Lost in Translation
In the summer of 2011, I left for a three month trip to Ecuador to do my thesis research in the cloud forest. I felt strong, independent, and full of idealist notions. That all changed at my first project.
I headed up to the cloud forest my third week in Ecuador after a brief two weeks of learning Spanish in Quito. Now I would be living at a secluded ecolodge in the mountains.
When I arrived in the small town where I'd be staying, a man picked me up at the bus and gave me a ride on the back of his motorbike to the ecolodge. There I met this man's wife and three kids ages 16, 7, and 10 months. I spoke limited Spanish at this point and they spoke no English besides a few words the oldest son learned at school. So our conversations were had through shared smiles and nods.
Although other volunteers were arriving on Monday, I was there alone for three days over the weekend. I wasn't scared to be alone though. I trusted most people in life and didn't feel threatened. The husband set me up in a cabin of my own with several bunk beds down the hill a mile.
The first day I went for a hike to the waterfalls with the boys. I forgot my bathing suit so at the waterfalls I went in the water in my underwear and bra, which I didn't view as being risque because they both covered my body fully. I soon regretted this action though on the hike back.
As we hiked back, I stopped several times to rest as it was all uphill and the 16 year old son continued to pester me to kiss him, but I laughed it off because he didn't feel threatening. But then the father started grabbing my waist as I walked in front of him and tried putting his arm around me when I sat down. I winced every time he touched me and tried to brush him off with my hand and limited Spanish.
That night after dinner the father/husband insisted on walking me to my cabin to "check for bugs". He entered my cabin and pretended to spray for bugs then tried putting his hands on me but I pushed him off.
The following day I went for a hike with the son and it started raining so we hid under a tree. The next thing I knew the father had appeared at the tree and sat down next to me. He started putting his hands on me and trying to kiss me. I felt so helpless and afraid because the son got angry at his father and ran back to his bike leaving me there with him. He kept calling me his love and telling me how beautiful I was. He caressed my face and pressed his lips against mine. I pulled away. I told him I'm going to find his son. I ran in the rain down the path and found him huddled under a truck. He wouldn't talk to me because he was angry thinking I wanted to be with his father.
His father caught up with us and yelled at his son to go home. The father forced me to ride back on his bike with him and didn't take me back to the house but rather to another house hidden from the road. There he said this was his second house and where we could be together alone. I said no I don't want to be with you. He showed me the house and then unzipped his pants and held by body tightly against him as he kissed my face. I pushed him and continued to say "No te quiero" (I don't want you). He said we could run away with his kids and get married. I screamed no but no one was nearby to hear me. I stormed out of the house and up the path. He followed me.I insisted he take me back. He drove me back to the house.
The next day we were cleaning the other cabins for the new volunteers, whom I was eager to meet. While alone in my cabin with him cleaning the floor he grabbed me and held me down on the bed. His wife was a mile away at the house and wouldn't hear me if I screamed. I feared if I tried to hurt him he would only do the same to me and I knew that I was stuck there for the rest of the week with no escape.
I gave in and let him have sex with me (without a condom) as tears dripped down my face. And it was wrong.