On a trip to Spain to visit ancient Roman sites (because I'm a big history geek), I stopped in the town of Caratagena. I'd traveled south from Barcelona to Tarragona, then on to Valencia, and finally Cartagena. After leaving the train station, I blundered out into the city, only to find that this city had no street signs posted anywhere. After an hour of dogged wandering and asking for directions in Spanglish, I finally found my hotel.

     As you probably haven't been, Cartagena has a distinctly Muslim presence and influence to its culture and architecture, as it fell under Muslim control after the fall of Rome. Not that I felt threatened, per se; every person I met was kind and helpful. I still felt like the whitest person in the city though. One day, during siesta hour, I decided to venture out into the city so I could see it without the usual crowds, and I was rewarded with a spectacular unobstructed view. As I wandered down a wide, empty street in the hot midday sun, looking like a typical tourist, I smiled, looking around to wonder at the tall buildings on either side of the street. Then I heard it.

     Someone was whistling a catcall at me. I'm gonna die.

     I felt alone, vulnerable, and helpless. My eyes darted around, scanning from window to window, searching for my potential assailant, feeling my heart pounding, my stomach wrenching, my brain spinning.

     I heard another catcall, low and slow.

     I was nearing panic. No one was on the street, not a soul. The hot cobblestones seemed to be baking me, along with the rising fear threatening to overwhelm my senses. Then I heard a different sound altogether.

     Caw-caw! went the parrot.