A woman traveling solo
Just having my fourth weird guy experience, I thought I would share. This does not include the typical Spaniard doing everything he can to catch your eye behind his girlfriend's back at a cafe or bar, which I was told is cultural and understood by both sexes that it happens. (Accepted or not, this is inexcusable from an American woman's perspective). Not sure what it is about these European men that they sincerely expect that, despite the fact that you've never seen them before and can barely communicate the most basic of understandings and it is the middle of the afternoon when you were doing your own thing, that they expect you are going to just halt everything and have sex with them. And they are very persistent in trying to convince you that it must and should be this way. Very hard to shake off. This is the third time this has happened to me. (The fourth experience I will get to later as it was a bit different.)
The first time I was picnicking along the river across from the walls surrounding Avignon when a French man looking very much like Inspector Clouseau (slick black hair, signature mustache, polyester leisure suit in the hot sun) laid down beside my blanket on the grass and inquired whether I could love. I responded that I wasn't sure, but it was probably immaterial to what he had in mind.
He did not understand me of course and picked up the pen next to my journal and wrote, "Can you make love?" I laughed at him and told him that I was not interested. And so, he proceeded with hand motions to show me how this enterprise would be conducted. Though I spent the entire time laughing in his face, he was far from becoming discouraged, so before he could reach the genitalia part, I told him that this was not a good time, but I would meet him back there at seven. He was content with that and left me.
The second time was even creepier. In Barcelona, I had evidently gone the wrong direction on the metro and was pretty confused about how that happened and why the stop I was looking for was not even on the map of the other direction. Some of the maps don't show all of the stops. En route to a more specific map was the information window, so I stopped to ensure. The little greasy man behind the window simply pretended to not understand me. You will find these lazy creeps here and there and it is always transparent that they are simply being impudent. I wandered around the corner to find a larger map which I was studying when that same man came up behind me, it having evidently occurred to him that I wasn't bad prey after all, and he turned on his ever-so-helpful charm.
"Come this way," he said. I thought as he unlocked the black door that perhaps since I had gone the wrong way he was taking me through the exit to avoid paying again as I would need to through the turnstile, but no, he said he had to stop in the bathroom. I could see the urinals. Did I want to come too? I actually did have to pee pretty badly, but it did not seem like the best of ideas, so I bolted.
Today was the third time. I was hiking up the gorge in Ronda. It's a pretty famous gorge, a UNESCO world heritage site I think, so it's not exactly off the beaten path where you shouldn't wander alone... as you can be fairly certain that a tourist is going to come around the bend at any moment. And it was a lovely Saturday, a bit on the hot side, but there being a festival in town, the weather had not discouraged throngs of people from besieging Ronda...and that population was on top of the entire town wandering about bedecked in their traditional costumes.
There were also about twenty rock-climbers in the area. Still, this guy, large and in rather unbecoming spandex shorts, had no trepidation about stopping me to request having sex then and there on a rock ledge. I laughed and said no. Still, it did not escape my observation that he could easily push me off the ledge at any of several points along the steep path. I let him move along, but he was going so terribly slowly that I was wondering whether I would make it back to town before dark at that pace. And whatever he was doing with his hands, it didn't look too savory from behind. Finally, I decided that I would just pick up the pace and pass him. He was probably too bulky to catch up with me if I kept my speed. As I closed in on him, he turned and pulled down his shorts, asking me if I wanted a photo of his butt. I hardly wanted to encourage him, so I took advantage of his delay and sped up to catch the next group of tourists climbing back up the hill.
The fourth affair was of a different nature.
I was lugging my knapsack like a pack mule in early morning Marseille, thinking only about coffee and reaching the Gare de Lyon in time to catch my train to Barcelona. A man stumbled in front of me out of a doorway where a few men had gathered, possibly an all-night bar or a cafe; I hadn't taken close notice. I moved to the left and he moved to the left right in time with me, seemingly oblivious of my presence. It looked like he caught himself from falling over. I could see the side of his face. He was quite handsome and had absolutely gorgeous hair. His leather jacket fit well too and I was thinking what a waste that he is an alcoholic... when he moved to the right once again blocking me in my move to the right to avoid him. He never turned to look at me, but lurched into a side alley as I once again moved to the left. He did walk past a shop window right before turning where it seemed he recognized his reflection and perhaps remembered where he was heading.
I forgot about him and went on to catch the subway to the train station. It was pulling in as I arrived and I had to run to catch it.
So I was pretty surprised to see him in front of me ten minutes later on the escalator at the Gare de Lyon. He was standing above me, riding up and turned sideways to look at me. He had a penetrating, beautiful scary smile. He just stood there smiling at me, looking intensely into my eyes the whole way up the long slow escalator rise, so that everyone between us turned around to look at me as well.
I returned an awkward half-smile. Although I was traveling to Barcelona, I didn't trust that he wasn't stalking me, or maybe even a vampire stalking me, so I kept looking around me for the next twenty-four hours.
When I described the scene to my Australian friends Fran and Fiona over drinks on the night train, they shouted out simultaneously, "Crocodile Dundee!"