Disclaimer: this week’s posts will be dedicated to the experience of being a woman in celebration of the International Women’s Day. I have had surge of inspiration (as I always do with issues close to my heart) and have a few more posts planned for this week than usual. Hope you enjoy!
The year was 2019. It was a cold January weekend in London. I was feeling blue, sitting at home, drinking some hot minted cocoa, a Christmas gift from a friend. I was thinking about my travel plans for the year. I had been travelling through Europe for a while, but I wanted more for 2019. I had been obsessing over Mexico for a while. It was a cheap and extremely interesting country. Started researching it and thinking to myself whether that was something I could even consider. Was it safe for me, as a woman, traveling alone in Mexico? This is the country so often portrayed in the media and entertainment industry as unsafe, the land of drug cartels, of violence, kidnapping, an extremely sexist society. A land where rape and violence against woman is so common. And no, I didn’t want to go to one of those beachside resorts in Cancun or Tulum (I found out with my research that contrary to what you may believe, these are often the less safe places to stay in…). I really wanted to travel through Mexico and dive in its culture.
I did my research and I booked the flights. After I had the receipt, there was no turning back. I was doing it. And oh boy. I felt adrenaline rushing through my veins for the next two weeks.
My mum, of course, did not like the idea at all (barely spoke to me for 2 weeks, after I announced it in a video call…) My coworkers became extremely concerned about my mental health, my boss probably thinking about recruiting a replacement. My close friends made me promise I would text them every day at a certain hour to ensure I was safe. “You’re a tall, white woman. You’ll be alone. You’ll stand out. Attract unwanted attention”. Well, so what? This is something I have been dealing with all my adult life, regardless the country I’m on!
I was trying to ignore this. I really had made my research. I knew exactly where I was going to stay, which routes to take, how to be safe. I was in multiple Facebook travel groups (mostly focused on women) and 99.5% of the experiences were very positive. But the 0.5% negative experiences I saw were enough to make my heart jump and believe what everyone else was saying around me – I was going on a suicide mission. I was going to be kidnapped by some sort of gang, while sleeping in my hotel. In a nutshell, I was being stupid, silly woman.
And then, I felt angry. Furious. I was enraged that I had to go through all of this research, just because I was a woman. That I had to research every single detail on what kind of transportation to use within Mexico, the schedules, dangerous areas, which neighborhoods are safer to stay in. To read all reviews about the different accommodation I was booking in Booking.com, paying more attention to the reviews written by fellow women travellers. And this rage gave me the strength to shut up those voices, to believe that I hadn’t made a mistake when I booked my flights and I was not crazy. I was simply pursuing what my heart told me. And, as a woman, we do learn to listen to our inner instincts.
My instincts told me I was good to go. That bad things can happen anywhere. Even in London, where I was living in. Catcalling, groping, stalking. All of these things I have had to face and deal with anywhere. Unfortunately, that is the kind of thing women have to deal with. And if you’re unlucky, you just need to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As you can easily see, I’m still well and alive. My trip to Mexico was absolutely amazing, and I never felt in danger. Nothing happened. Most times I felt safe. There was the catcalling, the kind of thing I would just roll my eyes at and ignore, while burning in rage inside. But the incidents were so small in comparison to the rewarding experience that is was for explore such amazing country.
And after this was done, I really felt I could do anything. Go anywhere. Even if this is sort of delusional, it can be a healthy one. One more thing I’d like to make clear – travelling is more challenging for women, but I’m on the lucky side, enjoying a little of the white privileged. I’m perfectly, and painfully aware of that.
I would love to hear your experiences – did you ever felt anxious about a trip? Was your gender part of the issue? Both female and male perspectives are, of course, welcoming!
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