I want someone to hear my story. I don’t know who, I don’t know how, but I want my story told.
I had been traveling for six months throughout South and Central America. I created many beautiful memories and made lifelong friends along the way. I preached how safe and wonderful traveling as a solo female traveler was. That was, until the final week of my travels.
During the last month of my travel I had befriended four guys and one other girl. All of us solo travelers who found each other one way or another. We traveled north through Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua together. In Nicaragua, we decided to take an hour long ferry ride to the remote island of Ometepe. We found what seemed like a safe and beautiful hostel along the water, Hacienda Marida, and decided to spend two nights there. The staff seemed friendly enough and there were apparently two security guards who patrolled the grounds at night. Both days here my friends and I went on long hikes, leaving me personally exhausted early in the evening. The first night went well, and then on the second night, my nightmare occurred.
I went to bed before my friends, around 9:30pm. I was wearing yoga shorts that fit snuggly but had room to stretch and move around in, a light dress I often slept in and no bra. There were two sets of bunk beds. The two guys slept on the bottom bunks while the other girl, Jessie, and I were each in a top bunk. I always sleep with earplugs when traveling and this specific room had 3 loud fans, so I was dead to the world as far as sound went. My friends returned around 10:30pm and as they showered, went through their bags and got ready for bed – I didn’t hear a thing.
I remember having a dream about going back to Michigan and furniture shopping to fill my new apartment. As I was dreaming I felt my bed shake, quite violently. As I started to come to I thought it was an earthquake but quickly dismissed that, because this island didn’t seem like a place for an earthquake to occur. Then I realized I felt something touching me: A forceful, circular motion was being pressed against me… Inside me. At this moment my eyes flew open, but the room was completely dark. There are no lights in this hostel at night and the door faces the outside, which was also pitch black at the time. As my consciences came clear I was hit with a horrifying realization.
There is a man fingering me.
The realization threw me into a state of panic and I froze. The only men who knew where I was, were the two men I was traveling with in my room. I thought I could trust them, but in this moment I doubted everything. I didn’t want to scream for help, because the only help around were the guys, and this could be them. What if the man had a knife? His fingers were already inside me. What if I screamed and he caused even more pain? All of these thoughts flew through my mind within seconds. I threw my hand in between my legs, hoping there would be nothing there and this was all part of some hideous nightmare. But it was not. My hand grabbed a hand. A large, strong, rough hand. As soon as I grabbed him, his hand slinked away into the darkness. I heard the door to my room open and shut. I laid there in shock. What if he hadn’t left and as I got out of my bed he grabbed me? I waited almost a minute before jumping from my bed and throwing on the lights. I stood against the door and scanned the other beds. All my friends seemed dead asleep. They woke as the light came on I went to my friends bed, the taller of the two, the only one who could have easily reached me in the top bunk and when I realized he was clearly just waking up, I cried, “It wasn’t you?” Because in that moment, I had a twisted hope that it had been him. At least I would know who it had been and could maybe justify it somehow. But it wasn’t. My attacker was a stranger.
Jessie told me to get into her bed while the guys went outside with flashlights but didn’t see anyone. They also never ran into any security guards.
I was unable to sleep the rest of the night. We kept the lights on. But every movement of the mosquito net, every sound I heard through me into another panic. I left my room once the sun started to rise with my computer and sat outside, searching for WiFi where I could contact my friend. As I sat there a female worker came up to me, with my wallet. She said it had been found upstairs outside a dorm room. I opened it up. All my documents and cards were there, but $400 was missing. I started to put two and two together and realized that not only was I sexually assaulted, but we had been robbed.
It ended up several people had been robbed that night, but our room was the last and that is when he decided to add some demonic fun to his evening. The Nicaraguan cops are awful and likely just as corrupt as the man who sexually assaulted me. After waiting 15 hours in my clothes I finally decided to leave and not pursue a medical examination since this would take another 6 hours of waiting, forcing me to stay on the island another night.
This incident happened only two days ago. I am still shaking and terrified. I don’t know what to do. I bought a ticket home as soon as I could and am currently on my way to the states now.
— Melissa, age 25