Monday, June 4, 2012


Most people know I do not scare easily. On Sunday morning I was scared. I wanted to catch the sunrise over Lago Atitan so I set my alarm for 4.30a. In my mind, I had evaluated how safe it would be to walk alone in the dark at that time of day. The street leading to the lake is a main thoroughfare with streetlights. I thought this part of the walk would be safe, with party-goers stumbling home. The access road to the pier/beach was what I was worried about – dark, quiet, secluded. No shops or houses to hear cries for help. I thought I would walk down the main road and wait at the last intersection, under bright lights, until there was some daylight before making my way to the lakeshore. I made sure not to carry my wallet and any valuables, just some loose change. 
4.30am in the morning

On the way, a man with a dog approached me, clearly asking for sex. I made it VERY clear that my answer was NO! and the man, with his dog, seemed to go away. As I got closer to the intersection where I planned on waiting, the same man followed me. He had a friend with him. Despite walking fast, he caught up to me with a jog and became more persistent, trying to touch me. I was not worried about the dog for some reason, even though it was a Rottweiler. It was the man I was very afraid of. I pushed him away, yelled out “No, no, no, Help! Socorro! Socorro!” I kept yelling until the man’s partner called him off. I rushed to the nearest lit spot with people that was open – not easy before 5am in a country where everything is locked up. Fortunately, I saw a small private bus waiting outside a hotel that had its lights on. Some guests were taking an early shuttle ride somewhere. I rushed in, sat on a small sofa and told the night attendant my story and asked if I could wait there until it was fully light outside. I didn’t know how to say “assaulted” in Spanish but he understood what I meant. He was very kind. It turns out the verb “to assault” is “asaltar” – one word I am not going to forget. At around 5.45am it was bright enough and there were enough people (specifically women) out that I felt it was safe to leave the hotel. A stray dog decided to take a liking to me and followed me, wanting to play and be petted. Normally I don’t mind this at all (dogs like me) but at this point I was bloody sick of being followed by anything, animal or man.
The hotel where I sought refuge

I have never been assaulted before. I’ve never been touched in a harmful way by a dangerous stranger. I found the whole episode quite distressing and shed a tear or two. I didn’t want to let the asshole ruin my day, but the whole incident definitely dampened my Sunday. I decided I really didn’t fell like taking a boat ride across the lake and spent the day in Panajachel instead, eating and drinking coffee. A warm piece of bread does wonders for the soul. I visited the lake again, but standing by the lake and getting accosted by guys was no fun. It sounds arrogant/sexist, but I am fucking sick of men right now. I’m tired of traveling and dealing with harmless annoying American students and worrying about being assaulted again. Lago Atitlan was a decent sight, a very large lake ringed by volcanoes but it really didn’t blow me away or even impress me. Hopefully Tikal next weekend will change my mind.
Took my chance with ice from outside because the alternative was room temperature Coke, which I really did not want. Fingers crossed, no accidents, especially since my uterus is weeping right now. Can you tell?

1 comment:

  1. This is terrible, Wendy -- maybe if you do decide that a change of venue is in order, it will help somewhat. Though I'm sure the cultural situation (regarding treatment of women) will persist. :(