“Hola, bonita!” I hear as I zoom past on my bike.
“ ‘Hola bonita’ yourself,” I retort into the wind.
In India, we called it “Eve teasing”, and while I don’t think there’s a specific name for it here, one thing I’ve learned from both my recent overseas experiences is sometimes guys are gonna say stuff, and you just gotta let whistles and unwelcome comments roll off your back. I could try to defend myself, but there really isn’t any point; it’s not going to change their perspective, and I’d only be inserting myself into a less-than-ideal situation. Much easier to simply let it go and move on.
This is usually pretty easy, and it’s one of the only areas where I actually appreciate not knowing the language. While I can usually tell he’s talking about me, I’m not offended by whatever he says, since I can’t understand him!
And even if I do understand, I choose to laugh it off. I’m living in a tropical country, so I’m usually red-in-the-face from heat, and my curly hair has successfully discovered how to defy gravity (humidity is not my best friend). I know I’m not always looking my best, and so I find it funny to hear propositions as I pass by. Call it a funky survival method. I’m also pretty careful about keeping interactions with men (especially those around my age) to the minimum and always in groups; I don’t want to give off any wrong impressions.
This afternoon, I was invited across the language barrier, and I got a little peek into the world around me. I had just finished lunch with the Keoghs. Our 5-days without electricity caused us to eat up any perishable food in the house, so we chose to eat out and then stop by the market to re-stock. So as we’re leaving the little restaurant, a Miskito man, maybe in his late 20’s, calls out something to Tom. They go back and forth for quite some time, and I, not understanding anything they’re saying, try to stay in the background and not draw any unwanted attention to myself. However, I soon notice they keep repeating the same words. I finally ask Tom, “What is he saying?” and he gives me the condensed version of the conversation, which went something like this:
Man: “Hey! Give me your daughter; I’m going to marry her.”
Tom: “I can’t.”
Man: “Why not? I want to marry her.”
Tom: “She’s not my daughter, and I don’t own her. She’s not mine to give.”
Needless to say, I was a little embarrassed. But what could I do? Nothing. So I got on my bike, and rode home.
This isn’t an everyday occurrence; more often than not, I will simply receive a lighthearted, “Aisabe” in response to my greeting as a pass by a young man. But, there are days like this. A bit embarrassing, a little awkward, but also pretty funny. Oh, Waspam….