Although details are reportedly sketchy, a Toronto couple, Stephen Aube, 40, a self-described spiritual healer, and his wife, Laura Milcawich, left Canada three weeks ago for the Ecuadorian town of Vilcabamba, which is near the southern city of Loja. Aube apparently was scheduled to facilitate a number of spiritual workshops in an area known as the "Valley of Longevity."
Nevertheless, on March 8, while walking on a mountain trail, the couple encountered a group of armed men which left the Canadians robbed and extorted and Ms. Milcawich in a local hospital protected by armed guards, where she apparently will be for at least two months.
COMMENT: According to Diego Castro, an interpreter for the Ecuadorian government, information will be released to the media next week, when the couple is scheduled to arrive in Quito. One of the few details that is known is that Milcawich’s parents are being flown down to Ecuador so they they can be with their daughter.
Seemingly, both the Ecuadorian and Canadian governments have released few details to the international or national media.
Despite the apparent news blackout, this incident tends to suggest that travelers unfamiliar with the genuine threats that exist in rural areas of developing countries often find themselves on a collision-course with calamity, which is why I consistently suggest that foreign visitors AVOID areas where there is little to no formal law enforcement, unless they are extremely well-prepared.
As I have said in previous postings, my book, STATING SAFE ABROAD, is a sound investment in avoiding Harm's Way, but my country-specific "Safe Foreign Travel" workshops, which can be presented anywhere, are essential for travelers who are destined for areas off the beaten track.