I'm currently reading Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath book. There's a section about London's response to the German blitzkrieg of 1940. Churchill and the rest of the government were worried that people would panic when the expected attack came. Psychiatric hospitals were set up in preparation for the mental casualties and an underground tunnel system was proposed.

But when the attacks arrived, Londoners responded almost indifferently. Some claim it's a result of British stoicism but those are probably only British claims. Regardless of the personality traits, the British persevered, life continued, and the rest is history.

Getting robbed early on during my fellowship here in Ecuador sucked. And I did not respond with stoicism at first, I was more surprised than anything. I know certain victims of crimes feel a sense of responsibility, at least in some respect, for putting themselves in a position to get harmed. I've always prided myself on being super vigilant and I've had a perfect track record—seven straight years of consistent travel with no incident. So yeah, I felt a little foolish. Hind sight is a killer and as I've replayed what happened in my mind, I feel a bit responsible and a little angry.

I immediately developed a short-lived hatred for all Ecuadorians. It's crazy how quickly that happened. It was my initial reaction. The bus driver shouldn't have picked up stray passengers and he could've feigned interest in trying to help.

I wasn't robbed at knife or gunpoint. I got hustled at a bus station. I let my guard down. It's an expensive lesson to learn but there is far less psychological fall out. 

So I took a deep breath, metaphorically and physically, and wrote it off. I might not be British but perhaps I´m blessed with some of that stoicism.The emotional swing was the most exhausting part. I realized I'm not getting my things back and that's okay. They're just things. Everything is replaceable.

Some of my anger has been tempered by the town I'm in-- Chimbo. It's about 6 hours by bus South of Quito and is stunning. Surprisingly, I have found a gym here. One dollar/day. This is one of those rare places in the world, where everyone invites me into their homes to eat. Chimbo makes the Catskills look like a desert. Lush is an understatement.

I feel bad for generalizing all Ecuadorians. They have been nothing but warm and hospitable to me. Bad things can happen anywhere and I don't want the robbery to negatively impact my experience. One day it will just be a story but I don't want it to be the story of Ecuador.

I'm alive, I have enough money to keep going, and I still have my books and journal, the most important possession I own. So let the story continue...

Comments

So sorry that happened, Jonah, but happy to know you're okay and not letting it dampen your spirit. I've had a business affair back home cast a slight shadow on my fellowship as well. So I appreciate your perspective on letting things go so they don't get in the way of what's right in front of us.

So sorry that happened, Jonah, but happy to know you're okay and not letting it dampen your spirit. I've had a business affair back home cast a slight shadow on my fellowship as well. So I appreciate your perspective on letting things go so they don't get in the way of what's right in front of us.

Great article Jonah. As fellows, we go beyond the tourist experience and learn a great deal (good and bad) about the places we serve. The bad stuff deepens your perspective. Looking forward to the rest of the story.

I am so sorry to hear about what happened. Thanks for sharing the emotional ups and downs we all feel when bad things happen, and your ability to still be open to and grateful for all the positives. It is a good reminder for all of us. Keep treasuring that journal!

Great article! Getting over these types of speedbumps during travels is essential! Don't let one bad apple spoil the bunch. Good things will come your way, enjoy Ecuador. Check out Mindo and the cloud forest!

Chin up, Jonah! So sorry about the robbery, but it happens to the best of us -- I've lost a couple wallets, a camera and a cell phone myself and it's always painful and really frustrating but you've got the right attitude. I had some weird near misses in Ecuador, too -- if a dainty old lady claiming illiteracy approaches you on the street with the handwritten address of the lawyer she needs to go see about claiming her lottery winnings and asks you, trustworthy-seeming American stranger, to accompany her there, politely decline!

Hi Jonah, I am currently a PCV here in Cuenca, Ecuador, and I've been here for almost 2 years now. I have been looking into Kiva a lot and would love to hear more about the fellowship. Please let me know if you have so time to talk with me about it! Also great post, and glad you were able to turn things around. Best of luck! Talia

Talia, Great to hear from you. Just finished up my Peace Corps service in October. I'd love to talk to you about Kiva, I'm a big proponent. I'll actually be coming to live in Cuenca in about two weeks. We could talk then or feel free to give me a buzz, 0999 866 742.

Johah, Now you know that "hurt" people "hurt" others and that this is what kiva.org is all about... alleviating the "hurt." Many blessings to you, my friend in the field.

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Hailing from the quaint town of Catskill, New York, Jonah Brill has long had a passion for travel and exploration. Before graduating from Cornell University’s school of Industrial and Labor Relations, Jonah dedicated each of his summers to a different international adventure, steeping himself in the local cultures of India, Africa, France, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. On these adventures, he rarely indulges in the cushy tourist amenities offered to travelers from the first world, instead opting for the authentic experience by staying with host families, using the local transportation and fearlessly consuming the indigenous cuisine. These adventures led to a natural transition into the Peace Corps, in which Jonah spent more than two years living with a family in the mountainous region of Simbal, Peru, taking on projects such as the construction of a local park and countless cocinas, a cleaner and healthier alternative to the open-fire wood stoves used in many Peruvian households that are poorly ventilated and give many users asthma. He also is a dedicated lifelong New York Knicks fan, another testament to his inherent dedication as he’s held steadfast loyalty even as the team lets him down year after year. Perhaps as he embarks on his next mission as a representative of Kiva in Ecuador, the team will surprise him with a chance championship victory, but more likely than not, this global citizen needs to settle with the fulfillment of helping improve the world for the better before returning to the states to earn his law degree.
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