January 29, 2020, around 11 in the evening, I had the scariest experience of my life.
After dinner, I decided to head back accommodation since I am not feeling well. My friends stayed to have more drinks. The majority of Palomino’s streets are pitch black. No light posts. My only source of light is my phone’s flashlight. This isn’t the first time I walk at night and in the dark. I’ve been traveling alone for the past three years, and I never let myself entertain negative thoughts, or else I will always be afraid to do things. Besides, none that I heard of about Palomino is bad, not until this night. I was alone walking in the dark street while a motorbike is passing by then stopped. A guy at the back of the motorcycle suddenly spoke and said, “Amiga, que hora es?” (My friend, what time is it?) while he was getting out of the motorbike. The motorbike left. Followed by, “¿Donde estas durmiendo? Muéstrame.” (Where are you sleeping? Show me.)
My heart was pounding fast. I continued walking fast, put my phone in my front pocket, flashlight sticking out so I can still see my path. The drunk guy runs after me and then overtake. Keep saying, “Que hora es, Amiga?” I just said, “alas once y media,” hoping he will leave me alone but no. He kept saying, “Donde estas durmiendo. Donde estas durmiendo.” I kept moving fast, but he never leaves me alone. And I said, “Stop following me!” He kept murmuring words in Spanish that I don’t understand anymore. Suddenly, he said, “Mira” (Look) as he grabbed both of my hands, trying to bring me back to the darkest area of the road. I shouted, “NO!” I let go of my hands as strong as I can and run. He said, “SSSSSHHHHH,” and he runs away fast worried that people will hear. I’m in total shock and cry while running for my safety.
For sure most of you would say, why the hell are you even walking alone at night? Girls shouldn’t be out late blah blah blah.
That’s not even the question. The question is why these people who have nothing else to do but to cause harm to others are even born!
I grew up in a family where my father showed me that men should protect and respect women. A family where men always make sure that women get home safe and check on us if we are okay. He showed us that when he is there, we have nothing to be worried about, and we are safe. When he is not around, he never misses checking on us. Sadly, not everyone is like my dad. Not everyone is a good man. Unfortunately, gentlemen are becoming less and less, and this is a sad reality.
I’m writing this with the realization that the world will never be safe as long as people let their demons prevail. Also, this is not even talking about whether you are in a place or country labeled as one of the most dangerous. Rapists can be anywhere in this world.
“I dream of a world when it’s finally unthinkable that it is the fault of the victim to be preyed on.”
And to us women, we have no choice but to take care and protect our own selves in this cruel world. Sadly, we are the ones who always have to adjust. No matter how we try to spread the words that women should be able to do anything, any time, any day, the reality is, we will always have limitations. Unfortunately, our world will never be as free as men.
To my female traveling friends, especially those who are traveling alone, stay safe. This is not to discourage girls from going out there and travel. The world is never safe anyway, so go on, do your thing, but always be cautious – this is the best we can do. Now I never go out without a pointy pen and a pepper spray.
I dream of a world when it’s finally unthinkable that it is the fault of the victim to be preyed on. A world where one hears a story like this, and not a single word is said about what the victim should have or not have done. Maybe not in this lifetime, but at least I hope not in another millennium. To all women who experienced the same ordeal. I admire your bravery, and I’m glad you were able to get away too. Safe travels.