We found ourselves on the beach in Barranco last night, drinking Cuzquenas and listening to Jeff and Christian, our two new musician friends, try to sing the English words to Pearl Jam and Nirvana (I seriously think they thought we'd feel "right at home" with them playing their entire grunge repertoire. We kept requesting Jay Z and Justin, but they ignored us and stuck with Alice in Chains). Now these two guys are nice individuals, but not nice enough for Marlo to let Christian rest his head on her shoulder and keep his arm around her waist the whole night (we're ice queens, we know). We were sitting three in a row when we first got to shore, and I looked over half an hour later and poor Marlo had scooted, inch by inch, towards the water. Christian hadn't gotten the hint and had followed her, scoot by scoot.
It got to the point where we just had to abort the entire mission and head home. During our nightly pillow talk, we rehashed the situation: Marlo was smothered by an overly affectionate, clueless musician while I dealt with the diva-esque sensibilities of his friend, who was upset that we weren't going salsa dancing and tried to coerce us to go by being emotionally manipulative. Overall, a great way to end a night! But unlike at home, where we would have told the guys to scram and they would have understood why, we were dealing with the biggest gender-relations difference between the Americas.
In North America, guys will refrain from affection until they specifically are told YES. In South America, guys will be as affectionate as possible until they are specifically told NO. Which means that nights like last night will keep happening until we learn how to lose our passive-aggressive Seattlite personalities and start being more clear with our dislike of premature physical contact.