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Safety & Security in Ecuador

One thing that has been very puzzling to me is the level and depth of attention to personal safety and security of all "gringos" in Ecuador. Even before I arrived in Ecuador, there were detailed reports and blogs about how careful tourists need to be. I thought that it would be natural caution as one would exercise in most big cities of the world, but here it is much more serious. Most Hotels have their own fleet of taxis that they have lined up for their guests to use, and we are encouraged to only use those. When one is out and about one is encouraged to use only taxis that are recommended by the Hotel, or the establishment one has to visit as tourists have been hijacked by rogue taxis. The consciousness that surrounds visitors is one of being a threatened species. If one goes out one should not have any valuables on one. No jewelry, cameras, valuables, etc. etc. So right off the bat got into the habit of locking up all of my personal valuables in the in-room safe, and carrying only a copy of my passport on me, with some change and good-sized dollars in my pockets. My small camera and phone of course can be safely stashed away in my coat pockets.

So two days ago after dinner in the late afternoon, decided to go for a walk in Manta any way. I was just waiting for some hijackers to abduct me or something, but seem to have done extremely well from block to block of walking. Just could not help to notice ARMED guards in front of every business I was passing. Including inside the TAME Airline office when I was making some adjustments to my booking. There must be an enormously thriving industry in security guards and equipment in Ecuador.

So can't help but wonder what all this safety and security warnings are about. I'm sure there must be something to it. But after that walk decided to follow my own instincts as to what safety and security precautions I need to take. Very sad however as there is this wonderful sea wall hugging the harbour, yacht club, ship building and fishery areas of Manta, yet last night as I was passing it in a taxi at sunset, completely empty of tourists. Last night was particularly a great night for it as the sea was perfectly calm, almost like a mirror. Would have been wonderful to have taken a walk without watching one's back.

In Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city (3.5 million people) there is a sea (river) wall stretching for a few kilometres that is heavily guarded by armed guards, so that was great walking. Amazing to notice however how over populated it was by locals. Which probably shows a need for safe recreation areas for locals as well.

I would love to visit Ecuador again one day, particularly the Pacific Coast area as that turned out to be the highlight of my trip. However the armed guards every where, and feeling of being restricted because of safety and security concerns, is a bit off putting.

3 blog comments below

Dean, they are probably trying to protect the tourist to keep the economy going. One bad incident involving a tourist making news could destroy that part of their economy for some time.
standready on Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:31 pm
Good point Stand. Including the Pool Rules probably as well. Smile
deanhills on Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:26 pm
Those pool rules are just plain crazy!
standready on Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:46 pm

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