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.
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?”
- 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!