I travel alone and am very aware and avoid most situations. But…Not long ago I came to a place that should be safe. Really everywhere should be safe but reality shows us different.
My experience whispers in my ear not to trust anyone, to always be careful, people are bastards – and I choose not to listen.
Not out of ignorance or stubbornness, it’s that I refuse to live my life in fear because brutish, violent behaviour and intimidation are what thugs use to get what they want. And I don’t want to live in fear, I want to live in love, curiosity and light.
I Wasn’t Hurt But I Was
I want to say up straight I wasn’t hurt, not physically. I’m not small and even now I can confuse the bejeebers out of a would-be attacker to the point they decide that what they are planning is not really a smart idea.
Or most of the time, it’s not a theory I will purposefully put to the test but it gets employed whenever the tight spot is entered and I feel it would be a help. AND its not going to be as easy as they thought.
But it hurt my soul, robbed me of joy, the tears cascade endlessly in time with the rain as today it all crowded in. It explains why I feel safe – inside and not out right now.
Okay So What Happened
The beach nearby is one of the most beautiful in the continent, Africa is stunning and bring on the waves and the sea salt in my hair.
I just wanted chill, not to be bothered, just peace and gorgeous landscape. I misjudged how close I was staying to the water. Too far to walk, I hailed a tuk-tuk on the street as you do and contorted myself into the back seat. Very squeezy.
The hefty guy in the front asked where to, I said the beach and we were off.
It’s hard sometimes being alone and in a new place. It wasn’t so bad when I was younger, but as I become more physically vulnerable, sometimes the pit of my stomach takes residence in my throat causing my breath to quicken when I feel something is just off.
And it felt off.
To ease my unease, I chatted to driver, especially to gauge where his energy was. This one was a grunter. He seemed interested only in how much I would pay him, trying to bargain the fare up to an unreasonable rate, gruff and blunt with his words.
He told me his name; I wish I could remember it now. Sometimes it helps if you know their name.
Isolation is Not Always Your Friend
He turned down a road, more of an unmade track, nobody in sight. I could see the blue of the ocean up ahead in the not too far distance.
He got out when we stopped. Stood at my side of the vehicle, demanding money. I actually had none. He didn’t want the digital kind which is all most use here.
I got out, not feeling safe. My dismount was crude and undignified, I just don’t bend in the right places. I almost fell onto him he was so close.
I righted myself, he stood above me, I could smell the strong sweat of his hot day.
He told me I had money, I’m a foreigner. I explained again I could only pay with mpesa, but only a reasonable fare. He reached for me tried to grab my bag, he missed but hooked onto the wrist that was broke and still healing.
I let out a groan as pain shot up my arm. I looked at him, let me go I said. Then louder let me go.
He did after a last grab at the phone in my hand, and I moved away, enough so that I could breathe again. I looked around, where are all the people? Nobody. Not one body.
The Not So Great Escape
I had some Aussie money in my wallet, I gave him that. Much more than was owed. I understand poverty, and how hard it is. I have great empathy for people working in jobs that offer such a minimal return. But I can’t fix it for everyone, and this bully boy charade was just way too much.
The money distracted him enough so I had time to move away as quickly as this body can. I looked back he started to follow, I just kept moving towards the beach hoping someone would be there.
I spoke to him loudly, telling him he had his money, to leave me alone. I kept moving. Seeing sand. I kept talking to him, it confused him, maybe my accent.
The sand was under my feet, people in the not too far distance. I moved towards them. I looked back he was stopped in the bushes on the edge, then he was gone.
I realized I was shaking. I was mad, scared and alone.
Sound the Retreat
I stayed for a while, told myself it was okay. I made my way home, found a taxi to take me. It was nothing I thought, yet my life is filled with these nothings that add up to a huge something.
For days, over a week I told myself it was okay. But today it sneaked up. My soul had tried to tell me I was not okay, that resting inside was okay, too much work to go out and hail another tuk-tuk to go to the beach……
I am tired of being a target because I am alone, because I am a woman, because I exist. I dream of a better world where these funkers no longer think this abusive behaviour is okay and understand the consequence of their abhorrence.
Today it rained from my eyes instead of the sky, and I hope it will stop. Now I have to deal with it, and that’s not fair. It’s the last thing I need. All I wanted to do was a ride to the beach instead, I got a ride to a place of fear.