When I arrived at my desk today I saw this post in my google reader:
The proposed theory of bears being attracted to menstruating women has been proved bogus, but apparently komodo dragons pose a real threat to us. Interesting post, as it comments on cultural implications of being an adult female tourist.
I have travelled to some interesting places in this world, with and without a male companion. In Egypt I felt extremely safe. In Paris, France? Not as much. This, despite being able to speak passable French and being able to physically blend in. Believe me, a pale blue-eyed woman does not blend well in Egypt, no matter how well she covers her hair with a scarf. In Paris I felt like much more of a target for thieves and general harassment. In Egypt, I felt protected, as if many strangers were looking out for me to ensure I was unharmed. The police in Egypt are regarded as corrupt nuisances at the best of times, and if I gave them a tip they would let me take a picture of them holding their guns. So, I was rather flabbergasted by the general feeling of safety I experienced there in Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Valley of the Kings, the Nile boat cruise, dinner with a Nubian family, and at the 5-star resort town of Hurghada.
This year I went to Peru with husband, midgets, Gaby and her husband Lui. I felt the least safe in Lima I have ever felt anywhere. As soon as darkness fell, we had to stay inside. Our day-glow white skin made us beacons of western affluence; definitely not what you want in a city of brown-skinned people living in poverty. We could feel many eyes on us even during the days. Interestingly enough I felt very safe in Cusco, a city in Peru from which thousands of tourists travel to Machu Picchu. The city was crawling with white people wearing structured backpacks, wool hats with braids, quick-dry pants and socks with mephisto sandals. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t also a LOT of locals selling various crafts and foods on the streets. And trust, they were working hard to feed their families and themselves. We travelled around Cusco quite a bit, looking at various ruins and surrounding towns, and we never worried about encountering difficulties. It’s nice to feel that naive safety.
I have no idea the crime rates of those towns and cities or what life is really like for the people who live there. I tried to learn about them, and I did, but I didn’t plumb the depths of what it feels like to be Peruvian. Since we lived in Paris in an apartment for a month, I got a good handle on what it’s like to live there, which is very similar to the city where I currently live, just with better scenery!