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.