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!
I’m not a big fan of spa treatments. It’s all a bit too touchy-feely for me. A decent pedicure is pretty much my limit. Typically, I will only get a spa treatment if I am on holiday or overwhelmed by guilt. The main reason being that unnecessary expenses can always be justified with the tag ‘I’m on holiday’ and also because most touristy places have spas on every corner, advertising their life changing treatments and you get sucked in by it all after awhile. Living in a country which is effectively one big tourist resort messes with my head a bit. As for the guilt, I will get to that shortly.
I visit a spa here for one reason and one reason only: the essential bikini wax. It’s the downside of living by the sea – you need to be bikini ready everyday. Imagine being a porn star and needing to be sex ready all the time, the mind boggles. Finding someone who would wax properly over here was a struggle and a situation that I have had to compromise on. There were trial and error attempts with those who wouldn’t take enough off and those who had no sense of symmetry. Admit it – there is nothing worse or more infuriating than a wonky wax. I finally settled on a woman who, quite valiantly, simply takes the lot off. Like I said, a compromise situation.
But this is where the guilt comes in. Being a beautician is pretty low on my list of jobs I could tolerate doing, but if that is what you enjoy, I commend you. However, I always think that waxing must be the job that every beautician hates the most. I presume they enjoy the rest of it, but they must surely release a deep sigh when they look down their list of appointments and see a wax job in there. Whenever you go for a wax, beauticians always try to up-sell. They constantly tell you about all the other pointless crap they do which is going to change your life and make you feel rejuvenated and born again. So there comes a point when I feel so overwhelmed by guilt that this poor women, month in and month out, waxes my VJ, that I say ‘yes’ and agree to have one of her ‘treatments’. I’m not even Catholic. I shouldn’t give in to guilt, but damn it, every time I fall for it…….and every time I regret it, almost instantaneously.
Last week, in a moment of weakness, I agreed to a massage. It is my opinion that the only person who should massage me is a lover. I really don’t want anyone else to touch me anymore than is absolutely necessary. But, like I said, the guilt makes me commit to stupid things. On this occasion, I convinced myself that at the very least, the oil would smell nice and my back did need some moisturiser, so I really had nothing to lose.
From the first minute, I started to wonder how long it would last – when would it end? I soon realised that I was in for the long haul. She did each leg, she did each arm, she did my back, she did my feet, she did my hands. She kept making happy comments and asking me to confirm how great it was. I was counting seconds, I was counting sheep, I was making lists, anything to take my mind of this horrible experience. I hate being touched. How had I walked into this situation with open eyes? Am I really that thick? Why did I agree to this? She’s a beautician, waxing is her job, you don’t need to punish yourself, she chose her career, maybe she even likes waxing? To make matters worse, the oil did not smell good. It was a familiar smell, but one I couldn’t place. She then poured it in my hair, with the belated question, “Oil in your hair? It’s ok?”. I’m English, so out of my mouth spilled forth the words, “Sure, it’s ok, it’s great!” while inside, I was screaming for the experience to end and fighting the urge to bolt. With the oil now running down my forehead, I could finally place the smell. It smelled like barbecued beef, ergo, I now smelled like barbecued beef. Would this never end?
Finally she stopped and I was free to go. She was all smiles and totally delighted with herself. I was struggling to maintain my fake smile.
“I use special Ayurvedic Indian massage oil, you like?”
“I loved it, it was great!” I replied, while inwardly contemplating the fact that as cows are sacred in Hindu culture, whether this was the reason to have a massage oil that was eau de vache?
“Leave it on for 1 hour and then have a cool shower and you will feel great.”
I never discovered if I would feel great. Coated in beef drippings, I drove home as fast as possible and dove into a steaming hot shower and scrubbed and soaped up until the entire experience was a distant memory, to all but my bank balance.
6 months of guilt-free waxing now lie ahead before my next sensational spa treatment. Hot stones or exfoliating scrub?
I appreciate a thorough investigation. A good ‘ole fashioned puzzler requiring some research and critical analysis is even sorta fun for me. This has been helpful while managing ten condos built in the late 1960’s on a small, secondary island. I’m often required to balance my Sherlock Holmes cap atop all the other hats I don to get the job done. And while I’ve rarely shied away from a challenge attached to a paycheck, solving mechanical and maintenance issues will never be one of my many talents.
Mystery: Why is the water pump running without guests in the building? Answer: Because a leak has gone undetected in a storage closet for weeks.
Mystery: Why did the utility bill triple despite less use of the AC? Answer: Because the water pump ran continually to keep up with the leak.
Mystery: Why do I smell mildew in the entryway of one particular condo? Answer: Because there’s a hole in the roof, and it’s raining on the ceiling tiles.
Last week brought two mysteries. I suspected a common link, but couldn’t be sure.
A strange noise presented itself on a few different occasions. A splatter splat splat pitter pat of liquid hitting my roof, deck, and sometimes the ground behind my cottage. It sounded like Sally, the housekeeper, dumping the mop bucket onto my roof. But she hadn’t done this for several months, ever since I finally got around to telling her that my bedroom ceiling leaked in the exact place she dumped the water. She wouldn’t have been mopping at the time of the splatters anyway.
I hoped it was just the guests above my cottage dumping cooler water from their veranda onto my roof, which then ran onto the deck and behind the cottage.This made the most sense.
It made the most sense, that is, except for my worst fear as property manager: the dreaded sewer backup.
Which brings me to the second mystery of the week.
I had also started to notice, when walking across the deck toward my cottage door, a pissy smell. So there was also a sneaking suspicion that raw sewage was spilling under my deck after every flush due to a burst pipe or something equally unfortunate. This could explain the sporadic splatter splat splat pitter pat that I’d heard on the deck. Maybe it only sounded like it was on the roof. A ventriloquist sound effect. But if it was raw sewage, wouldn’t I be smelling #2 in addition to #1?
It worried me enough to put the mystery sound/smell combo at the top of the next day’s maintenance list. The handyman validated my concern the following morning when, upon reaching the top deck stair, did not offer salutation, but rather asked through my kitchen window, “Why I smellin’ piss?”
He determined that it was cat piss— a tom must be spraying. It wasn’t possible, he assured, for a pipe to have broken in the place I smelled urine. So it must be a cat.
click for photo credit
Since I had definitely caught more than one acrid whiff of cat piss, and since this is not a rare thing to smell on the property, I let it go at that. Although, I must admit that part of me knew I’d also smelled the separate and distinct odor of human piss in the area directly outside my kitchen window. But having many other things to fret over, I de-esclated the sound/smell mystery for the day.
Fortunately, the truth, as it often does, emerged quite organically later that evening. Or, should I say rather, very early the next morning.
I woke up at 2:30 am to splatter splat splat pitter pat on the deck outside my kitchen window. While checking my phone for the time, I saw a text sent just 15 minutes earlier from my across-the-street neighbor. She apologized for bothering me so late, but said there was a guest locked out of his condo making quite a racket trying to get back in. Yelling for Mom and throwing rocks at windows for upwards of 30 minutes, I would later discover.
This didn’t click immediately; the condo she mentioned was currently vacant.
But then I remembered another text received earlier that evening from the guests staying two stories above my cottage. One of the parents asked, on behalf of their 19-year-old son, which bars in Cruz Bay I recommend for a younger crowd. Being a helpful host, I suggested four, and passed along the message to have fun and be safe.
It occurred to me that the teenager must be confused as to which condo is his. While he harassed the empty condo at the top of the stairs in the lower building, his family slept at the top of the stairs in the upper building. I pulled on some clothes and went outside prepared to guide his drunk ass home. Stepping onto my deck, I noticed some fresh puddles on the otherwise dry wood directly below my kitchen window where I’d heard the splatter splat splat that woke me. I bent down and sniffed. Sure enough. Piss.
So then it further occurred to me that the kid must have made it home, seeing as that he had just pissed off of his veranda and onto my deck. Right between my kitchen window and front door, that is. Not only did he just do this while trashed in the middle of the night, he’s been doing it all week during the day. Presumably, in his parents’ presence. Even waving the stream about, it seems, if I’m to trust my ears as regards variety in splatter locale.
This is the splatter splat splat pitter pat noise! This is the piss smell!
Although he’d clearly made it home, I thought to check for good measure. No sooner had I reached the deck stairs when I heard from the kid’s veranda,
I spun around, looking up. He smiled at me and swayed a bit. Involuntarily. Like a skyscraper.
“Yeah, a neighbor just texted me complaining about someone banging on a door.”
“Oh, I had the wrong door at first. I’m sorry. Ashley, I’m really really sorry.”
I pointed my index finger at him in classic scolding fashion.
“Go to bed.”
“I’m so so sorry…”
“Go to bed… Go to bed and stop pissing off of the veranda.”
“I’m so so sorry…”
I walked back to my door, returning every apology with the directive for bed, accenting it with the finger scold.
“Ashley, I’m so so sorry.”
“Go to bed.”
“And stop pissing off of the veranda.”