Helpless and Afraid

Hello Dear Readers!

Today I want to talk about a bit of a conflict I had while in Jordan. You all know I like to keep the blog pretty upbeat, and I think I do a decent job of that. However, sometimes bad things happen and we don’t know how to address them.

And I’d like some help on that. Are you ready?

You all know that I frequently extoll the virtues of Airbnb. It’s been my go-to for a long time, and has saved me tons of money. I booked an Airbnb for the first two weeks of my stay in Jordan, at a place that was pet-friendly (since Nala was originally supposed to be with me), and was relatively new. It had just a couple reviews, but they were all very positive.

The apartment itself wasn’t bad. It was a basement, and cold, but the location was good and it had all the necessities. As you know, David was there for the first few weeks, but he ended up leaving and I was staying alone in the Airbnb. Now, obviously the owners were living above us, a pharmacist and a doctor, and they seemed pretty nice. The husband (the pharmacist) even invited us in for lemonade and dropped us off for the minibus ride to the Dead Sea, which was generous of him.

I had two days alone in the Airbnb in Jordan. Now, I enjoy traveling alone, and I’m generally pretty brave, but I’m not stupid. I’m not about to venture around alone in Amman by myself. So I decided to just stay in the apartment until it was time to head to the Dead Sea. I had already arranged for Alaa to come pick me up and drop me off, so I had no worries there.

However, on the day I was due to leave, Alaa was running an hour late. I had already told the owner that I was leaving at 2pm, but then needed to ask for an additional hour to stay. So, I headed upstairs, knocked on the door, and asked him if it was ok. He agreed, then offered me some lemonade.

I hesitated, since I was by myself, but didn’t want to be rude. So I said ok. Keep in mind here that I hadn’t planned on staying upstairs at all, so I was mid-conversation with David and had even left my internet hotspot downstairs. I sat down on his couch, just like David and I had a few days before, before he casually asked if I was alone.

Yes, I was, I said, but only for a few days before I went home to the States. He then informed me that his wife was out of town too. I knew this already, since I had talked to her a few days before. However, he told me with such purpose that I immediately began to feel uncomfortable.

It then dawned on me that I was in a house, alone, in a strange country, with a man I hardly knew. A man who had just informed me that we were quite isolated together. And I had an entire hour before Alaa was going to be there to pick me up.

But I kept casually chatting, bringing up his wife and kids and work- anything- to keep the conversation going. He made some lemonade, then asked me if I was hungry. Obviously, I told him no.

“Ok, I’ll make you some food,” he said. (This is a cultural thing).

So I stood, awkwardly, in his kitchen, while he heated up some Arab food.

Then, he said, “I’ll bring you arroz, ok?”

And, I mean, I like rice. Doesn’t everyone?

He then left the kitchen, and I started reading some Arabic text on the wall, waiting for him to get back and trying to figure out how to politely leave.

He returned a minute later, with a freshly cut red rose in his hand, which he handed to me while swiftly wrapping his arm around me.

A rose. Not arroz.

I moved away from him and put the table between us, laughing nervously and setting the rose down.

Then, he asked, “so why did your partner leave? Did you guys fight?”

“No,” I said, “he had a family emergency.”

He smiled knowingly at this, and shrugged, obviously not believing me. “Don’t worry, I’ll fight with you,” he told me, while I glanced at the world’s slowest toaster oven, which was still heating up the Arab food.

I figured I could make my exit immediately after eating.

What does ‘fighting’ with someone even mean?

I was trying desperately to give him the benefit of the doubt here, you guys. I really was.

Then, since the conversation died again, he offered to show me around his house. I figured that was a pretty safe topic, so I agreed, and he began walking me through.

“This,” he said, opening a door with a flourish, “is a guest room. We can fight in here.” He gestured at the bed.

Then he led me upstairs, showing me two more bedrooms where we could fight together, before finally getting to the master bedroom and bathroom.

“The bathroom has a jacuzzi tub, it’s really nice.” He pointed to the tub. “You can take a bath in here after we fight.”

Is this making you guys uncomfortable? I feel uncomfortable just writing this. Walking back through it, I see a thousand ways I could have run out, but in the moment I was too afraid to do anything. I mean, all my stuff was downstairs, still in his house, and Alaa wasn’t due to arrive for another 30 minutes.

Then he turned on the tv upstairs, sitting down and gesturing for me to sit with him. I told him I’d rather be downstairs, so down we went, to the sitting room.

I perched on the edge of the couch, ready to run at any second. He noticed, as he sank down beside me, and said, “don’t worry, this is nothing to be ashamed of. You can sit back and relax.”

How do you respond to that?

I should also mention that he tried to get me to cancel my hotel at the Dead Sea, insisting that I should stay with him for the rest of my time in the country. When I continued to decline, he then tried to get me to cancel my ride, offering his car instead. He even offered me money for my time in Jordan, telling me that he could take care of me. Again, I declined, several times. Finally, he shrugged, giving up, and said, smiling, “See? We’re already fighting.”

Then he told me he liked that I had spirit, because his own wife was too quiet and passive.

In desperation, I asked him about his work. He told me that he imported different creams and such, and stood up, returning with a small tub of cream in his hand. He then took the liberty of opening it, putting a dollop on my hand, and rubbing it in.

Can you feel the panic yet?

I stood up quickly, saying that I thought the food was probably ready. It was lukewarm at best, but I let him pile my plate and vacuumed it down, making sure my chair was nowhere near his.

He smiled indulgently at my appetite, then asked me if I wanted dessert. I declined, to which he replied:

“Ok, I’ll make you some.” (Seriously cultural)

He then rummaged around in his fridge while I went to go wash my hands, checking the clock as I went. Forty minutes had passed, and I only had twenty left before my ride was due to arrive. I ran into him as he came out of the kitchen with a box of sweets, which I hurriedly shoved in my mouth before leaving to wash my hands again.

I then very obviously and very pointedly looked at the clock, before telling him I had to go finish packing.

He was clearly extremely disappointed, and asked me again if I would stay. I told him no, but then, cheering up, he remembered that I was due to return to Amman in a few days.

“You’ll stay with me, won’t you?” He asked hopefully, handing me the rose as I strode quickly to the front door.

“Yeah, sure, of course. I’ll message you.” I told him, literally closing the door in his face as I rushed to get out.

I made it back downstairs, locked the doors, drew the curtains, and video called David, so there would be a witness in case anything happened.

He could tell I was upset, and was obviously very angry. But what do you do? I couldn’t just leave the apartment, and I absolutely wasn’t going to walk outside without Alaa already there waiting in case the guy tried anything.

In the end, Alaa showed up, and the guy hung outside his door, calling to me as I went, “I’ll be here waiting for you!”

I threw my stuff into Alaa’s car, climbed into his front seat, and let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.

So.

I don’t know what to do about this. I haven’t reported it yet, because some part of me thinks he wasn’t trying to be the world’s most sleazy and awful person, and instead was simply trying to find himself another wife.

Which is very likely.

On the other hand, his actions were completely inappropriate and I wouldn’t want him to pull this shit on anyone else. I made it out ok, but if I hadn’t already had a ride scheduled and an obstinate desire to stick to my plans, I think he would have tried a lot harder to fight with me, right then and there.

I’m conflicted on this. What would you guys do?

-Carissa

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23 thoughts on “Helpless and Afraid

  1. Are you all right? Somewhere you feel secure?
    Obviously there are cultural differences…maybe he was just trying to be hospitable, but he should have been aware of the line that he crossed. Perhaps ask Alaa’s advice…just stay safe and take care x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here are my thoughts but I want to be clear that this is not intended as criticism of your reaction. It is very easy for someone to second guess you and give advise after the fact. But having said that . . .

    1. Get out. As soon as you felt uncomfortable, get out. Culture or manners be damned. Do not go to different parts of the house. Do not follow him around. Get out, immediately.
    2. As soon as you started feeling uncomfortable, do not eat or drink anything else that he gave you. Once again, culture or manners be damned. Get out. This is not the time to wonder what Miss Manners would do.
    3. Absolutely report to Airbnb.

    And do not fall for that this was a cultural misunderstanding. It wasn’t.

    Liked by 8 people

  3. I don’t know maybe report it in a way that says “maybe this is cultural difference but if not” I’m glad you’re okay but better safe then sorry. What if the next person isn’t as lucky to get away?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As i sit and read this, I actually tremble. I myself would not know how to act in that situation and the way you handled it is to be admired. This however does need to be reported as some other guest may not know how to act in this situation and could be taken advantage of. You have the power to stop this from happening to anyone else, as horrible as it is to have happened to you- no one else would have been able to diffuse the issue like that. I would go ahead and tell Air BnB as you will never have to see the man again so you don’t owe him anything after the way he treated you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for sharing this- it’s always a helpful reminder for frequent travelers to not ever feel too comfortable in your surroundings (which I would have after his kindness prior!). I would certainly contact air bnb because, regardless of his status as sleaziest person in the world, what he did would have made any woman feel incredibly uncomfortable and he shouldn’t be in a position to do that!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. A very difficult and embarrassing situation. Report him to Airbnb so that no other women stay there and obviously never go back! It is such a different culture over there and women from the west would have no legal standing or platform should anything have happened, I think you perhaps should not travel around any of these countries without someone with you. You were lucky this time, learn the lesson and if your partner has to leave, you leave. On the upside don’t let this scary experience put you off your travels and wonderful blogs. Stay Safe x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How is this embarrassing?? Clarissa did nothing wrong and nothing to be embarrassed about. I just hope people of both genders will wake up about what rape really looks like. I hate to have to state it so harshly but that is where it was headed. No means no — in any language.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, Carissa! I would’ve been freaking out! You handled yourself remarkably well given the circumstances. I understand your reluctance about reporting him to Airbnb, but regardless of cultural differences, this guy needs to know that HE is dealing with various cultures that don’t subscribe to this lecherous behavior. I do think he is accustomed to passive women and would’ve pursued this further with you had you not had an impending ride coming for you. I’m not one for confrontation, but I do think he should be reported so that hopefully he’ll think twice before he attempts to solicit women to “fight”. Please don’t let this unfortunate experience dull your adventurous spirit. Love this blog ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this! You managed the situation pretty well and gladly you are fine. You should report this to Airbnb. I really appreciate your courage and helping reminder that a lot of things, good and bad, might happen when we are travelling. And come on! if he is opening his house to foreigners he should mind about culture manners as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a terrifying experience. I am so glad that you were able to leave safely. I understand your dilemma in not wishing to offend (I am that same person), but your post is a timely reminder to me, and I would imagine others, that our own safety has to come first, and that under similar circumstances I would have to swallow my concerns about offending, and listen to my concerns about my own wellbeing and leave immediately. I am glad you took the decision to report this person. Whatever his motives, or the eventual outcome, he shouldn’t have made you feel this way. Thank you so much for sharing. An important reminder for women, like myself, who enjoy to travel alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi I had these kinds of experiences when I lived and travelled alone in Italy. What he did was inappropriate. Period. He saw a chance and he took it . I’m glad you got out of there safely. It just proves everyone needs to be street smart. Trust is something a person earns…we give it away too easily I would report it. At least let the company know ” no single women should stay at this residence.” These kinds of things can even happen in the U.S. -we just need to be careful when traveling alone.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. A couple of recommendations.
    Definitely report it to Airbnb.
    I would encourage a bit of research of cultures before your trips. Some cultures have a very different way of regarding women and of course life in general. I worked in the passport customer device center a while back and they have a lot of good information on their website about traveling in foreign countries.
    https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go.html
    I am so glad you made it out safely and hopefully enjoyed the rest of your visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Definitely send this to Airbnb. You are lucky he wasnt a more aggressive type of man and I think you handled the situation as best you could. Any consideration for cultural values is ultimately eclipsed by behaviours that are inappropriate and unwelcome, and men have a real problem that we women should not have to deal with when it comes to this kind of presumptuous action. In short, he was doing the wrong thing by ANY cultural standards, and you made your luck with your good sense.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. That is so scary! I understand your action pretending that you are in control facing him but he also thinks you agreed with him. Yes, better report that to BNB so others won’t be harmed. I hope you feel better now.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You poor thing. What an experience for you. Thankfully it turned out the way it did and you clearly are a strong person. I’m sure you’ve dealt with it already in terms of reporting – as I’m only reading this just now. For what it’s worth, a similar thing happened to me and it didn’t end so well. I didn’t report it, as I was younger & insecure, and wished I had.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Report the incident to the authorities, to Trip advisor, on your blog, because in this part of the world, if a single woman is traveling or left alone they assume they can use them for you know immorility, so they will try you to see how far they can go.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What an opportunistic sleaze he was! Report his behaviour in the most direct terms to airbnb and in your review. You should not feel apologetic for doing so. He was being very unfair to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Woah… I feel like you handled the situation pretty well. Being in a random country alone is hard, and obviously dangerous to such things. There was nothing wrong with having lemonade and stuff, etc. However, I seriously think this guy is creepy. I mean he kept saying how he would fight with you etc, I almost wish you got out of there faster, however, I think this should be reblogged everywhere because this is a really important lesson that a lot of people need to realize when considering traveling alone. I’m sure that culture and traditions there are different, but rubbing cream into your hand is like, almost disgusting. The audacity of his behavior is ridiculous, DEFINITELY Tell Airbnb so they know not to recommend people going there. I think we can all be happy that nothing TOO BAD happened, although I’m sure that what we read was not enough to show what kinda terrible experience you went through. Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I, like everyone else, advise you to report him to Airbnb. They will probably cut him out of their registry. Also when you get the request to give a recommendation (or not) about him, be honest. Don’t be afraid to put out a warning about him!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I agree that culture is involved, but in a different way. Muslim women do not expect that any time they are solo it is okay for a man, especially a married man, to try tricking her into bed. In fact many devout Muslim men would be livid hearing that a Muslim man pulled this.

    Sexual assault doesn’t always begin with force: often they include lots of this “grooming” to feel he has gotten some shred of consent. And the force comes when we put our foot down and start to leave.

    The only culture that was driving this event was Rape Culture. It shifts from community to community but in the end, that is the cause and that’s what has to be taken on.

    P.S. Yes, I said NO! every two sentences as I read your horrific account. Look up the specifics of Self-Defense tactics for Women. Statistics prove that specific tactics WORK. We shouldn’t rely on luck but I am thankful that in the end you walked away in safety. 🐦

    Like

  20. Hi Carissa,

    I read this a few days ago and I had to just walk away and think about it before replying. Reading your blog incited in me a fear for you and then anger. I wanted to go throat punch this man on your behalf.

    In the end I think that this thing happens more often than we can imagine. People try to take advantage of those who they think may be weak or succeed in doing so with those that are weaker than they. You did a great job of handling yourself under pressure. Sure looking back on it you think of other things you could of done, but the bottom line is that you got out of the situation without being harmed and that is important.

    Here’s the thing though, you got out of there unharmed. What happens if the next person doesn’t? The first serial murder was Henry Mudgett (also known as H.H. Holmes. He had a hotel in Chicago at the first worlds fair. This hotel drew young ladies in under the guise of “All girls boarding house” and many of them never made it out. What if one of the ladies, had reported him to the authorities? How many lives could be saved?

    Report him Carrissa. For what he did for you, and what he could do to other unsuspecting visitors. This is not a cultural thing.. this could have been rape or worse!

    Much Love,
    Fran

    Like

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