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As in an any major city, it is important to be aware of your belongings and to be attentive, but not overly paranoid, about your surroundings. Avoid walking alone at night or in remote areas, and always take taxis after dark (after 7 p.m.), even for only a distance of two blocks. Especially on crowded city buses, pickpocketing and bag snatching or slashing are fairly common. In general, don't bring out anything you cannot afford to lose. On inter-city and international buses, sometimes other people pose as conductors and tell you to put your bag somewhere just out of sight, while items from your bag are stolen. Always keep your belongings close to you and within reasonable vision (never put them under a seat or in the overhead racks).

Common Scams

Thieves tend to work in small groups and often use distractive ploys to rip off their victims. One popular method involves spilling mustard or another substance on a victim and then offering to help, while another robber steals the victim's bag. Unfortunately, children are also involved in these schemes and may pose a fight, try to sell candy or beg for money as a way to distract, while another child takes some belongings. Drugging has also been used to subdue victims and steal their items. Thieves have put the date rape drug, which is colorless and odorless, in food, drink and on fliers, and have even laced perfumes and flowers with it.

Be especially cautious when using ATMs. If you are in an enclosed ATM and a few local men or woman surround you and insist that you swipe your card once more in order to unlock the door, then a popular scam is probably at work. Numerous travelers have run into this same problem, particularly in the Mariscal, and subsequently have had their card information and money stolen. Try to use ATMs in daylight and be aware of who is watching you while withdrawing money. Likewise, there have been reports of some ATMs not dispersing money and spitting out receipts claiming that no money has been withdrawn, while the entered amount has actually been taken out of the person's account. In this situation, keep the receipt from the transaction and contact your bank immediately.

More recently, express kidnappings—when taxi drivers drive a passenger to one or more ATMs and force the person to withdraw money—have become more common in Quito, so be sure to take only yellow, registered cabs with orange license plates and 4-digit numbers plastered on their windshields and car door. Another, safer option is to call a radio taxi (easiest one to remember is: 222-2222), which will meet you at your location. Even though these taxis are often not yellow, either the driver will know your name from the call or the cab company will relay the number of the taxi due to show, which will confirm that it is yours. Keep in mind that taxis are supposed to use meters before dark, but many will claim that they don't have one or that theirs is broken, in which case, you should always negotiate the price before getting in. Even those with meters may pull some tricks on passengers by unplugging the meter right before arriving at the destination and charging a bit more.

It is wise to avoid using or buying illegal drugs in general. Often times, those who you are buying drugs from or who you are using drugs with have connections with the cops and are looking for bribes. Bribes or not, these types of activities may land you in some serious legal trouble.

Also, some local men and women seek relations with foreigners for the sole purpose of having access to their money, citizenship or both. Foreigners are stereotypically pegged as wealthy, and thus are seen as an impetus to a better life. Therefore, be careful who you become romantically involved with while in Ecuador, and know you can be a target of one of these phony relationship scams.

Finally, know that fake tour operators do exist and that you run the risk of being scammed if you are not careful about checking the reputation and credentials of certain companies.

UV Radiation
At an elevation of 2,850 meters (9,350 ft) and a location just 25 kilometers (15 mi) from the equator, it is no surprise that Quito gets blasted by the sun's rays. The Ecuadorian Civil Space Agency (EXA), however, has discovered that these problems have been exacerbated by a thinning of the Ozone layer over Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. Quito is subjected to UV radiation measured at 24 UVI; anything over 11 UVI is considered unsafe.

Extended exposure to such high levels of UV radiation can lead to skin cancer, vision problems and cell mutation. The wisest preventative measures are to wear long sleeves and pants, wear a hat that covers your face and neck, and bring along a pair of good UV-resistant sunglasses. Covering any exposed flesh with sunblock is also a great idea. EXA's website has a real-time UV radiation meter, which can give you the current reading in Quito and a handful of other cities.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Quito: Long-term Accommodation in Quito, Education for Kids and Teenagers, Centro Histórico Hotels, Centro Historico Restaurants, Cafes & Bars, Medical, History of Quito, Maid Services In Quito, Quito's Weather and Climate, Hiking Around Quito and Centro Historico Churches & Museums.

15 Oct 2013

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