I’m aware that I have to be especially careful as a woman traveler. I want to explore the globe like anybody else, but I don’t underestimate those who believe I don’t have the right to do so in peace.
What I appreciate is that, on this trip, wherever there was danger, there also seemed to be an honest man nearby providing cover. And the decent guys we met far outnumbered the shady characters.
It happened with the Monkey Man and at the horse races. Friend and I have drastically different energy levels. So, while she was content to spend Saturday afternoon snoozing by the shore, I couldn’t stand to let a sunny midday pass without exploring, especially on such a short trip.
I went down the street for a chicken kabob wrap then headed a little further to the racetrack. I’m not naive enough to think I can blend in with the locals in any foreign country, so I generally just relax, stay lowkey, and do what everybody else does.
I sat next to a lady with a baby and chatted it up. A guy came by with pineapples and I bought a couple of bags. I took photos of the horses racing by and enjoyed the spectacle of people yelling and betting and leaping into the air as their horse took the lead.
Then the lady with the baby left and I was on the bench alone. Some guy walked by and asked me something about text messages – at least it sounded like that. I had no clue what he was saying but I felt an off vibe, shook my head and looked away.
He pointed to me and asked a few of the older gentlemen nearby something. They said something back and he walked away. Immediately after he left one of the older guys told me, “that guy’s trying to hustle you”.
“Okay, so I won’t buy what he’s selling”, I figured.
But the older guy went on to explain that the dude was asking if I was alone. They told him that I had friends who had gone to the concession stand.
“When he comes back”, the older man continued, “you need to be gone”.
Now, I’ve dealt with this kind of thing at home, too. I’ve been getting cat called and followed home by grown “men” since I was 12. Bums say stupid shit in subways. Hell, I was once a construction inspector. I’m used to men staring.
When I traveled to Chicago in 2019, some rando guy walked up on a busy street in broad daylight and just grabbed me. I yelled, shoved him and got ready to swing. He looked stunned! I dunno if he was crazy, a perv, or thought I was someone else.
It’s everywhere and you deal with it, but some battles ain’t worth fighting.
I raised my happy self off that bench and went back to the hotel. I had seen enough horse racing and I had no interest in taking a gamble. I appreciated those older men for looking out and figured I’d get the adventure I was seeking later that night when Friend would accompany me to the party scene.