Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day #6 - Fears

Just as travel can be fun and exciting, it can also have its challenging, or even downright scary, moments. Being in a new place pushes us out of our comfort zone and makes us face our fears. Tell about a time you had to face your fear when traveling, and what was the result.

I have a few for this one. They have varied types of discomfort, and varied lessons/rewards to go with them. They're not really in a particular order.

1. Creepy Cabbie in Cairo
Something I knew going to Cairo is that cabbies are not always the safest way to get home after a night out like they are in the West. But sometimes you don't have another option. My first experience with the expectations some (please don't take this to mean all, I met many nice Egyptian men) Egyptian men have for white women, especially at night. Everything turned out fine and it could have been much worse, but I didn't take a cab by myself for months, even in the daylight. 
I learned about myself and about my surroundings, and I told people about it and I hopefully helped some of them avoid having something worse happen to them.

2. Being followed in Marrakech
This one is a pretty normal fear, that exists for pretty much everyone pretty much everywhere, especially white women wandering by themselves. And this was in broad daylight. I'd decided that I wanted to explore a bit outside the regular souq. I was a bit lost, but nothing irreparable. I was a somewhat flustered, though. Then a man approached me and grabbed my butt. I pushed him. He stayed walking next to me. I sped up. He did, too. I turned a corner. So did he. I turned around to face him and ran back past him, toward the small souq I had recently passed. He thought it'd be a better idea to not follow.
I was really proud of myself after that. I was by myself in a somewhat secluded place where I only spoke a bit of the local language. And I handled myself pretty well.

3. Not speaking the language in Istanbul
My first experience traveling to a country where I didn't speak the language AT ALL was this winter in Istanbul. This was certainly a smaller fear than the others I've mentioned, but nonetheless an issue. I was supposed to be meeting a friend at a hostel, but I was running late as I had narrowly avoided losing my debit card. I couldn't find this hostel anywhere. It was much colder in January in Istanbul than Cairo, where I had come from. I had a giant pack full of all my stuff for 3 weeks. Eventually an English-speaking man came to my rescue.
On a side note, this man was awesome. He surely knew that I was alone in a foreign city where I didn't speak the language as it was getting dark. He never entered my personal space (a Western concept, something Turks are prone to ignore), he led me from a nice distance, making nice conversation but never asking intrusive questions. It was just what I needed. Thank you English-speaking Turk man (to go with the kindness fo the previous post).

4. Being robbed and alone in Madrid
See my previous two posts on mistakes and the kindness of strangers.

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