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As in many South American countries, there still exists a certain level of the machista culture in Guatemala. The best way to deal with catcalls, car horns and lingering stares is to ignore them. While sometimes it may be difficult, they usually don’t mean any harm and tend not to bother continuing with their comments once they’re ignored. If someone gets too close or gropes you – scare them off by shouting and causing a bit of a scene, perverts generally don’t like being exposed as such in public. Dress demurely, particularly in the less touristy parts of the country. Shorts are best kept for the beach, skirts to the knee and necklines not too low. Women traveling alone should avoid traveling between destinations at night. Attacks or assaults on women aren’t necessarily commonplace but they have been known to happen. Try and sit beside women or children on the bus if it makes you feel more comfortable. Past rumors of westerners kidnapping Guatemalan children have thankfully died down, but still be conscious of appearing too interested in indigenous children. Take a taxi after dark and, if possible, try and share a taxi back to where you’re staying. Along the coast, you may notice some locals wearing t-shirts over their bathing suits when they’re swimming-sometimes it’s no harm to follow suit. Also, be aware of how going to a bar alone might appear if you are not particularly interested in getting to know some locals. Don’t hitch-hike and if you feel a bit vulnerable traveling alone around some of the more remote areas, inquire with the nearest tourist office about hiring a guide.

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29 Jul 2010

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