It is probably true that lone travellers and group travellers experience a place differently.
One clear example would be the fact that I couldn’t wait to get out of Amsterdam while I never wanted my time in Spain to end – my housemate disliked Madrid but she enjoyed Amsterdam immensely. Locals react to you differently depending on the size of your entourage – or my lack of one.
– Which would probably explain why I was solicited for sex while commuting in Madrid. I remembered it being a feverish morning – I couldn’t wait to alight at Atocha to get to Reina Sofia for the Dalvador Sali Exhibition. While literally straining to find my next go-to spot on the map, this white middle-aged guy came up to me and pointed at my SLR, “What camera is that?”.
“Oh, it’s a Canon 60D”. He told me he doesn’t know that model since he carries a Nikon (pronounced it as NAI-KORN) and what was I doing with a map, am I on a holiday here, bla bla bla. I replied amiably at first, thinking he was a friendly local (I had after all, met extremely friendly and helpful locals the night before). He then introduced me a few spots in Madrid and told me he’s actually a Californian, having been here four times for both business and pleasure. I jumped at that and said, “oh my cousins live in Chino Hills and what a surprise to have this unlinked coincidence in a foreign place. What do you do then, back home?”
“Oh, I am a lawyer and occasionally, I try to solicit young girls like you into having sex with me”, he said blandly.
I looked at him and wondered what on earth did he just uttered. Was he asking for sex? And if he was, did he think he could get it without doing it properly – like asking me out for a date and some fake romance first? I mean seriously, even if it’s a one-night (morning in this case)-stand, there’s a proper route to go through before the goal is attained. I just stared at him. He laughed and blabbered on about how awesome (Americans really love this word) Madrid is. He offered to alight at the exact same stop as me because his hotel was just one stop away – “It’s okay, i will walk with you, it would be my pleasure”.
At this point I was guffawing internally while thinking of ten ways to cut myself loose from this man.
We walked out of the station while chattering away (sigh, why was I so nice) and he attempted again – saying something along the lines of i want to have sex with you in which I thought to myself, dude, you might be older than me but you sound like a total amateur in this game. I didn’t slap him or morphed into a rude-monster. I just smiled my social smile, said my goodbye and immersed myself into the world of Dali wondering if it was a culture of the West to be doing this kinda lewd (well not exactly) things in public.
Maybe the Yellow Fever is indeed out there. Perhaps the sexualization of the Asian, nubile girl – I am nothing like that, in fact, I am nowhere near the ideal beauty of an Asian woman, but don’t worry it’s not like I am disheartened about it – still persists or maybe, that American dude was just a rude opportunist asshole who was horny at 9 in the morning. Who knows? Madrid remains one of my favourite destination and regardless of what you have heard, yes, Spanish men are indeed a class of their own in Europe.
(I still laugh about it today – my friends say the darnest things happen to me while I travel, like that random French kiss in the train and the entire Bakerloo line breaking down while I was on it, etc. Despite the outlandish happenings, this is why I still thrive to go places because at the end of the day, it is these little things which make me smile and it is the interactions with people from different worlds that linger most in my mind)