I was chatting with another gringo this evening. A recent home invasion of a gringo’s new, isolated beach-front home in the middle of the night, just a few miles from us has generated conversation and concern in the local gringo community. A few of us figure that maybe somewhere between 6-8 robberies, rapes, home invasions and other crimes have been perpetrated against gringos in our community in the past 6 or so months. To be honest, it is hard to know as it is only the communication between the local expats that provides this information.
There is cause for concern and caution and I certainly do not want Diane or I or any others, to be the victims of a violent crime. BUT….a relatively small number of crimes against gringos each month(again, our best estimate) in our area is not exactly a huge crime spree compared to the numbers of similar crimes in any medium sized city or even a small town in the U.S.
The truth is that gringos living here and other developing nations are prime targets. We are wealthier than most of those we live among and many of us are of retirement age; not exactly in peak fighting shape. Our homes are filled with computers, televisions, cell phones, cameras and other things that can be readily sold by a thief. And we probably have a little bit of cash around. There are precautions to be taken and we have taken them but it is also important to have a plan in the event that you find yourself facing the barrel of a gun or the pointy end of a knife or machete. We have our plan and it is designed to optimize our chances to come away from any such encounter alive and healthy. That’s it! Nothing else matters, period!
Again, we don’t believe this is a large problem but we are a small target population. It feels like a bigger problem.
I was talking to a couple of Ecuadorian women this morning and learned that both of them had been the victims of violent crimes on more than one occasion. One of them has family members highly placed in the Ecuadorian government. She sent me a copy of a letter she sent to a number of government officials demanding action to take a firm stance against these crimes against gringos.
She recognized, in her letter, that retired folks coming to Ecuador from North America or Europe, to spend their final years, do a great deal of good for their communities. We spend more money each year in support of local markets, restaurants and other stores than locals. We may even employ 1-2 local folks as domestic help. We are a boon to the local economy. She also addressed the fact that if Americans begin to feel uncomfortable and/or unsafe here, they may leave and others will not follow.
We still REALLY enjoy our life here and will continue to take precautions to be safe in whatever we do. But the truth is some bad guys, some day, could decide to make us their next victim. We’ve been through crap before and we will survive such an incident but we will do everything practically possible to stay safe while enjoying a full, rich life. We will not remain locked up!!
We met with the victims of that recent home invasion, in their home, for about an hour or so yesterday. It was a sobering experience and generated much conversation between Diane and I. Deep breaths!! After all the discussions were done, and after we had re-committed to our “plan” should we be attacked…I slept pretty well. It was pretty close to home and we took lessons from their experience. Even after that, we continue to say, with conviction….This Does Not Suck!