My nightmare from Cuba

At the end of 2016, I took a solo-trip to Cuba. Pictures showed me having a great time, and enjoying the sights but something happened that’s been eating away at me. My blog is about honesty. I don’t like to sugar coat things and aim to share the ups and downs of my life, so read on.

Cuba was lovely and certainly interesting but I do not plan on ever returning. I got a stomach bug on the last day, found it extremely challenging to navigate and plan, and the verbal harassment and unwanted attention I received made me so uncomfortable it still bothers me to think about it.

I’ve traveled to over 15 countries on my own, met locals, exchanged contact information with 100s of strangers and never really felt unsafe or harassed. I always encourage people to travel, and tell women that solo-travel is completely safe by reassuring them I’ve never had a problem. Everything changed after my Cuba trip.

It’s been over a month since I have been back in Canada and I am still being harassed by a local I met in Cuba. We spent 1 afternoon together, seeing a city and the local sights. Just 1 day spent together and he continued to message me every single day after that. The messages were totally inappropriate and unwanted. I deleted them immediately because I was so uncomfortable. He tried to find out my itinerary so he could join me or wait for me when I was arriving places. There was a group of us that exchanged numbers and he would contact them to check up on me because I wasn’t responding to him. I spent the last night in Cuba hiding out in my room because I was scared of running into him. The morning of my flight, I went to the airport 5 hours earlier because I didn’t want to be in the city anymore and I wanted to get the fuck out. The second my flight took-off, I felt a huge sense of relief.

I’ve deleted and blocked him and he keeps sending me requests. I have never had to fight so aggressively to get someone out of my life.

Honestly, it’s been a nightmare dealing with this unwanted attention.

picture1
The irony of this advice

I am so sorry to anyone who’s ever dealt with any form of harassment. I can’t even imagine having to handle anything more than this. It adds stress to my life and it’s hard to stop replaying everything in my head. Why did I give this person my number? Why won’t he stop messaging? How many times do I have to tell him to stop? Seriously why won’t he leave me alone?

Some days, I don’t even want to check my phone because I get so stressed that his name will pop up.

Another upsetting part of this ordeal is realizing how hurtful victim-blaming feels. It makes me feels like I am completely irresponsible (which is not the case.)

I take pride in how cautious and responsible I am, especially when I travel. I always have a back-up plan, I tell people where I am going, I check-in when I arrive to new places, I walk in lit and populated areas, I watch how much I drink , I drink responsibly, I carry a whistle and mini-flashlight when I travel, I register with the embassy and travel boards, I have an emergency fund etc.

Most people I’ve told about this ordeal have been supportive and offer reassurance. Everyone has tried to help but sometimes they will say things that are not helpful.

Honestly though, without this experience, I probably would have asked insensitive things too. Being helpful and saying the ‘right’ thing is something we all have to learn.

Examples:

Why did you give him your number? At the time, I thought it was harmless and a great way to see the city. I’ve given out my number before and never had this kind of harassment.

You should be flattered by the attention. Nothing about unwanted, explicit behavior is flattering. It makes me anxious and literally nauseous. When I say no to something, I am not being cute or coy, I fucking mean NO.

no

Just ignore it. I’m trying. But it still bothers me.

Ghost his ass. At first, I was like “omg that’s so rude”. But ya, definitely deleted him off of everything since it’s been over a month of unwanted messages.

I’ve never had something like this happen to me before. I may not have handled everything right. But I still don’t deserve to let someone else’s behaviour affect my daily life and add so much stress and anxiety. If anyone has helpful tips to help me deal with this, please send them along. And send cookies too, I’ve been stress-eating a lot lately.

I don’t want to generalize and discourage people from going to Cuba but it was the only country I’ve visited that left a bad taste in my mouth. I met amazing people and learned so much about the country so if you do visit (especially as a solo-traveler) do your research, be prepared, travel in groups, and be careful.  (Though I did all of this and still got stuck in this situation)

move-on

 

 

 

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