Oh what a charmer…

I had a bit of a realisation today. And what brought about this realisation today was a guy in the centro shouting at me, as I was walking to get my bus home – “let me see your titties baby”. I couldn’t believe it, despite the fact that I get things shouted at me literally every single time I walk anywhere in the centro. And I usually walk from the bus to my project, to and from somewhere at lunch and then back to my bus home. So that’s at least 20 times a week I have guys shouting at me,  so I would say I’m pretty used to it by now. However this guy took me completely by surprise. It was just such a disgusting thing to say. And in English. Does he speak English or had he just learnt the most vulgar cat calls he could find?? I think I literally froze where I was stood for a couple of seconds… I didn’t even see him, I just heard him shout at me from my right somewhere. And if it had been in the UK I would have loved to have gone and told him what I thought of him, but of course I can’t do that here, so I had to force myself to carry on while still reeling from being verbally abused in the street by a stranger. I suspect guys reading this will say ‘verbally abused’ is too strong but I don’t think it is. It’s disgusting and it makes me feel victimised and vulnerable in a place like Tegus. But anyway, that isn’t the point I’m making (if it was I would direct you to the website http://www.everydaysexism.com/ which I think is an amazing idea), the reason why this particular incident bothered me was a bit more complicated than that…

As I sat on the bus home afterwards, still recovering from shock, and looking out of the window at the markets of Comayaguela – it became more apparent to me than ever how out of place I am here. I suddenly realised that if I did want to stay and live in somewhere like Honduras (which is definitely tempting for me), then I would always be the outsider. However long I lived here for, however well I learnt Spanish and built up a life here, I would still be made to feel like I was different and didn’t belong. People will always double take me when they see me here (the white skin, the blonde hair and, yes guy from today, the big boobs)  and I will always have insulting things shouted at me when I am just trying to get home. When you live somewhere and want to move there permanently, you want to become part of the community and part of the every day life in that place. But I would never have that to look forward to. If I did live here permanently, and especially if I worked in the centro, I would always be singled out every day. And really, why would I want that? Who would choose to be treated like that? I sincerely hope that one day, somehow, this will change about this part of Honduran culture and men on the street will just let a white girl past…

It has truly annoyed me that this one man has made me feel like this and, to some extent, made me question my potential desire to stay here for a more long term period. But of course, it is not all bad to look a little bit different. I was waiting at the bus stop the other day and got chatting to a woman from Honduras who had been living in the US for 20 years so was visiting her friends for a few weeks. We chatted all the way on the bus and she even paid my bus fair; things like that make me feel really welcomed in Honduras and grateful to the majority of the people here. It’s just a shame that the men, or the majority of them, want to make me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. I know we have huge issues of xenophobic attitudes in Europe and the US, but really, it is nothing compared to here. Which is quite possibly because there are so few people here from somewhere different so the country just isn’t used to it, but they are sure making it hard to welcome others in. Something to think about Honduras? 

Honduran men

This post might turn into a bit of a rant. 

I love it here, I don’t want however annoyed I may sound in this post to make anyone think I don’t love it here because I do. But seriously, the men here are driving me crazy. I’m not talking about all of them of course and I really don’t mean to offend anyone – if I mention something anyone has done here then please don’t be offended. But all of it added up together makes for a bad impression on Honduras and it’s men. 

First of all, I have daily harassment from men on the street. Strangers. My first week starting at my project was when I first started walking alone (as the first two weeks all of the volunteers went everywhere together) and I would have comments thrown at me constantly… and I mean CONSTANTLY. I would arrive to my project and home feeling beaten down to be honest. When the men at my project are walking with me somewhere and hear a comment (which are a lot more rare as soon as I’m with another guy) they find it funny and make a joke out of it – and sometimes it is funny but when it it so constant it becomes depressing. Especially when I walk past certain a place and you know the same person will say something because he says something every day so you’re just waiting for it and they never fail to see something horrible to you. There is a guy who is always just outside just by my house so I literally have comments from the second I leave home in the morning. And there is nothing I can do about it.

So this is annoying enough. But it’s not just strange men that find it acceptable to act this way towards me, the men at my project also seem to think it’s ok to approach me (even though they all have wives and children). At first it was just a little bit (and one very weird incident) but for some reason recently the men have taken it to the next level. But they are all also my friends so it makes it difficult to know whether it is an issue or not. But lately every time I talk to one of the guys, all the others insist that he is my novio (boyfriend). I have had two of the men ask me to kiss them (one of them doesn’t wait for an answer and I literally have to push him off me) and one of them I thought of as a very good friend before but now I’m getting more and more annoyed with it all. When I point out that they’re married they joke that their wives are dead. To add to the stress of it, they often say things to each other in Spanish and obviously I don’t understand a lot of it and then they all laugh and it doesn’t feel nice. 

Even guys who I socialise with act strangely – I had met one guy twice (both times I was quite tipsy as we were at a bar) and we had messaged a little on facebook. He doesn’t speak much English and I don’t speak too much Spanish so it is difficult for us to talk properly. The third time I met him he said that it was his birthday soon and he wanted me to stay with him in a hotel after the night out. And that we could start something here and then he would come to Europe after I left to see me. Have Hondurans never heard of wooing a girl, maybe even taking her on a date first before propositioning her?? Clearly not. 

It is very frustrating to feel like the men here don’t see you as someone to be friends with, they see you as an object to get into bed or to look at and say vulgar things to. It is really hard for me as I have really good male friends at home and I miss having that here (although I love my girl friends of course!) but it is sad not to be able to just have a friendship with a guy. The guy at my project who I absolutely adored and loved talking to every day is now becoming a big annoyance as I have to explain to him every day that I’m not going to kiss him because he has a wife and 2 children (he is 23). Sigh. I was really annoyed about it all today and told one of the girls there (she is there volunteering for 2 months so she doesn’t know anyone else that well) she said that when a girl in Honduras talks about drinking beers and going out it gives the impression that she is easy. So no more talking about my social life at work then. 

To cheer me up though it has been a lot of fun emailing my amazing friend Glenn the last couple of days and exchanging some ridiculous banter! You don’t realise how much you miss people until you speak to them and realise how much fun you have together. So thank you Glenn 🙂 

Also today I realised that maybe I am far too predictable. Laura, Brynja and I went to Mall Multiplaza today (as usual) and I went to Wendys (as usual) and without asking the waitress gave me mayo as I always ask for it. Slightly embarrassing. Then when we went to get taxis the guy who organises the radio taxi said where I live without me even having to tell him… I think maybe it’s time to shake it up a bit! 

So that’s all for now… I’m hoping the situation with the guys will get better by itself soon because I do love them all as friends and I really don’t want to have to end up complaining! But when you have to avoid going into empty rooms in case one of your colleagues might pounce on you, you know it’s not good!!