A few days ago I mentioned the friendliness of everyone in Punta Gorda. That is a tiny exaggeration. There are young men and boys, young women and girls who don’t say hello or wave, but that can be put down to the cool, aloof, surliness of youth. There are some older (mainly Mayan) women who don’t acknowledge me, either. But if there’s one specific group of people who won’t make any effort to show friendliness, it’s people just like me.
Young (18-40) Westerners who are here doing what I’m doing: either travelling around or specifically visiting southern Belize. We see each other’s white face and our hand stay un-waving, our mouths stay closed and un-smiling. I wonder why this is. Is it a two-way thing? I think not. I’m not the world’s greatest of smilers, but since I’ve been here, the friendliness has made me aware that I should be friendly back and I do try and make eye contact and turn the corners of my mouth upwards. But I get nothing in return. Is it just me?
Or is it, as I suspect, and as I suspected when I was in a small town in southern Mexico a couple of years back, that the presence of another white European or North American backpacking doofus ruins our illusion that we are discovering a beautiful central American place all my ourselves? Our illusion that we are somehow not “tourists”? We may be doing something that is a big event for us, but, really, there’s so many people doing this right now, today, tomorrow, next week, every week; it’s not really that big a deal. It’s just a few hours of comfortable flying away.
But maybe I’m over-analysing it. Maybe they all see my face and think, what the fuck are you looking at, four-eyes?