...it becomes somewhat hard. No, not TWSS. Seriously. I don't know if that happens to everyone, or if it's just me, I haven't talked to many other solo travelers about it. Most of the people in my circle of friends either travel with someone or are CSers like me. We CSers don't often stay in hostels or hotels or guest houses, why should we when there's CouchSurfing.
Thing is, I knew that after traveling with a group and sharing a room with people for over two weeks (Or two weeks exactly? Or less? I have no idea...) I'd want to have a few days to myself and I wouldn't be a good surfer, so I didn't even try to find a couch in St. Lucia and booked that guesthouse right away. Then for Barbados I couldn't find a couch. Or rather, I had one but the lady got offered a trip at the same time I was going to be there so that fell through. And then she got a friend of hers to host me, but I didn't find out until it was too late and I'd already booked a guest house room - with a non-refundable down payment. Ugh.
So why is that a problem? After all, I did write that the guest house was very nice, close to the beach and that I even met somebody who was also staying there and thus had somebody to hang out with. Well, a few things combined into a big fat ball of poop again. (You already know that I'm OK, though, because I wrote "poop".)
Turns out, that guy I had dinner with that evening was a crazy creep. Don't laugh here. I'm not talking about "Haha, you're so creepy LOL". I am talking about somebody sitting on the balcony for hours because from there you could see the door to my room and know when I came out or went back in. I am talking about him walking up and down the beach to see if he could find me there. I am talking about that guy standing in front of my room door saying my name over and over and knocking until I opened, or for quite a while when I didn't.How do I know this? Because I saw him sitting there on the balcony when I left my room or went back in - not doing anything (no book, no magazine, no laptop, no newspaper, no nothing). Because he told me that he had walked up and down the beach looking for me because he thought I'd be there. Because I actually was in the room when he called and knocked. Why didn't I just open the door and talk to him and hang out? Seriously? OK, maybe you think I overreacted. Maybe I did. But I don't think so. The day before I left I hadn't seen him all day and he'd told me the first evening that his brother was coming to the island, so I thought (hoped, really) that maybe he'd switched guest houses to stay somewhere else with his brother. Only, it wasn't so. I was asleep when I heard my name again. Then the knocking. After a while it stopped, I looked at my phone to check the time: it was 3.30AM. That was when uncomfortable turned into scared. I did not go back to sleep for quite a while that night. At least not until I'd checked the lock on my door for the third time. This is not easy to write.
Now, I guess at least some of you will understand why that completely ruined my stay in Barbados. Others will think I'm the crazy one. I can only say that it's unbelievable (so I understand your doubts) how bad that guy made me feel. About the guest house, about Barbados, about myself. I couldn't go to the beach anymore, because what if he was around there again looking for me? It actually got to a point where I was really nervous even to leave my room, because I didn't know if he would be sitting out there. When I did leave to go into Bridgetown or to go shopping or to just walk around and be away from the guest house, I still couldn't enjoy the place, because I was constantly on edge.
Oh Isa, he was just being nice, maybe he liked you. Somebody said that. But no, there's nice and then there's that guy. And even if he liked me (the thought makes me shudder) I did not, in any way whatsoever, lead him on. At all. Not at any point in time. What's more, after I noticed how weird he was the morning after we had dinner, I stopped talking to him. I didn't greet him unless he greeted me, I answered in single syllables and didn't encourage conversation or any other kind of interaction. Everything about me screamed Go Away, apart from my actual words, I guess. But anybody with any kind of common sense or simply eyes and ears would have walked away.
Why didn't I change hotels? Because the place was paid for and it was already the only one I could really afford, I've been traveling for two months after all. Why didn't I confront him and tell him to stop it? Honestly, because I was scared. I've never met anyone like that before, how am I to know how he's going to react? And he was staying across the hall from me, don't forget that.
Maybe I shouldn't have shared this, I've actually thought long and hard about it. That's the main reason it's taken me so long to write again since the last entry. I definitely would have had enough time, what with not being able to leave my room. Exaggerating when I say "not being able to leave"? I don't care, that's how I felt, deal with it. So yeah, maybe this isn't something that should have gone on the blog. But then I thought, maybe it should. As always, I want to be honest and talk about what's going on ontheway, this was part of it. But more than that, I wanted to share this experience for two reasons:
1) What if it happens to some other girl traveling by herself? She might benefit from my story. I know I'd love to know if this has happened to somebody else, to feel less alone. And less stupid... because this is the truth of it, I feel stupid. Now matter how horrible that experience was for me, no matter how much I think about it and turn it over in my head to see if I overreacted or maybe it was my fault, maybe it was called for. It wasn't, I know that. But I still feel stupid.
2) I want to know what you would have done in my place. I want opinions. I want advice.
So, please, tell me how you would have handled this situation if you were me. I did tell him to stop. Too late, but before that I wouldn't have dared say anything so I hid instead. The last day, before leaving, I was sitting in my room with my laptop and my books. I was done packing and would have liked to take all my things downstairs and wait in the common room/lobby until it was time to call a taxi and leave, because the girl at the front desk was really nice and I would have liked to chat with her. But I didn't, because I didn't know if that guy would be there again - especially after that 3.30AM thing he pulled. He knocked on my door again around 9.30AM that morning and I just got so angry, so mad that I actually did open the door and I asked what his problem was and I told him to go away, to leave me alone, to stop talking to me and calling my name and knocking on my door. That took all the strength I had in me. When I closed my door again I was shaking.
For those who still don't believe that I was right to be alarmed, after that he stood outside my door for a while singing about how I was weird. Singing.
Again, maybe I shouldn't have shared this, because it's extremely personal and it's a lot heavier than what you usually get when I say I'm having a bad day. I'm sorry for that. But I really do hope that you will share your thoughts on this with me.
That was only one thing though (like it wasn't enough) so where's the big fat ball of poop? Well, combine that with the feeling of alone-ness (I don't want to write loneliness.) one gets after traveling by themselves for two months. And I was supposed to go to a nice little party thing at the place of the surfer that would have hosted me if I hadn't already made guest house arrangements. But. Of course, there has to be a but for this blog entry to make sense. I went into Bridgetown, because from there I was to take another bus to her place, but I never found that bus. Don't go political on me for what I am about to say, but: The racism in Bridgetown was even worse than in Castries. To a point where (because I was already weakened from the other thing that was going on) I wanted to just start crying in the middle of the street. I didn't. I did turn around and go back to my room, though.
So yeah, that's why I feel like towards the end of a long trip it becomes harder with every day. Of course, if that thing hadn't happened, everything would have been different. So different! I would have gone to the beach every day, read my book on the balcony and sat in the common room/lobby chatting with the girl from the front desk in the afternoons. I would have felt more confident and walking around Bridgetown and finding that bus wouldn't have been a problem.
This is something you have to consider when you're going to travel by yourself for a longer period of time. You get tired and you will feel alone, especially when you're tired. So do CouchSurfing. You will still get tired, but you will most likely not feel alone. I'm already off Barbados, I'm in Kingston right now. At a CouchSurfer's place. Really nice guy, very welcoming and fun and, yeah, just nice. All better.
There will be a separate post about Barbados and a few things about St. Lawrence Gap and Bridgetown. I don't want Barbados to look bad because of that guy, but I had to share that story, so I will talk about the place itself separately. In the meantime, talk to me. Tell me what you think.
Most importantly though, don't let my experience scare you out of traveling by yourself as a girl or woman. I won't stop going places by myself. I won't stop talking to people. I won't stop trying new things hoping to learn and grow. You shouldn't either.