It was night time at the finca, the generator was shut off, the entire place was dark, most of the guests were snug in their beds, sleeping. I usually go down to the river at this time to swim. Nobody is usually there, nobody asks me any questions or want me to do anything for them. It is a quiet time for me at the end of the day — my family is asleep, there is nobody up and about. Just me.
I swim, I return to my room. En route I see an armadillo nuzzling about in the humus for grubs or whatever the hell armadillos eat. I shine my light on him, he is not afraid. He keeps nuzzling the ground, I keep watching him. The animals in the jungle are pretty cool, I think.
It is my impression that the other guests in the hotel think so too.
I see a young Israeli girl walking on another path from the bathroom to her room. I try urgently to wave her over, I yell “Come here!”
She looks at me wide eyed with terror and ran to her room. I watch curiously as she opened and then slammed shut the door, and then began cackling Hebrew to her friends.
What an odd individual. Who doesn’t want to see an armadillo in the jungle?
Then it hit me:
She seemed scared. What could she have been scared of? I was the only one around?
Then it became obvious, she was scared of me. Apparently, I creeped her out.
I forgot to mention that I was wearing nothing but a bath towel around my waste, I was standing in the dark of night on an obscure path in front of her room while everybody else was asleep.
I looked down at myself and took an inventory: tattooed, muscular, shaved headed and bearded. I broke down laughing, I felt like a real f’cking Larry David.
I scare Israeli women.
From my perspective I am a nice guy, not too much of a creep, with very few ill intentions. I was looking at an armadillo and thought it cool. I showed some tourists a couple of weeks before an armadillo in the same location and they thanked me profusely. I thought the Israeli girl may have liked to look at the armadillo, too.
I thought wrong.
From the perspective of the Israeli girl I was a malicious looking pervert, nearly naked, lurking in front of her door, trying to get her.
How many times have I ran away from people just wanting to show me something cool? How many times have I sidestepped situations that could have been really interesting out of fear? How many times have I left people standing alone in the night to unjustifiably feel like a creep.
In travel, a human’s natural senses of security are either heightened — this is good — or completely abandoned — not good. Security choices need to be made in a flash, your legs, not your head, need to tell you what to do.
When walking through a dark Central American finca in the middle of the night is that odd looking fellow standing in a the bath towel on a dark path calling you over to look at something cool or is he trying to get you? There is only a split moment to decide.
The Israeli girl ran for dear life. She did not get to see something cool.
I was left to hang out with the stupid armadillo all by myself.
Travel is about perception and perspective, you have your own and that is all you have to work from. Believe in it, believe in it 100%, but also realize that you may have gotten it all wrong: sometimes tattooed creeps in bath towels standing alone in the dark only want to show you something cool.
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