I have always loved travel. This summer I spent two and a half months in Ecuador taking Spanish courses in Cuenca and traveling the countryside. It was my first extended trip alone and my first trip to South America. I was anxious about traveling to a foreign place alone as a woman but passionate that it was what I wanted to do. It had its ups and downs, but overall was a positive experience. I learned a lot about myself and my place in the world. I encourage all women who have a desire to travel to get out there and make it happen, despite fears, despite financial constraints, despite being alone.
My family could not afford to send me on study abroad. Undiscouraged, I resolved to excel in my Spanish classes and eventually earn myself a scholarship to do what I wanted. And that is exactly what happened three years later. I applied myself, was offered admission into Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, and soon found myself applying for a scholarship. This experience has been proof to me that you can make any dream come true if you commit yourself to its manifestation.
In Ecuador I experienced a lot of pleasure, but there was also pain. Yet, I overcame the pain, and I grew in strength and confidence. Now I know I can protect myself. Now I carry deeper wisdom. It takes negative to experiences to manifest positive ones in the future. I would like to share from my journal a negative experience that has taught me that I am powerful. It has taught me that no one has power over me.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Last night two men tried to rob me. It was 7pm, less than an hour since dusk, in a wealthy neighborhood. No one else was on the block. They were walking sketchy toward me on the sidewalk, not sticking to one side. When I tried to pass them they blocked me in toward the wall, one grabbed my arm and the other showed his knife.
“Discuple, Senora.” They said excuse me, Miss.
“Dame la bolsa.” Give me the bag.
At that instant panic struck and I thought, Oh god, this is not happening to me again. I have been robbed before and it was traumatic. By the grace of God I had the intuition to put my pepper spray in the most accessible part of my bag before leaving home. Instead of freezing in panic I turned into a fierce mama bear. I noticed how puny and dull their blade was. I saw how they were both shorter than me. Having the pepper spray gave me great confidence. I pulled my arm free, screamed No! and put my hand on my weapon, ready to use it on them if they tried one more trick. I jumped back away from them and out into the streetlight, screaming, “Fuck off, you fuckers!” They immediately froze, put their hands up, and backed away slowly. We each cautiously checked each other out as we walked off in different directions. They seemed almost more shocked than I was.
I walked away stunned, throbbing with adrenaline. I immediately felt incredibly empowered, proud and grateful. I was grateful that I slipped away without a scratch or a lost penny. I was pleased that I shook them off of me with such confidence. Self defense classes, jiu jitzu and wrestling played an incredible role in my confidently knowing that I can protect myself in the face of panic.
But as I kept walking and began to calm a bit, I noticed a throbbing pain where he had grabbed my forearm. I felt a dark, deep sadness welling out of that spot. The fear of violence gripped my heart and I began to cry. I wept for several blocks. I walked to a spot where I was friendly with the bartender. I walked in crying and told them what happened.
“Un tequila para la mujer!” The Mexican relaxant. Before leaving I sat in the corner and meditated on restoring my aura. I placed my hands on my womb, where I was feeling heaviness. I sent love to my womb. I told myself I was safe. I am safe. I visualized my happiness, my love. I am happy. I am loved. I thanked Spirit for protecting me. I took time to take care of myself. Then I went to meet up with my friends.
But today I woke up at 6 am, angry. Very angry. I am still in shock that this happened to me, again. I screamed and shouted and let the anger move. I threw my arms through the air around me and growled. The anger opened into tears. I cried for my safety. I cried for fear of violence. I cried for the safety of all women. I cried for the vulnerability of women. I cried for the pain of women. I cried because it will not be the last time.
This experience was a shock and a blessing. I put me on my guard for the rest of the trip. It helped me be aware of how to better protect myself and avoid confrontations. It was painful to go through, but ultimately rewarding. It has deepened my commitment to being a living light of love and healing. It has deepened my commitment to healing women, to empowering women and strengthening our front in the crusade to stop violence. It has deepened my understanding that any experience I want to have is worth it, despite my fears. I know I can protect myself. I know my fears can open up into wisdom. I hope that you can know this too.