Some of the best memories of my life, so far, come from the time I lived in Ecuador. Looking back, it’s a bit strange that this would be the case. While abroad, my best friend betrayed me. Any inkling of respect or positive regard has long since faded, but it was fresh pain at the time. But no matter the disappointment I was experiencing, it would immediately vanish when I ventured up to this rooftop and gazed over the city of Quito.
This rooftop, the top level of the house I lived in for the duration of my time in Quito, served as a terrific place to escape, pray and admire the beauty of the city. When things are emotionally draining now, I often find myself on the road to the mountains. I definitely miss having such a spectacular view just a few floors above, rather than four hours away!
Quito, Ecuador, is far from a safe place. That being said, the crime does not tend to be violent. As long as you cooperate with a criminal without fuss, usually meaning handing over your wallet or cell phone, they will do you no harm. Non-violent crime such as this has, not surprisingly, been on the rise in recent years because the Ecuadorian economy is based on the United States. Since 2000, Ecuador has used the dollar as the legal currency. Being constantly careful and aware of one’s surroundings prevents the one from being the victim of petty crime; I am happy to say that I never fell victim to any crime while abroad. Even so, I developed a type of ‘paranoia’. In Quito, it wasn’t really paranoia but rather the extra awareness required to stay out of harm’s way. Back in the States, however, it can feel a bit like paranoia. For example, over a year later, I have an exceedingly difficult time leaving my purse unattended – even draping it behind me on a chair at a restaurant. When walking in the dark, even if on the safe campus of Elon, I can feel my fight or flight response kick in. There are certain habits that are hard to shake. (More safety ranting in my post about Atacames, following the mugging of a friend!)
This hyper-awareness helps explain why the rooftop of my Ecuadorian home was such a haven. To get into the building, four keys had to be used (and that’s not even counting the three more to get into the apartment). And so, from the safety of the roof, I could always let my guard down. Ecuador is a terrific, terrific place. Perhaps a little rough around the edges, but to anyone with a sense of adventure it is a goldmine.
One day, I’ll be back