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Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey (or, that time my tour guide tried to grope me)

I had intended to write here about how, sometimes, I feel like an awful traveler.

Like how I’ve been forking over extra money to take shuttles instead of chicken buses because I feel more comfortable and because it’s just that much easier. Or like how I booked a tour (albeit an incredibly cheap tour that started where I was and finished where I wanted to be) to Lanquin and Semuc Champey instead of doing it all myself like I had originally planned.

And then I got to Semuc Champey, and saw just how absolutely beautiful it was. And that didn’t really matter, so I thought that I would just write about how it was, quite possibly, one of the nicest places in Guatemala. The thick, lush nature of the park. The cerulean pools dipping down into each other. Breathtaking.

And I wanted to write about the cave tour. How haunting it was. We couldn’t bring cameras because it was too wet. It was pitch dark and so the path was solely lit by the candles we carried through the slippery crevices, swam with through tight lagoons, held up and down ladders. The wax would drip and burn my skin. The water was cold but my face so hot.

I wanted to write about all of those things.

But no. This will instead be a post about how the tour guide at the cave spent the entire time trying to grope me and kiss me.

It started innocently enough with a kiss on the cheek.

I’ve talked before that I have a great fear of heights, of many things. And the cave tour involved a lot of climbing on slippery areas. I constantly felt like one wrong move would have me clinging for my life, falling to my death. I fell behind with the rest of the group and needed the tour guide to help me numerous times.

I needed to trust him numerous times.

I could deal with the kiss on the cheek. The hug, for making it through a difficult obstacle. I was proud of myself, actually, for pushing myself into a situation I was scared of, relished in having someone to share a moment with.

But then, every time I was descending or ascending a ladder into the cave he was holding me up with my ass. Squeezing a little too much. And then one time his finger reached a little too forward. And he’d grab my head between his hands and pull me in for a kiss. I would turn.

But I needed his help. I needed to trust him. We were in too deep in the cave to turn around. I couldn’t go forward or backwards without him.

As we swam through the caves he kept trying to hold my hand. As everyone passed he kept trying to get me to stay behind, cling to a rock with him, hold onto his arm.

I had to keep breaking free.

By the end of the tour I was crying. Tears running down my cheeks. I didn’t want anyone else to know what was happening but I so desperately wanted to get out of that cave.

The last obstacle of the cave was this little waterfall where everyone had to slide down. One I didn’t want to go down. But the other option was to be alone with the guide as he lead me back another way.

I sat on the edge crying not knowing what to do. Just wanting to be out. And then I was the only one left. And all the candles had blown out. And it was completely dark. And he grabbed me on both sides of my face and tried to pull me in and kiss me.

And so I just started yelling at him. “No!” “Just take me back!”

And he got really mad at me and lit a new candle and kept telling me to calm down as if I was freaking out about the ladders and not about him trying to take advantage of me in the cave.

When we caught up to the others he started to complain that I needed to calm down. I started to complain that he had tried to kiss me. Some of the boys confronted him afterwards. Words that pretty much fell on deaf ears. And I told the people at the hostel who organized the tour and lodged a complaint. They assured me that it wasn’t their company doing the tour (which I thoroughly understood) but that they would talk to them and make them know that they can’t behave that way.

This was definitely not the first time a tour guide has tried to hit on me in my travels. And not the first time I’ve been unwillingly groped.

But it was the scariest. Afterwords a girl who worked at the hostel gave me a hug and asked if I had people to talk to in case I needed it later. But I was OK, reasoning with myself that it was just another case of a man I didn’t want trying to kiss me trying to kiss me. That has happened before too.

But then, for days afterwards, I found myself bursting into tears, feeling disgusted, hating myself and him and any thought of it.

Because I wish I had said something sooner. Because I wish it had never happened at all. Because I wish I was a strong woman, unafraid of the world, who could handle everything on her own, who wasn’t afraid of everything. Because being weak, helpless, can put a girl in a lot of places she doesn’t want to be.

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

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3 Comments
  • Vince
    May 10, 2013 at 10:21 am

    No words I can say can make this go away but I’m thinking about you and hope for only good things on your travels this day forward. And for all men in the world like this to become eunuchs. That too.

  • Heather
    May 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I’m sorry. I did not realize that happened. šŸ™ sorry.

  • Hanny
    June 11, 2013 at 2:34 am

    So sorry to hear that such horrible thing happened to you; in such a beautiful place! šŸ™ *sending tight hugs your way* Stay safe on your travels, Val!

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