>> Saturday, June 06, 2009
To have been posted Thursday June 4, 2009.
A daily occurrence for women volunteers here is that we will be catcalled by random men on the street. These calls of “¡Gringa! ¡Chelita! ¡Hermosa! ¡Mi amor!” really bother some women, but I usually never let it get under my skin. On my daily walk to school from the market where I get off the bus, though, there are a couple of men in particular that have yelled to me every single day I’ve walked by them on my way to school even though I shake my head fiercely and refuse to acknowledge their existence.
After my trips to the States this past spring, my first day back to school the cat calls started anew: “¡Mi gringita! Where have you been? We thought you were lost! We’re so glad you’re back!” It was at this moment my heart softened a little bit for these guys… at least they had noticed my absence and seemed to miss me a little bit. More recently, I’ve been going to school in taxi because I don’t leave the house in time to catch the ruta, so when I passed by them on Tuesday they said, “¡Mi gringita! I know you’ve been passing by in cab so you can avoid me! I’m glad you’re back!” and at that moment I decided that perhaps I should try to reach a truce.
Yesterday I went shopping for souvenirs during my free periods at school, so I had to walk past them to get from school to the market. Normally when I approach the men I look straight ahead and keep walking, but yesterday I walked up to them and said hello… this alone was enough to preempt the catcalls for that visit. I explained to them that I have been ignoring them for all of this time because to Americans, those catcalls are very rude and offensive. I told them I now realize, though, that they don’t say those things to offend me, but rather because they think it’s nice. They agreed and said they meant no offense, so we introduced ourselves and agreed that I will stop ignoring them and will say hello to them when I pass, and they will stop catcalling me and say hello instead.
In the end they told me I needed a picture of them to remember them by, and it just so happened that I had my camera with me yesterday. Here’s their picture: