“Really?”

That’s the usual first response from people when they learn I’m traveling solo. (In Spanish, it’s either, “¿De verdad?” or, “¿En serio?”)

Women of all nationalities then tend to think it’s pretty great.

Latin American men are horrified. The questions then proceed along these lines:

Are you married?
Do you have a boyfriend?
Do you have children?

The horror usually intensifies when I give my answers:

No.
No.
No.

It is a completely foreign idea that a woman of my age could be single, independent, and happy with her life as it is.

As a solo traveler, I often find myself dining alone. I appreciate when people engage me in conversation. It provides a little entertainment and is another opportunity to practice my Spanish.

But as I’ve been traveling as a tourist over the past two weeks, some of these nice conversations have morphed into uncomfortable situations. A few different men have decided that I want/need their intervention, and now it’s my turn to be horrified by their behavior. They don’t take no for an answer.

So here is my message to the Latin American men working in tourist locations:

When I say I don’t want to meet you after work to go dancing, I really mean that I do not want to go dancing.

When I decline another cocktail, I really mean that I do not want another drink.

Hanging with a sea lion in the Galapagos

Hanging with a sea lion in the Galapagos

And while I appreciate being asked if you can kiss me, when I say no, I really mean that I do not want you to kiss me. The fact that you think I’m beautiful and want to kiss me doesn’t change my answer.

I don’t want to distrust every stranger or immediately be suspicious of every guy who starts talking to me, so I am going to work hard to put this aspect of the past two weeks behind me and instead focus on the fun I’ve had. To help with that, I’ve included one photo of the fun part.