The 5 Tourists You Will Meet in the Caribbean

Written by: Chrissann

 

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.

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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.

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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

*click for image creditAfter 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

*click for image creditWhen 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

*click for image creditHaving 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

*click for image creditSailing 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

*click for image creditUnfortunately 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.

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