Last night I flew to Bolivia! The flight itself was an adventure. My flight to Lima was without difficulties. In fact, I had the whole row to myself, meaning that I actually got some decent sleep. This proved to be very convenient, as Lima´s airport was a nightmare. I was rushed through security, which I was not expecting because this was not the case in San Salvador. I was harassed for documents, and in very frantic Spanish, I insisted that Peru was not my final destination.
Finally, after a bit of chaos and confusion, I was put through to the connecting international flights.
While waiting, a gate change was announced for Bolivia. I looked at the screen, but the number next to my flight’s gate had not changed. In Spanish, I asked my neighbor if it was our gate that had changed, and she told me it was for Santa Cruz -a different city in Bolivia. Right as I was about to say thank you, I was interrupted by the man across the aisle who translated what the lady just told me. So as not to be rude, I just said thank you.
He replied, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to discourage you from speaking Spanish, I just noticed you’re not from around here… Where are you headed?”
“Oh yeah? Me too! Where are you from?”
Seeing as how this is a pretty common question asked in airports, I gave him an answer… “California”
“I’m from there too! What part?”
Now, this is where I decided to make a judgement call. In general, I am the type of person to give trust. But this guy had a weird vibe and he looked like the guy from “Lovely Bones”. But I thought if maybe I gave him one more really general answer, he would drop the subject, and not ask me any more questions. So, I said, “The bay area.”
But this response only encouraged him further. “I have a house in Rohnert Park. I probably know exactly where you live. Which city?” I knew he was trying to give me information to seem credible, but I wasn’t buying it.
Somehow, I managed to change the subject around on him and I asked why he was going to La Paz. He said he had family there. He then started asking questions that were way too specific. Questions that I am not naive enough to entertain. “Where exactly are you staying? Do you know anyone here?” etc.
“I don’t know. Yes.” Go away! I am so thankful that my dad had me read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker before I left. I was fully aware that something wasn’t right.
Luckily, boarding started, and he lost sight of me.
The lady I sat next to on the plane was my guardian angel, I swear. Vicky was traveling back to La Paz with her husband, and three children, one of whom had just graduated from a college in San Fransisco. She was more than happy to speak Spanish with me. During that flight, she basically adopted me and gave me consejos (advice) about Bolivia.
By the end of the flight, I knew the answers to everything I had been worried about, and she said she would help me get a taxi, and make sure the driver knew where to go.
We landed and I got in line for migrations. The creep from earlier was behind me in line. He started yelling at me WHILE I WAS TRYING TO TALK TO MIGRATIONS. “Hey, bay area girl!” I ignored him and started walking away. I heard him tell someone, “She’ll be back.”
I hurried to Vicky who was waiting for her luggage and told her what was happening. The man approached us and began telling me that he thinks it’s dangerous for me to be out at this hour by myself (it was one in the morning).
“Let me give you a ride.” He said. (I apologize in advance for the language, Grandma) but FUCK NO!
Vicky quickly jumped in and told him that she was my aunt and that I would be riding with her. He sulked away. Vicky said that she didn’t trust him either. I have no idea what this guy’s intentions were but as I was leaving the airport, I happened to catch a glimpse of him helping another solo female traveler with her luggage.
I shudder to think what could have happened.
Not only did this beautiful woman sent from God help me practice my Spanish, deter a creep, and give me great advice, but she also ended up riding with me to the hostel, paying for the taxi, and she gave me her number and said to call for ANYTHING I need.
I owe this lady and her family a lot. I pray that God blesses them just as he blessed me with her.