Uruguay Travel Blog› entry 2 of 17 › view all entries
Before I came to Latin America I was constantly reminded by friends and family of the consequences of "machismo." This personality characteristic is supposed to be the normal standard for the men of Latin America, and is based around a principal of cocky confidence in their ability to "get" women. Since I have been in Argentina (about two weeks) I haven't noticed this trait in the least. Some people said that in the city you only notice the benifits- the attention to manners and gentlemanly behavior. Yet, even that wasn't noticed. I can recount time and again, men being just as pushy and rude as in the States.
I was shown otherwise when I went to visit the country. As it turns out Machismo is alive and well in the scariest of senses.
I never considered Latin America, or rather a developing/near developed country to be a serious hazard. Sure, you always need to tread with care, but continual threat is uncommon. This didn't turn out to be the case when crossing the border in Uruguay to Argentina.
After getting our pass ports stamped and walking to the dock (merely a skeleton of an abandoned concrete framed building half submerged in water) and down to the lower floor... imagine a Godfather scene where someone is about to get taken out... we were stopped by an government official in full uniform. At first we assumed he was just a helpful guy who was there to make sure that we were getting on the correct boat (even though their was only one boat). But, after he asked if we were single, then told us how pretty we were, then proceeded to grab my jacket and zip it up for me... and all the while talk about how he really likes Americans... I started to feel very uncomfortable. It became too lucid that we were alone, on a dock, on the coast of Argentina with out a soul in sight who would witness or be able to comprehend anything I was saying. Luckily the boat pull up just in the nick of time and I was able to pull my jacket out of his hands.
I thought to myself that that was just one creepy old man, no different than any other old man from any other country, but as it turns out this "machismo" has a tendency to lie in upper management.
When we got on the bus to go to the Termas (hot springs) and the bus boy took our tickets. But then, their was a "bus manager" who after the bus boy took our tickets had to come by and ask us to get up and turn around (completely unnecessary) then proceeded to check our ticket stubs and give us the once over. When you take into account that this is the city bus of Salto, a town of maybe 5,000 people, where only one bus is needed to service the entire town. Then take into account that the bus was less than half full, it was purely to the delight of the "bus manager" that we were travelers who happened to be female so he could have a field day.
Many other occasions happened on the way home back to the civility that was BsAs. But one thing remained consistent- everyone who approached the line between casual flirting and US definition sexual harassment was upper management and they wanted us to see it.