In hindsight, spending a week alone at a jungle cabin, accessible only by a dirt trail known to locals as ‘the rape path’, wasn’t a great idea. But I didn’t know that when I booked it.
The idea of a secluded private cabin at the edge of the world where the jungle meets the sea sounded like paradise. And it was, for a day.
The endless beaches, plethora of birds and animals, constant roar of the sea; it was beautiful. But combo that with the warnings dished out to me by every local I met in the tiny town an hour’s walk away and it had me feeling pretty paranoid, pretty fast. Stories of machete attacks and rape didn’t give me great vibes about my little hut’s location, especially when my only route back was along the path they said never to take.
I love spending time on my own, so I’m no stranger to elective solitude, but I’d never realised the comfort that comes from knowing someone else is nearby in case the shit hits the fan.
At around 6pm each evening, the night fell around me as a thick cloak of blacked out nothingness. As the heavy crashes of the sea engulfed everything, I felt like I was the only person in the universe, acutely aware, that in space no one can hear you scream.
For the most part, travelling on my own was awesome. I loved working my way across countries I’d never been to and going wherever the hell I wanted with no compromises. But journeying alone has its challenges. And alone as a female, comes with a few predictable extras.
By the end of my trip, nothing made me want to go She-Hulk more than the line, “You’re too beautiful to be travelling alone.” – a fine example of a pointless thing to say.
I’ve never felt as aware of, or restricted by, my own gender as I did on my solo travels. To be treated as a woman instead of a human being soon takes its toll when you’re used to being treated as an equal. From living in Colombia I’d adapted to and in some ways embraced the vocal appreciation of the female form that’s so common there. But being constantly bombarded with sexual advances as I journeyed alone quickly began to piss me off.
If there’s one thing I could change about travelling alone, it would, without a doubt, be the gender-based dangers that make kind people feel they need to warn women about their safety, although I’m grateful they do.
The amazing strangers I’ve met and the ridiculous situations I’ve gotten into are responsible for some of the most memorable experiences of my life so far.
Even so, it wouldn’t hurt if members of our global community could give women a break from sexual advances every now and again. After all, a little time on their own might be part of the reason they chose to go travelling solo in the first place.