When locals tell you that it’s dangerous to walk the streets at night, you should listen. As it is in Quito, my host mother urged me to take a taxi home when going out to the discotecas. However, last night I ended up miles away from home and without enough money for a taxi ride home. How did I end up in such a situation and what was I to do?
Saturday night I went out for a drink with Katrin. It was my first night on the town and I brought with me a whole $19 because I did not plan to drink much. When we arrived in the Mariscal district in Quito, Katrin showed me a hole in the wall bar which only served warm fruit juice mixed with alcohol. It was their specialty but after one cocktail I decided that it was a bit too sweet for me. While sitting in the bar planning out our evening, a boy with a dozen roses tucked under his arm no older than 7 or 8 years old came up to me begging for me to purchase a rose from him. As with everyone else, I told him no, he then proceded to give me the saddest face I’ve ever seen a kid make. I held my ground and watched as the little guy struggled to open the heavy door on his way out.
I stayed with Katrin in the bar as she drank a second $1 fruit-ahol drink and texted some other Americans to ask them to join us. Without a response from the Americans, we walked around the Mariscal as it was the first time I had seen it at night! It was beautiful! It was probably around 11pm when Katrin and I were standing outside of a “backpacker” club called The Attic when her indecisiveness pushed me to suggest entering the bar and letting the night take us – which is exactly what we did.
When I was charged a $4 entrance fee, Katrin offered to pay for the cab ride home. The club wasn’t incredibly packed but the night was young and the DJ was solid. Katrin and I headed for the bar and she ordered another mixed drink while I ordered the most manly drink on the menu, a $3.50 shot of tequila. We ended up joining a group of pool players as they brought competitive bar pool to new heights including a “loser gets slapped bet.” After a few games of pool the DJ turned up the music and the dance floor began to fill.
I was not yet ready to dance so I bought two more shots and one of the pool players bought one for me as well. With four shots and a fruit-ahol under my belt, I became the dominant male dancer on the floor. While everyone else stood around bobbing I was taking full advantage of my salsa skills and I even danced a little merengue. I had an incredible time dancing with the chicas in the club although I did find out that the girl I danced with the most was only fifteen (the legal age for drinking and entering a club in Ecuador is 18).
As the night wrapped up I bought a bottle of water for $1 and around 2am Katrin came to me and informed me that she was leaving with someone. I asked a few required concerned friend questions before letting her rush off completely forgetting that she had offered to pay for the cab. As I left the club I realized my mistake, I was short on cash with only $2.50 left in my pocket.
During the day $2.50 would have been plenty to get me home but the cabs raise their prices at night. The first cab driver I asked wanted $4 the second $6, both were overpriced and refused to accept what was left of my money. I was reminded about a story from one of the students at Vida Verde who told me about being mugged in the Mariscal a year prior. Walking back was not an option so I kept shopping around until I found a cab driver who offered a $3 ride back. When I told him I only had $2.50 he reluctantly accepted. Immediately upon entering his cab Javier locked all the doors and reminded me of how dangerous Quito was at night. Without Javier’s concern for my wellbeing over finding a larger fair I might be writing a very different post today.
So far, I have prided myself on being prepared and packing well for this trip. Last night I slipped up and could have gotten myself into a lot of trouble. Luckily for me, I found someone more concerned with my safety than taking home a larger paycheck. Thanks Javier for an excellent end to another adventure in Quito!
Fact: The average yearly income in Ecuador is around $5,000.*