A cautionary note from Adam Stein

Noting my arrival in Quito, Ecuador:

The following is a paid announcement from your father:

South America is most certainly not as safe as Southeast Asia. I was robbed
twice in Quito (bastards got my camera). Fortunately never violently,
although I heard plenty of nasty stories. Be particularly paranoid at the
terminal terrestre and on the buses themselves. Also, at night it makes
sense to take a cab for even a few blocks, especially if you’re alone. And
when scoring cocaine, buy in amounts smaller than one kilo, even if it means
paying a little bit more.

My hosts are charming Argentinians at the Casona de Mario, just outside the tourist area. They say ‘ciao’ a lot. Darío also warned me repeatedly to take taxis after dark, though it turned out he needn’t have bothered. I took a stroll at three o’clock yesterday (Sunday) and could hardly find a business open. The streets were deserted except in the gringo district, which is full of very young people discussing the anti-globalization movement over shawarma and pad thai. Under the briefest inspection, Quito reveals itself to be Not Mexico City and I couldn’t find a reason to stay out.

Back at the Casona de Mario, I discovered Joan and Melissa giving Oscars red carpet commentary on E!, and a brand-new British Vogue. I experienced fleeting moments of perfect joy until the Argentinians got sick of my rival monologue on the dresses—which I courteously delivered in Spanish in order to encourge them—and decided to switch to Ricos, Casados, y Infiel, a translated title that sums up everything about Warren Beatty’s appalling movie, Town and Country. Ungrateful philistines.

Sometimes it is difficult being an intrepid traveler forced into contact with other cultures.