works in London as an advertising copywriter, but she takes every
opportunity she can to travel. This story was submitted to Journeywoman
after an eventful and 'lesson - learning' five month trip through
South America. Since Julia's hoping that other women will learn
from her mistakes, she writes...
On my last
night in Piura, Peru (very close to the border between Peru and Ecuador)
, I sat in a small bus station reading my paperback, "Sophie's
Choice." With my tired body sprawled on the hard chair like a
soggy red pepper, I glanced up periodically to check on my horde of
possessions piled against the wall. Vendors of goods (useless to an
independent traveler) repeatedly strolled by me, interrupting my concentration.
"A toilet plunger, senorita?" "Perhaps a squeegee?"
waiting passengers, the number of which ebbed and mounted
with each departing bus, sat watching the station's TV screen.
Since I had been travelling for almost 24-hours without much
sleep, reading was the only thing keeping me awake. Thankfully,
I was at a good part -- I couldn't even hear the vendors,
the song of melodramatic acting, the screaming ticket salesmen,
felt a light touch on my shoulder. Turning around,
I saw an older mestizo man wearing glasses, dressed in a crisp
white shirt and dark trousers. Bushy, graying eyebrows shaded
his dark eyes. He appeared harmless, almost kind, but as a
woman travelling alone, I immediately suspected his motives.
Did he just want to touch me? Would he try to touch me again?
his every movement, I watched him place his hand on the back
of my seat and, with arthritic slowness, bend towards the
ground. I warily returned to my book.
at him again. In his sun-worn hand, he held a shiny coin.
"Is this yours?" he asked me.
thought. He was just picking up the coin. No, I shook my head
and smiled with relief. The man stood up and started shuffling
away. Feeling badly for suspecting him of sexual indecency,
I said cheerfully, "It's yours now".
he said, "I'm sorry?"
yours now", I repeated.
A faint smile hovering
at the corner of his lips, he nodded at me and left the station.
later I got thirsty which is when I realized my daypack was