Sunday, March 19, 2006

Missing backpackers in South America

Last week, I received a random, desperate email from Rebecca Dean, a friend of Jenny Pope who is missing in Ecuador:

Hi Marissa

Sorry to trouble you, noticed that you had recommended the hotel
Maria on your weblog. I am a friend of the above who has disappeared
she was last heard from when she was staying at the Princesa Maria on
9th Jan this year. I know that this is a long shot but when you were
did you happen to notice a guy called Pancho who works at the hostel.
Apparently he had an interaction with Jenny and has not been seen
Any information no matter how small could help us. Please see for more info or contact me at
or if you think you could advise us in any way.

Thanks for your time

While disappearances are rare, it still has an impact on the travelling community. The email made me think quite a bit. Unfortunately, I couldn't help because I had stayed at the Princessa Maria in 2004 and had not encountered a guy named Pancho. However, I just wanted to get the word out on two instances of missing backpackers. Because..well, you never know if someone may have met them or know something...

1. Jenny Pope - missing since about Jan 9, 2006 - last seen in Banos, Ecuador.
For more information, visit Jenny Pope Appeal

2. Katharina Koller and Peter Kirsten Rabitsch - missing since about Jan 24, 2006 - last seen in Copacabana, Bolivia. Kidnapped by a gang of organized criminals who pretended to be policemen.
For more information, visit Katharin and

If you read Katharina and, it's pretty scary shit. I feel more than fortunate that I have never been in a situation like that. I have been in some bad situations, but they could have turned out much worse.

I remember taking the bus from Copacabana to La Paz. It drops you off in the middle of nowhere, and cabs are waiting there. I had a bad encounter with a taxi driver there. And as well, another lady got in the car, which I didn't really agree with..but thought, whatever. She later got out some point down the road. But long story short, the cabbie tried to assault me. I would have ditched everything I owned and jumped out of a moving cab had he been taking me to the wrong place. It was scary. Hell, it was awful. But it could have been worse. Well, maybe the lady could have been a fake tourist. Maybe I could have fallen victim to that same scam had I not looked so native and spoken Spanish. Who knows.

My heart goes out to the Jenny, Katharin, Peter, and their families. I hope for their safe returns.


Anonymous mieke said...

My heart goes out to them too, Marisa.
Especially now that it's for a fact that Peter and Katharina will never be seen back alive anymore.

The latest update there is only in German still, at present. But the English translation is underway.
Their bodies were discovered in La Paz last night.

link to La Razón

9:59 AM  
Blogger marisa said...

unbelievable. my heart goes out to their families. I'm still reeling in shock... :(

10:51 PM  

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