t have it. A police officer arrived and made the lady empty her purse and her kids backpacks onto the sidewalk. We never found my phone but has happy with the intervention of the police officer. At first we were angry and frustrated about what to do but decided to not let it spoil our visit to Ecuador but I did make it more difficult for me since my offline translator was on my phone.

    1. Thanks Charlie. It’s important not to let a bad experience spoil everything. After a theft, it’s probably best to just consider it gone and move on. The odds of getting the stuff back is almost zero – regardless of where it happens.

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