The attention is good but over-attention is annoying When I was accompanied by Dania, the lady I stayed with for three weeks in Cuba, everyone thought I was her daughter. I wasn’t getting abnormal attention from men. As soon as I would walk sola, here they would come.
I wanted to buy tickets to a Music Fest. As soon as I walked to the ticket office, an “obviously interested” guy with a little girl started telling me a bunch of “piropas.” (You can only imagine what they were). Since I had neither a phone number nor an e-mail I can check in Cuba, he ripped off a piece of his organizer and gave me his number “to get a drink one day.” I am sure I would be paying for both of those.
In one day…. I walked to the Universidad de La Habana to get the info about Spanish classes. On the way, a random guy “Had a quick question,” another one asked if I “need a Cuban boyfriend,” a few thought I was “Beautiful,” another walked with me for a few blocks talking about Cuba (which was very nice), and the last one just before I turned into my street asked what I was doing in Cuba and finished with “muy linda.”
Strolling by the waterfront a guy took my hand and with a thick accent and passionate eyes said: “Good afternoon.” Then, walking on a street I accidentally made an eye contact with a guy who was walking with a lady. The lady didn’t stop him. He whistled at me and said a few things.
BEING A GIRL:
Being a girl complicates a lot of things while traveling. Not too many local girls are interested in making foreign friends and you can only imagine what the local guys are interested in. I proudly tell all the people I meet that I am from Ukraine but I can only picture how many guys would be “very very interested” if I said I lived in the States. With all these experiences I really have to filter everything. It, however, also builds a thick wall in making friends. In reality, I would LOVE to get a drink with that guy and chat but the way he approached me, makes me think twice.
I always try to “fit in” when in a foreign country. I don’t wear white tennis shoes or khaki African safari outfits, don’t carry large backpacks or walk in the city with a map or camera. But how do you do it when miles away people can tell “extrangera.”
At a percussion festival Cubans paid $9 less than foreigners. Dania ended up buying tickets as the tickets guy wanted to charge me more. The first time I went with Dania I got in with no problem.
When I had to go by myself I was a bit concerned because Dania always says I “look like a foreigner four blocks away.” She even found me glasses to “look more Cuban.” We had fun dressing up but when I got to the front door the guy who checked tickets made me buy a ticket for foreigners. I decided to go home as I didn’t even know who was playing.
Sometimes I feel I get tired of always being out of place and in a foreign country. It has been 6 years and sometimes I feel like I am ready to go back home…
SPEAKING ENGLISH TO FOREIGNERS:
Why do all people assume that all foreigners speak English? Every time I walk on a street, everyone tries to yell at me in English. When the rest of the world was learning English, Cubans were studying Russian. So how about Russian por favor?