An International Woman

Entry by: Alobear

10th March 2016
An International Woman

In hindsight, it was very foolish.

I was straight out of university and convinced I could change the world. The passion of the young and idealistic would sell for millions to older and wiser heads, if you could bottle it. But, in its pure form and original housing, it really ought to come with a health warning. Not that I would have listened to anyone who had tried to warn me at the time, of course.

With a degree in Spanish and a head full of superiority, I travelled to Venezuela to join a movement trying to advance the message of forest conservation.

I didn't even make it out of the airport.

I must have presented myself as a prime target. Breezing through passport control with my blonde hair flying and enveloped in misplaced European confidence, I must have had a neon sign above my head to attract predators.

A woman approached me, asking if I needed a taxi, and the fact of our shared gender gave me a ridiculous, and obviously fully intended, sense of security. I followed her eagerly out into the oppressive heat and a short distance to a parked mini-van. There was nothing to indicate its supposed function as a taxi but I figured such regulations were less likely to be enforced here.

I was terribly, painfully surprised when a burly man leapt out, grabbed me and bundled me into the back. Before I knew it, there was a bag over my head and my arms were secured behind my back.

What I remember most about that journey was the smell. The bag had previously been used to carry something unpleasant and the residue of whatever it was found its way right inside my nostrils. I was too busy trying not to vomit, and thus make the bag even more disgusting, to feel properly frightened by my predicament.

That came later.

The van drove for what felt like hours, over increasingly rough terrain. I could hear at least two other people breathing but nobody spoke. The air was dry and very hot, the metal sides of the van making the atmosphere stifling.

Eventually, we stopped and someone pushed me out of the van onto stony ground. I was pulled to my feet, with strong hands clamped to my arms on either side, and marched a few feet. I heard what sounded like a metal door opening and I was thrown forwards to the ground again, this time into somewhere darker and slightly cooler.

I felt more hands on me, but these were gentler. They stroked and patted, and were accompanied by soft words of reassurance. When the bag was removed from my head, I looked into sympathetic eyes.

There are four of us in the shack, all women, all travellers from other countries. Sashka has been here the longest; she thinks maybe about two weeks. None of us has been physically abused, which can only be a good sign. I think we are being kept in good condition for whomever our captors plan to sell us to. Whether that will be back to our families, or on to a worse fate, we do not know.

We can only wait to find out.

So much for my grand plans to conquer the world.

I can only hope I don’t end up an international cautionary tale.