The 5 Tourists You Will Meet in the Caribbean

The 5 Tourists You Will Meet in the Caribbean

The snake was a sinister black, roughly 7ft in length, and coiled in the corner of our hotel room’s foyer. As I ambled half-asleep towards the bathroom, I spotted it first peripherally, then in full, horrifying focus. Looking back, I admit that the three blood-curdling screams I released in rapid succession, the ones David would later describe as of the “There’s-a-Mass-Murderer-with-a-Chainsaw-in-our-Room” variety, were a tad dramatic. But at the time, all I could think was that when we selected this “luxury boutique hotel” in the “Mexican jungle” I had failed to consider that jungles aren’t solely populated by cheeky monkeys that run on your roof, but more ominous creatures as well. Now here we were. In the jungle. Shit was getting real.

katy-perry-roar-video-scared

On the precipice of hysteria, I made a non-negotiable demand for David not to go near it, citing poison concerns, and made a breathless SOS call to the front desk. The ever professional Oscar, who had just checked in what he had thought to be a chill, normal couple only yesterday, assured this now-crazed woman with the grave calm of an emergency responder, promising to send a crew over to remove the creature immediately.

Within minutes, a trio of no-nonsense Mexican men came trouping into our room, armed with garden tools to corral the intruder. David and I watched in our robes as they nudged it out the door, he, standing like a normal human, and me, curled into a ball on the bathroom countertop like a child who thinks the floor is lava. And in that moment, with the perceived danger removed, I let out a spasm of relieved, embarrassed laughter as I saw us at once through their eyes, reduced to a ridiculous tourist stereotype specific to their locale, Pampered Gringos Who Can’t Hack It in the Jungle. I immediately knew that we would be the subject of scorn at their respective homes over dinner conversation that evening.

Sometimes we’re the locals and sometimes we’re the tourists. And we all know there is nothing quite like the unearned, false sense of superiority that comes with being a local in a sea of tourists. Oh, how we love to mock their unfamiliarity of local customs and foolish, foreign attire. Yet when the tables are turned… oh, how we hope to be seen as the shining individuals of inherent coolness we consider ourselves.

tourists-tourists-everywhere

Because it is here that I am a local and because our tourists arrive in such entertaining droves, I’m excusing myself for a moment from the worthy adult goal of refraining from judgment to instead, engage in a little adolescent tourist mockery. Let’s poke some fun from our glass house, shall we?

Allow me to introduce you to The 5 Tourists You Will Meet in the Caribbean…

 

THE ISLAND GROUPIE

kenny-chesney-vacation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After vacationing in the islands a handful of times, these tourists now consider themselves more local than tourist – the fact that they don’t actually live here (and never have) is a moot point. They spend their lives counting down the days until their next island escape, stalking restaurants and resorts via Facebook. During their visits, they greet the staff of local businesses like long-lost family members, rather than the people who may have served them conch fritters 3 years ago. They make a show of wearing t-shirts from island businesses that have long since bit the dust as irrefutable proof of their past visits, passive-aggressively reminding us all that “they remember when…”

Why We Love Them:

  • They think they know everything, so they don’t ask you as many stupid questions as the tourist newbies.
  • They are die-hard loyalists and if they like you/your business, they’re the best advertising you didn’t have to buy.

Why We Love to Hate Them:

  • They think they know everything. 
  • They shorten your name to display a false sense of familiarity, insisting on calling you Chrissy or Chris, even though no one close to you has called you that before. Ever.

Quotable Quotes:

  • “I used to come here when this place was owned by a pirate!”
  • “Only 243 days, 4 hours, and 23 seconds until I’m back in that hammock again!” (posted to your resort’s Facebook wall – every. damn. day.)

 

THE TOMMY BAHAMA POSTER PEOPLE

Tommy-Bahama tourists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When planning their Caribbean vacation, this genre of tourists appear to have focused less on the activities they look forward to doing and more on the outfits they look forward to wearing. With Tommy Bahama and his wasp-y cousin Ralph Lauren as their muse, the efforts they have put into looking relaxed are almost poetic in their irony. Think white linen pants, pastels, tropical floral patterns, and popped collars. And pink plaid shorts. On men.

Why We Love Them:

  • They tend to be good tippers, because they are wealthy. Don’t their loafers make this obvious? Duh.
  • A high percentage of them are honeymooners. And honeymooners are ebulliently happy as a species and therefore forgiving of island mishaps, of which there are always many.

Why We Love to Hate Them:

  • Popped collars are obnoxious and it takes a great deal of restraint to not engage in aggressive behaviors when in their presence (ie. punching faces).
  • When they ask you to take “a picture” for them, it inevitably turns into a photo shoot, with them hugging a palm tree and you, grimacing through multiple poses.

Quotable Quotes:

  • “What’s the dress code for dinner? Would you say it’s Caribbean casual  or is it more Caribbean elegant?”

 

THE DRUNKEN PARTIERS

drunk partiers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having escaped from the shackles of their suffocating existence in the real world, these people use this annual Caribbean holiday as a balls-to-the-wall excuse to party like it’s 1999 (or, you know, college). They tend to travel in packs and behave like barely recognizable versions of their otherwise responsible selves; if you get them talking, you’ll discover that most have high-stress, high-profile jobs such as lawyers, politicians, doctors, and the like. They came to the Caribbean to fly off the radar – and party like they can never quite get away with back at home.

Why We Love Them:

  • They can be fun as hell to play with, if you’re in the mood.
  • They run up exorbitant bar bills. Cha-ching!

Why We Love to Hate Them:

  • They can be aggravating as hell to be around, if you’re not in the mood.
  • Things get sloppy fast. And kind of cringe-worthy to watch as the hours pass.

Quotable Quotes:

  • “WOOOOOOOOOO!!!! SHOTS!!!!!!”
  • “Let’s get NAKED!!!!!”

 

THE OBSESSIVE SAILOR

captain shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sailing for these people has gone beyond basic hobby and become an almost neurotic fixation in which NO ONE is as passionate about as they are. It’s typically one member of a group chartering a sailboat who you can spot wearing a shirt with some variation of “I’m the Captain” emblazoned across the front, tucked into pleated shorts, and fused with a belt covered in naval navigation flags. His/her insistence of using solely nautical terminology with their crew of friends and family who have no idea what they are referring to is clearly getting on everyone’s nerves.

Why We Love Them:

  • To prove their sailing prowess, they will go out of their way to assist other tourists out on charter, most of whom have no clue what they’re doing because all that was required to rent their boat was a credit card.
  • They are professional and competent on VHF radio.

Why We Love to Hate Them:

  • They can be extremely arrogant, misogynistic, and demanding – basically every unflattering term you’ve ever heard people use to describe an insufferable Captain. 
  • They wage a war against people who powerboat instead of sail, as though the ocean belongs to them alone because they are “greener”, managing to leave out the fact that they’re the ones pumping their waste water into the sea.

Quotable Quotes:

  • “The SE trade winds are projected to be favorable for our crossing in 0500 hours. We cast off at daybreak, at which point I will require all hands on deck.”

 

THE PATAGONIA ADVENTURER

patagonia tourist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately for this traveler, our islands are more drinking challenge than fitness challenge. Where they had pictured mountains to climb and raw, wild nature to trek, they are instead met with beach bars to drink at and hammocks to lounge in. Where everyone else is wearing swimsuits and flip flops, you will spot them in overly practical footwear (the current trend being those disturbingly ape-like neoprene socks that have individual toe slots and grippy soles), camel backpacks of water to stay hydrated, and those zippy pants that turn into shorts (or as we all know them, “shants”).

Why We Love Them:

  • They are ecologically responsible travelers and treat our landscape kindly.
  • They tend to be the most easy-going guests, striving to prove how Zen they are in their adaptability.

Why We Love to Hate Them:

  • They’re often highly critical of how un-eco they deem our islands to be and are full of magical “solutions” to all of our problems after being here for a mere 3 days.
  • They bring their own snacks and “picnic” at the local beach resorts, as though they are national parks, not restaurants.

Quotable Quotes:

  • “Why don’t you have any recycling here? Don’t you people know how easy it is?”
  • “This humidity doesn’t bother me at all. My shirt wicks moisture. And it is made of SPF 100 fabric. It may as well be winter to me.”

– – –

Thanks for humoring me and for letting me get that out of my system. Feel free to mock me mercilessly when the tables turn and I am a tourist in your part of the world. I’ll be the one wearing impractical footwear, doing yoga poses in front of your monuments, and, most likely, butchering your language.

Out of the Mouths of Tourists

Out of the Mouths of Tourists

Disclaimer: My sincere apologies if this offends anyone but please, use some common sense.

Around 50% of the BVI’s economy is obtained from tourism. That’s right – half of this territory’s money comes from those newly-wed, over-fed, really-red, nearly-dead folks from overseas. Those four categories are typically used to describe cruise ship passengers, but we mustn’t forget the various corporate Vice-Presidents, CEOs, doctors, and other well-placed members of society who grace our shores and our offshores with their presence and put bread on the Government’s table. Those of us who have been here for a long time have taken to grouping all visitors of a certain genus into one subcategory of fauna that we call Tourons.

The word touron is a completely fictitious noun and serves to combine the words “tourist” and “moron” into a jovial juxtaposition of jargon. In terms of expression, it can be used with the same tone of disdain as when using “moron” when witnessing someone doing something idiotic from a distance. Hence, the definition of touron is: a tourist doing (or saying) something idiotic. Sadly, this is most often right under our noses, rather than from at a distance.

While we may still shake our heads, we have long ago forgiven them for their “Caribbean holiday outfits” that they have so carefully chosen for their trip. Hawaiian shirts, socks worn with sandals and pulled up to the knees, fanny packs, bee-keeper type hats, and a raging sunburn are no longer causes for surprise. They’ve given in to the various Caribbean stereotypes acquired subconsciously over time via television shows, advertisements, and movies, and show up looking like weatherman Joey Stevens. All that’s missing is the puppet parrot on their right arm. But it’s fine. They thought this was the Caribbean norm. They thought it was quirky and fun. They didn’t know any better.

Complete and utter ignorance as described above is laughable, and just about forgivable. It’s when some tourists arrive, decidedly devoid of common sense, that we tend to start muttering “touron” under our breath. It’s as though, when faced with the issue of overweight baggage, they decided that removing their brains and leaving them at home would allow more carry-on room for their jelly shoes and zinc. That’s about 8lbs right there, and besides, I won’t be needing this in the blissful waters of the BVI, right?  Wrong. Showing up here without your noggin is far from forgivable…it’s downright inexcusable.

Upon experiencing the words and actions of a touron, stunned silence, widened eyes, raised eyebrows, uncontrollable bursts of laughter, a face-palm or pursed lips (and schtupsing) usually ensue. In hindsight, however annoying they may be at the time, all of them are downright hilarious. I’ve compiled a few of these incidences below, which I have either experienced myself or which have been shared with me by friends and family.

 

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO… HUH?

 

  • Walking in the middle of the road.

Ok, not a huge deal, but…why? It’s clearly a road. There are two lanes, with cars going up and down it in either direction. Would you walk in the middle of the road at home? No. I rest my case.

  • Walking around town in a bikini/with their shirt off.

Again…why?! Surely not something that’s encouraged upon the shores of home. I can only assume that this stems from the stereotypical view of “No Shirt. No Shoes. No Problem.” Well, guess what: no shirt? No shoes? Big problem. Walking around half naked for all the world to see is considered culturally offensive in the BVI. You can’t blame the heat either…if I can survive in a work blouse and trousers, you can handle it. Put your Hawaiian shirt back on!

  •  Referring to the locals as “indigenous.”

?!?! Really, I have no words for this one.

  •  When asked to provide picture ID with their online credit card purchase: taking a selfie with their computer webcam and emailing it through.

Hmm looks like sometimes their brain is stored away before they even board the plane.

  •  Asking how long it’s going to take them to get back to the ship from where they are…when they can see the ship, big and bright as day from where they are.

You’d be surprised how often this happens.

SAY WHAT?

Yes, people really said or asked these things.

 

  •  “How do you keep the islands from floating away?”

Magic. We’re not quite sure but it has something to do with mermaids and giant anchors.

  •  “What do you do with the islands in hurricane season? Do you have to tie them down?”

See above. They work overtime.

  •  “How long do you think it would take me to swim under the island?” [Blank stare.] “I’m not stupid; I know I couldn’t do it all in one breath, but hypothetically, how long do you think it would take?”

Why don’t you give it a try and find out? We’ll give the mermaids a heads up on your arrival.

  •  A lady’s response when she was asked why she was carrying multiple small vials with her: “I want to collect the different shades of blue in the ocean.”

Good luck with that.

  •  When sitting on board a sailboat in BVI waters: “What’s the altitude here?”

Seriously? You’re sitting on a boat. On the ocean. You know, the sea?

  •  Having met a crew member on a cruise ship in the middle of a stairwell: “Excuse me, Miss, do these stairs go up or down?”

Erm…what?

  •  How many sunsets do you have?

Just the one. Everyday. About the same time. You see, the Earth revolves around the…oh, never mind.

  •  What are those weird dark patches moving over the mountains?

It’s that same deadly fog that’s in Lost. Yeah, we’re going to be stuck out here for a while. Or at least until the clouds move…

  • After using the head (toilet) on a sailboat: “The colour of the ocean is so blue you can even see it in the toilet bowl!”

It’s fucking Fabuloso.

And on and on it goes. It’s quite scary to think that these types of people are responsible for half of our economy.

Some of these questions are posed by more than one set of tourons (perhaps they go to conventions, or interbreed), but you can guarantee that by the end of the tourist season each year there are a slew of new touron-isms being relayed to us year-rounders for our audible pleasure.

Many of the stories make us laugh so much our bellies ache. All of them make us shake our heads and mutter: “tourons.”

Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments!

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