What's the quickest (legal) way to get money in a foreign country?

OK. I’m going to ask to draw on collective Doper wisdom on travelling abroad.

I arrived in Quito on Friday, at about 11:00. I had bought all the big, seriously important stuff (binoculars, camera with film, backpack, etc.) in the US and brought it with me. But some of the little, easy-to-get stuff (toiletries, socks, stuff like that) I planned on picking up in Quito. So, as soon as I got in, I decided to do a little shopping, picking up maybe some interesting-looking street food on the way.

Within 4 hours, my wallet had been stolen from my purse. I don’t know quite how it happened, since I had my hand on my purse the whole time while I was walking. But somehow, my wallet disappeared. I still have my passport, immunzation info, and tourist card, so this isn’t a total disaster. But my credit card, debit card, and ISIC (student ID card, also carries some nice other benefits) card are gone.

After many frantic phone calls, I got in touch with Visa International, which is going to issue me a new card and probably some emergency cash. But they can’t do that until they get a bunch of info from my credit union, which isn’t open until Monday.

That means that, from Friday night through at least mid-day Monday (and maybe not until Tuesday or Wednesday, which is when I’m supposed to be leaving Quito), I have no access to cash. None. The banks are closed, so I can’t even try to open a local account in Ecuador with an on-line transfer of money in my bank in the US. Several other people here in my hostel have been robbed–So far, I’ve met two people who’ve been pickpocketed, 2 who’ve been mugged, and one who’s lost a bunch of money from credit card fraud. Those guys are having the same problem I am. (Which makes for a real cheery mood around here, let me tell you.)

At this point, I’ve certainly gotten over the initial shock, but I’m still kind of stuck. And if Visa runs into any problems (and, this being Ecuador, I wouldn’t be suprised if things were delayed or messed up severely), I’ll be screwed. So I appeal to all of you for info–what’s the quickest way to get money when you’re overseas, if all your cards and such are gone? I’ve heard that the Embassy here will do emergency loans for US citizens who’ve been robbed, but they’re not open until Monday. And I know that asking someone to wire money would work OK, only the Western Union offices aren’t open on Sunday–even those offices that proudly advertise that they are.

Do you guys have any suggestions? THere are a lot of us here who are getting both hungry and nervous.

Hey Scribble,

Sorry, I don’t have any good advice for you. I hope you get the money situation straightened out, and the rest of your trip is a lot better. Does anyone in the hostel have any connections with any local people who might be able to at least give you a little food to tide you over until Monday?

You’re staying in a hotel, right? Try asking them for some cash and to put it on your bill.

Sorry that happened. I’m not that conversant with US consular affairs, but Canadian Embassies / Consulates around the world can and will front money (to Canadians, sorry again) if you meet certain conditions, such as having a police report, among others.

Maybe you could try the embassy?

Hey, everyone.

Thanks for your suggestions. I ended up getting money from my sister. She used Western Union to beam it to me here in Quito. Amazingly enough, she sent it today, and it arrived this evening. I picked it up and carried the cash to my hostel without incident.

Now I need to settle with Visa International when and how I’m going to get my card. Tomorrow morning, I head off for parts unkown–well, unknown to most mapmakers, at least–on the Rio Napo, past Misahualli. The nearest even semi-big town will be Tena, which will be something like (IIRC) a day’s journey by canoe and bus/guagua/combi away. Then, in a month, I’ll be back in Quito. (I can’t say I love Quito, but if you need to do business stuff–like get your Visa card handed to you personally–Quito is the place to be.) I’ll call Visa and make arrangements to get the card.

In the meantime, the money my sister sent me should be more than enough until I’m back somewhere with regular shops and working (or at least semi-working) electricity.

What kind of purse did you have? I’ve heard that it’s better to have the zippered kind- takes a few more seconds and dexterity for a theif to get in to.

Takes longer for a thief, too.