There are a number of things that happened over the course of my year in Guyana that, for one reason or another, I chose not to share on this blog. Looking back on some of these significant events, I’m beginning to question why I didn’t share these experiences along with all of the other things I was experiencing. There are one or two that I specifically remember not wanting to write about on the internet, but some of the others may have just been pushed to the side for reasons related to time or an attempt to keep my writing PG.
A few weeks into my experience, I remember talking to a good friend of mine on the phone at one of Georgetown’s internet cafes. She told me she had been reading my blog and that she was surprised by what she was reading. “It can’t be all good, right?” she asked. She was right, at first, I think I was trying to paint a prettier picture than the one that actually existed, but now, I don’t see a reason as to why I should hold back. So, here’s a series of blogs that are overdue. They are the things I never told you about my year in Guyana…
Coming Clean: I Once Hit a Stranger on the Street Repeatedly With My Shoe
I think I decided against posting this blog entry because I didn’t want to scare my mother. I didn’t want her thinking that the street harassment had reached a dangerous level, because it hadn’t. This was an isolated incident. Here it is:
The flip-flops I had brought down to Guyana with me were not going to cut it by a long shot. I could tell that, within just a few days, they would be broken and I’d be without a cool pair of footwear to wear around our dirty-floored house and glass-covered streets of Georgetown. So, I bought a new pair of sandals for the American equivalent of $7.50. These sandals lasted me a few weeks, but then a hole was worn into the bottom of them which resulted in me having to go to the hospital just after Christmas to get a piece of glass cut out of my foot. I was on the hunt for yet another pair of sandals soon after this.
I went back to the same market, but not the same vendor, that I had purchased my old sandals from. This time, I found a pair with a strong looking rubber-esque bottom. I figured it was worth paying the extra $2.50 to ensure that I wouldn’t be trying to protect my feet from the streets of GT with duct tape again within a matter of weeks. And so, with two of my roommates, we began to wander home from the market, me carry my new, heftier footwear in my hands since I didn’t want to bother with a bag.
Since the three of us have white skin, we were attracting the usual attention that white people get in Guyana, but since we had now been in the country for months, we were thinking nothing of it. I was walking just a few steps ahead of my two female roommates when a homeless man (or “junkie” as they call them in Guyana) approached our group. He started by talking to one of the girls and she did her best to get around him by saying what she needed to say. This particular man was a little less understanding than most people on the street though. Instead of backing off and recognizing that our quickened pace was a sign that she was not interesting in interacting with him, he opted to start touching her, and wrapped his arms around her. Immediately, my other roommate started yelling, “NO, DON’T TOUCH HER!” as I turned around and started yelling at the man as well. Since he was failing to follow our very simple instructions (I suspect he was under the influence of alcohol or some other drug) I instinctively started tapping his arms with the shoes in my hand. When he didn’t let go, I started hitting him harder and harder. He didn’t let go until I was downright swatting him with my new sandals. Eventually, he loosened his grip on her and she was able to slip away with my other roommate.
I stood between the man and the girls as they moved further away and gave him specific instructions not to follow us. He didn’t listen, instead, he started advancing toward me. “Leave us alone,” I stated flatly, well aware that I was talking to a wall. He continued coming at me. I put my arm out in front of me and laid it directly on his chest and shoved him backwards as hard as I could using only one hand. His intoxicated state sent him tumbling back into the market. I turned and caught back up to the girls. He didn’t follow us. We haven’t seen him sense. He was just a drunk guy, interested in touching an attractive foreign girl. That was all.
What was nice about this experience was what was going on with the crowd in the market as they witnessed this small disaster. They didn’t approve of the situation, so, whoever was within shouting range started yelling at the man right along with us. In this country, I’ve noticed, people tend to have one another’s backs. I wrote about that the first week I was here. I’ll miss that sense of community that Guyana seems to have a little more of than America.
Reason this blog didn’t see the light of day until now: I didn’t want my mother to think I had to beat people on the streets the whole year I was here.