Flip Flop Flying

Smile, traveller, smile

with 2 comments

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?

Written by Craig

February 3rd, 2008 at 7:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'Smile, traveller, smile'

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  1. I’m Korean, but I was born and raised in LA. I visited this past winter (the last time went was 13 years ago), and let me just say… It’s weird, looking at a sea of black haired heads, and not being able to ask “where is the nearest American book store?” without the use of hand signs, and illustrations on napkins.

    I couldn’t decide what’s worse… sticking out like a sore thumb, or blending in, but not being able to communicate.


    4 Feb 08 at 09:30

  2. tourists tend to be a funny bunch. globus thinks you have a point about the illusion being ruined. we all like to feel like pioneers after all. happy travelling.


    4 Feb 08 at 13:26

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