It appears as though I am living in a different era. The men here are not so chauvanistic as, perhaps, they were in earlier years. Nevertheless…
A man is strong. He is viewed as the head of his household, and families want sons to carry on their name. When the instructors sent us all over the city, they sent us in groups of three with at least one male. This is because it is assumed in Costa Rican culture that if one man tries to harm another man’s “woman”, the second will defend the woman’s honor. It’s not so much chauvanistic as it is chivalrous. Also, in groups of two, people assume couples, so herein lies the saying, “Three’s company”. In groups of three, it wasn’t as though the women were traveling by themselves, and it wasn’t as though a group was a couple. Also, the male (as I said before) provided a “security” for the females, to keep us free from persistent vendors, or dirty old men.
My mom always taught me that young women are always accompanied/chaperoned. At the time, I thought it was an antique idea, wrought by shriveled old people who just wanted to give advice to other people free of charge (sorry Mom). I understand better now. It is a statement of belonging, yes, but of unity. It is a security. And here, as a young woman, I need it. This is why I’m glad that Peter is my “travel buddy”. It’s because he’s a male. At least when it’s nighttime and we’re returning from classes, I know my chances of getting mugged or worse are very slim.
I’ll probably update this later as I find more things to write about.