Archive for September 2011

Living in A “Machista” Culture – Things I am Learning   1 comment

Many people describe the part of this part of Latin America as a “machista” culture. I readily admit, understanding what this means, and how I fit in, is a work in progress. For example, I still have trouble with women cleaning public restrooms, while I am taking care of business. It was explained to me that cleaning toilets is women’s work. No self-respecting man would do it. My female friends say this is a “machismo” culture because men are un faithful, do not take care of them and spend too much time in the streets. The “machista” dynamic is also evidenced by the fact that men do not give up their seats to women on public buses. In fact they rush to sit down paying no attention to the women around them. One day, while riding the bus here in Barranquilla, my girlfriend hid her face while I chastised a father for encouraging his young son to sit in a seat reserved for disabled, elderly and/or women with babies while an elderly woman stood just three feet away. Ufff!!!

But one of the most glaring attacks to my consciousness is the significant number of women who are caring for children without economic or emotional support from the men responsible for their children’s birth. The father of my girlfriend’s child is a doctor. He gives her no money to care for their daughter. He never sees his daughter. He never calls his daughter. And by her account he has perhaps two other children who are suffering from the same level of abandonment. The tough thing for me to deal with is that this is more the norm than the exception.

What I am finding are lots of women looking for someone to either take care of, or do things for, them and their children. A few months ago I was introduced by a friend to a young lady who said had interest in me. Though I believed that this woman was too young for me, I thought that we could be friends. I had a lunch party, and invited them all, including her mother and son, to join me. We all had a nice time. Before leaving this young lady made it known that she wanted me to loan her the money to buy her a laptop computer. She assured me that I was special in her life and that repaying me would be a high priority for her. During my brief time here I also have been asked to: buy someone’s child shoes; pay for a mother’s medical visit; loan money; pay for someone’s hair appointment; buy medicine; buy food; and to pay tuition. I have also been robbed by a woman who, along with her son, I befriended.

One could say that these things have come to pass quite simply as a result of women trying to take advantage of a North American who has more than they do. But I think it goes way deeper than that. What complicates this simplistic view, at least for me, is that: women earn significantly less for doing the same jobs; most do not aggressively pursue economic support from the fathers of their children; they often have grown-up in households with strict rules about gender roles; because of internal conflicts, low job rates, and homosexuality, there are way less marriage eligible men available to them; and the views of the Catholic Church on relationships and contraception have a vice like gripe on the culture’s values and women’s behaviors. All of this perhaps would not be so bad if this combination of social, religious and political dynamics did not have significant numbers of women scuffling in all manners of ways to pay rent, keep the utilities on, pay for clothing, buy food and care for their children.

A number of years ago, Warren Buffet coined the phrase “the great ovarian lottery.” His belief was that his great fortune resulted from the random phenomenon of the time and place of his birth. Though I grew up poor in West Virginia, I have no memory of going without a meal, unless it was by my own choice. I am not sure how I would make it if I were born in the outskirts of Managua or in a pueblito outside of Pereria, female and poor. What would my life be like if I had grown up in a household where my father either abandoned me or paid too much attention to my well-developed body? What would my life be like if education was not a real option? What would be my chances for survival, happiness or wealth? I am blessed to have been born during the civil rights era in the United States of America – one of the wealthiest countries in the world – during a time where America’s guilt and the world’s view of our racist society collided to create opportunities for me to be educated and advance.

Because of the path I have traveled, I cannot simply say it is people, women, trying to take advantage. For me one of the vestiges of this “machista” culture, like the vestiges of a racist culture, is the day-to-day struggle that is the life of many women and children. Perhaps it would not be so bad if the dependence on men to take care of things was not being undermined by the men who only take of themselves. Certainly, this is not the story of all men here. There are great fathers. There are great husbands here also. However, they also are undermined by the men who have learned how, and are accustomed to, having their cake and eating it too.

My heart aches for those that worry about from where their next meal will come. My brain does not get how a person working ten hours a day making $6000 a year while caring for one to two children seeks to make it without any economic and emotional support from their ex-boyfriend or ex-spouse. Families are the safety net. People pitch-in to care for each other. Fortunately, in both Costa Rica and Colombia, banks and the government are making homes more available to more people. Unfortunately, neither country has a real system for educating and training the poor. And the growing economies in both countries still have not figured out ways to level the playing field for women and children. That is the sadness I feel here in this place. There are millions of children in poverty. For me one of the reasons is that the “machista” culture reinforces that it is the man’s right to not take care of his children. A right that is reinforced by women who have learned that taking care of children is their responsibility. And their responsibility alone!

Posted September 29, 2011 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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Looking for Love Online: A Latin Woman’s Experience   Leave a comment

International online dating has exploded.  Cupid Media, itself, claims more than 20 million customers.  Yet there are few protections for users.  Savvy adventurers make promises and use economic disparity to their advantage.  Those with hopes that their lives will be made better by what they cannot find in their own country are left, often alone, to navigate the gulf between their dreams and reality.

In 2005, the United States government adopted The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (Subtitle D of Title VIII (Sec.831-834) of United States Public Law 109-162),[1], or IMBRA, requiring background checks for all marriage visa sponsors and limits serial visa applications. The law also requires background checks for consenting adults who wish to communicate when using an international pen pal service. The impetus for its introduction was two cases (including the Susanna Blackwell case in 1995 and the Anastasia King case in 2000) in which foreign women had been abused and eventually murdered by men who had used a K-1 fiancée visa issued by the US State Department to bring them to the United States.

Yet, aside from obvious abusers, the online dating industry is immune from such regulation and interactions between users are whatever they deem these interactions to be.  Furthermore, there is neither a handbook nor orientation for managing differences in culture, education, morals, societal norms, religion, value systems, economic isparity or power imbalances.  Online dating has become a reality in relationship formation in today’s world.  The attached link continues the series “Looking For Love (or Whatever) In Latin America.” Mi amiga, I have removed her name, and I met online almost three years ago. Though we have actually never met we have had conversations, given each other advice and become social media friends. What follows is the translation of a discussion we had on her online dating experiences.

When did you start looking for a friend or boyfriend online?
Mi Amiga – Three years ago

What sites do you use?
Mi Amiga – ColombianCupid, LatinAmericanCupid, Cybercupido and La Casa Del Amor. But I am not active on the last two. I like LatinAmericaCupid the best because I have found very good friends on that site. But I have not found my true love.

What advice would you give others that want to look for love or friends online?
Mi Amiga: I would say that there are many things to look out for. There are many men just looking for sex and many women looking for easy money. There are not many people that are looking for real love. It is a place where many people are looking to satisfy their own interests. Sometimes you will find ugly men, without taste, without teeth but they send money. And that is what is important.

Tell me about some of your experiences meeting or talking to men online
Mi Amiga: The first person I met on LatinAmericanCupid we talked all day and at night for three months. Later he came to visit me. But he was not just here (in Colombia) to visit me. He had plans to travel to various cities. Medellin, Santa Marta and Barranquilla but first he came to Cali. We were very happy. We went out to dinner and to have sex in his hotel. But later I saw what he had, in his suitcase, lots of condoms (she laughs at this point). It was obvious that he was not going to use all of them with me. He was here for five days. Always with me! I thought that all was progressing well. The last day, at the airport, he said that I was not going to be the woman he was looking for. He said thanks for the attention but that he was going to continue looking…. I have not heard anything more from him.

Another guy I met, we talked every day. He is a nice guy but he has some self-esteem problems. He is fat. He asked me to marry him (she had not met him face to face) and I had hopes. But he likes to have his woman under lock and key, behind closed doors. We talked more. He told me that he had problems driving because of the pain he often felt in his head. I felt afraid to continue. So I preferred to not talk with him further. In reality online many offer marriage. Because of this I don’t believe nothing or in anyone. But Wayne this was a serious situation. He bought bicycles for my sons. He said that I would have no money problems (if I married him). He would send me money. He would get me a Visa. I would have a house in my name and I would have no problems. But these things they have prices.

I also met an ex-baseball player. Very famous in Baltimore. He played for the Orioles. He said every minute that he loved me. All of his family knew me. He would call and I would talk with his sister, mother and his child. We talked liked this for seven beautiful months. I changed many things in my life during this time. I only had time for him. I did not talk with any of my friends. No men. I did not go out. I did not connect to my Hotmail. I would only talk on Skype with him. If he called at 3:00 a.m. to say I love you I would enter MSN to talk with him. I loved him a lot. And my sons and parents were also happy for me. He came to Cali to visit me. We met happily at the airport. We kissed a lot. He came to my house first to say hello to my family. His kisses were beautiful. He said he wanted to make love a lot with me. I was planning this before. So we went to his hotel. And nothing happened. I do not know why. He could not do anything (get it up). Later he apologized because he is gay. Later he disappeared and changed his hotel. Later i saw him in the mal with other women. A friend of mine, that knows him, had told me that he had another woman in Brazil. And the same thing happened to her. He could not make love to he either. So, I confronted him about this. And he said yes, it is true. So, here I am with this tall well-built former baseball player that could not make love. Caramba, at least he did not lie to me.

I also met a guy from Cuba on ColombianCupid. He was a very good friend. I could tell him my problems and he would always want to help. But later he said that he wanted to have sex on the internet. He wanted me to show him my breasts. And he wanted me to masturbate for him. He would always call for me to do this. Then I said no, I did not want him to be my friend anymore (she laughs).

The last guy on the list came to Cali. I also met him on Colombia Cupid. He has business here. Over the past three years we only talked a little. He would always talk about his children. But for my birthday he was here and invited me to go to dinner. Later we went to a disco. We spent three days together. We went to dinner, lunch and to walk ne the malls. On his last day here we had sex. It was delicious (she laughs). We continued talking afterwards. But later he started to tell me about his desires to experiment with some things with me. He said he would give me money if I would have anal sex with him. I will not do that. I told him I was not a prostitute. He is very handsome. A gentleman. Very intelligent. But he is not a man to make commitments. He did not want to have a serious relationship.

Sometimes do you have sex on camera for men? Masturbate or show yourself naked?
Mi amiga: Yes, various times. With the guy from Cuba and with a guy from California.

How do you feel when you have sex for others on camera?
Mi Amiga: Very nice. There are times that I have done it without effort. With pleasure for the person that was watching. I like to feel desired. I like to feel that another is attracted to me.

Do you have more that you want to say?
Mi Amiga: Yes, this is an experience. I have not been online in a while. I have not found anyone important to me. Now I have a beautiful relationship with a much older man that worries about me. He lives here. He is interested in my life and makes me laugh. I hope whatever I have said helps.

Posted September 19, 2011 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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Six Tips for Successfully Using International Online Dating Sites: Part 2   Leave a comment

I have been asked, what are some of the online international sites that I have found to be the best? I did not want anyone to think that I was on the take.  But my marketing guru said it was Ok.  I am a fan of the Latin American and Colombia Cupid sites.  They provide access to photos and their members profiles prior to a person paying a dime.  Therefore you get a sense of what you are paying for before paying.  With their format you can express interest in people, getting a sense of whether they are interested in you.  With a paid membership you can send email messages to people you are interested in to their site mail boxes.  There is no per message fee.  They also offer real time chat through their instant message feature.  Their search engines allow a person to narrow the people in whom you have interest.  Owned by the Cupid Media Group (Australia) these two sites are among over thirty in the company’s portfolio.  Their sites provide people who desire relationships based on ethnicity, religion, physical appearance, special interests or sexual
preferences with the opportunity to meet the people they desire.  Their press says they have over 20 million people throughout the world that use their websites.  True or not, I found lots of women on these sites from which to choose.  I also like the fact they respond to complaints and do not hesitate to pull profiles that do not meet their rules.  But even the best of sites can’t police everything that occurs, especially after the people have agreed to meet off-line or in other on-line venues.   Whatever happens, happens!  So, be careful – always. 

Know what you don’t want

Online dating sites, or should I say the internet, somehow gives people permission to do, and say, things they perhaps would not do with people they hardly know, face to face.  Pretty faces, promises, online sex shows and people soliciting money, drugs and more all are at the end of a click.  And in spite of disclaimers and warnings, like “DO NOT SEND MONEY” people do.  They hear, I really want to take English to better my life. Or my mother/daughter/son needs to go to the doctor and in a flash, money is on its way.  They are some willing to trade their beauty and youth for a better life.  And it works, at least for some.  An amiga in Cali told me of her friend in Cartagena that was very clear about her desire for someone to support her, if they wanted to be with her.  She ultimately found someone to do so and now is married to him, living in the USA with their two children.  Clearly, if the story is true, this guy knew what he wanted and was willing to do what he had to get her.  Perhaps that is the lesson for the serious seeker.   I have had 28 year olds tell me how interested they are in getting to know me.  Please, I’m 61.  Even if she was looking for a serious relationship, I cannot even begin to imagine being with someone 33 years my
junior.  A 28 year old “hottie” may be great for the ego but I am neither secure enough to always wonder what she is doing with me.  Nor do I have enough money to hold her interest, if that is where her head is at.  My advice for the person looking for a serious relationship is know what you want, take your time and be willing to do what it takes to get it.

You have to go there

Getting to know people online is like learning how to bake a cake by reading a recipe.  You have to get the experience.  That is why focusing on a specific part of the world makes sense.  If you are looking for a serious relationship then look in a place that you know you will visit within the year or in a place where you know people from there will come to visit you.  Why get to know a person in Indonesia if you are in Columbus, Ohio if you don’t have enough money to travel there or bring them to you.  When you do visit, plan to be there for at least a week, if not two.  But a month would be better.  Take time to get to know more than one person.  Have a list of questions that you are going to ask everyone.  If you have been talking to someone for a while, they probably will not want you to meet other people.  Don’t give in.  Even if you think you have found that special one, remember you met them online.  You do not really know them.  If your relationship is the “one” it will withstand your making sure by meeting other people.  And even if you think you know them, always meet in public places.  If there is an offer to come to the airport know that agreeing may be taken as a signal that this is your girl(boy)friend, particularly if they bring their family with them.  If you let this happen, pay their taxi or bus fare.  Never accept a car ride from someone you do not know.  This includes the person that you have been talking with for months.  Get a cab. If you are a man, always be prepared to pay.  But never let them bring people to a first meeting that you do not know are going to be there.  This is a known scam in some countries.  Your date will show up with their family, cousin or whoever and you get stuck with the bill, after they have ordered the most expensive thing on the menu, never to see them again.  Simply say “I am uncomfortable with this situation, I need to leave.”  And do it.

Even your first trip will not be sufficient to know if you have found the one.  Resist the temptation to make a heart or lust decision on your first trip.  Most people I know that have developed serious lifelong commitments have visited their girl(boy)friend many times before deciding they were the one.  Take your time, narrow your list, and return as many times as it takes to find the person you want.  An investment of time, and money, upfront may save thousands and heartache later.

Look for friends, if something else happens so be it

It is said that all great relationships begin with friendship.  If you are serious about finding a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse, then resist the temptation to fall in love with the first pretty face that wants you.  It may even be easy to have someone in your bed on the first date.  Rules, norms and values that govern what having sex means vary from culture to culture.  So it is really important that if this is a sexcapade for you be honest, with yourself and them.  It may also just be an adventure for them.  So, you may find yourself thinking that this is love when it is just a way for them to get into your pants or pocket.  Do not think that you are the badest cat on the block.  Everyone can be had.  If your travel must end with you having sex with somebody, perhaps it is just adventure you seek.  If that is the case, again be honest.  You will find enough people willing to play and not hurt those that are serious.  So, again, be clear.  If you are seeking a long term relationships, and your values call into question the person that gives it up on the first or second date, then move on.  There are other choices.  And it may be best to cut your losses early than to find yourself in a relationship that began with something other than friendship.

Yes, there are horror stories, where people have been taken for their hearts, their money, their bodies and worse.  There are also success stories.  People have met online, moved from one country to another and are living happily ever after.  It can work.  It worked for me.  Bueno suerte y que Dios acompane ti en tu camino siempre!

Posted September 8, 2011 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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