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10 Tips to Not Get Treated Like a Tourist

29 Nov

West Bay Beach

From the moment you arrive to the glorious Island of Roatan surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, with white sand beaches, and lush jungle flora & fauna extending to the highest ridges, if you look and act like a tourist—you will get treated like one.

Admittedly even though I’ve lived on Roatan for more than three years, I still on occasion get mistaken for a tourist solely based on the fact that I obviously wasn’t born here. But for the most part I don’t get approached with insistent offers of souvenirs or a tour of the Island anymore. Now, there is nothing wrong with being a tourist. But there is a whole new facet that can be added to your visit to Roatan if you blend in a little bit. The following 10 tips helped me out. I’m sure they’ll work for you too!

1. Do not wear anything made of synthetic fibres
A dead giveaway! Not only did I stand-out, I was unbearably uncomfortable wearing a non-breathable fabric. This of course doesn’t apply to my swimwear, which is an assemblage of manmade fabrics designed to keep everything where it belongs—you know what I mean.

2. Do not wear new un-scuffed running shoes
…especially with knee socks! And at all cost avoid wearing sandals with socks…especially knee socks. Personally, I was a flip-flop’s only no socks of any sort kinda gal even before I moved to Roatan (which was no easy feat in the wintertime where I’m from.) I had no choice but to wear what the weather dictated. In-turn, if you are planning on doing a canopy tour or going hiking on Roatan do wear appropriate footwear with socks…just not knee socks.

3. No t-shirts with:
Mickey or Minnie Mouse, or the name of another Caribbean Island printed on it. I had visited many Caribbean Islands before moving to Roatan and always got the t-shirt. But wearing those t-shirts on Roatan is like working for Coca-Cola and wearing something with a Pepsi logo on it…not cool. And as for Mickey or Minnie Mouse—Roatan isn’t Disney World—it’s better!

4. Dress for the weather
If the temperature is below 24C (75F) wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt. That’s downright cold for those of us that live here and have become acclimatized. I used to be able to deal with temperatures below freezing for a few months every year. Now, just holding a glass with ice in it makes me cold.

5. Minimal (if any) precious metal and gemstone jewellery*
The golden rays of sun by far outshine anything I could adorn myself with. The sparkle glistening on the shimmering Caribbean Sea can’t be matched. I quit trying to compete.

6. No big fat wallet jammed in your back pocket or purse*
I carry only the ID I need, with cash (US Dollars or Lempiras) tucked away in various pockets. My Sear’s Card, Zeller’s point’s card, and Blockbuster card (to name just a few) are of no use here.

*These two points are not to scare you into thinking you will be attacked for your worldly possessions when you visit Roatan. Just as anywhere in the world you are, even your own neighbourhood for that matter. The more you look like you have something of monetary value to be relieved of—the more likely it is to happen.

7. Avoid sunburn lines at all cost
I fell asleep while lounging on the dock one afternoon, oh the sunburn I got. For the next few days (until the red tomato tinge of my skin settled down) I was teased relentlessly by friends on Roatan asking me why I was trying to look like a tourist. The flip side to that is if you are too pale. Now, I appreciate there isn’t much you can do to rectify that one until you spend some time here, just be sure to use sunscreen and ease into a healthy glow.

8. Minimal (if any) make-up
Natural beauty shines through (see #7 re: healthy glow.) Besides, make-up just runs down my face. The mascara and eyeliner that was intended to accentuate my eyes started to spread, giving me the appearance of a raccoon. Racoons are cute, but definitely not the look I’m going for.

9. Order a local beer like you know what you’re doing
The funny thing about this one is I’m not a beer drinker. But I did learn how a beer is ordered distinguishes a resident from a tourist.
• Salva Vida, ask for a Salva or “a Brown”—which is referring to the colour of the bottle
• Port Royal ask for a Port or “a Green”—same as above
• Imperial is what you ask for if the bar is out of Salva or Port
• Barena is just called Barena. Note: Salva drinkers will tease you about drinking Barena. But if you are partial to a beer similar to Corona this is the one you want to order.

And if you order a glass of wine (red or white) don’t look surprised when it is poured from a box not a bottle. I have become a boxed wine connoisseur.

10. Don’t check your watch every few minutes
I’m on Island time now. I don’t even wear a watch anymore. I do appreciate that as a visitor you are on a set schedule. But as hard as it may be to resist, repeatedly checking your watch is an absolute give-away that you are a tourist from a cruiseship! I mean, really would it be so bad if the boat left without you and you had to stick around Roatan for a little while longer. Perhaps it’s the Roatan Vortex pulling you in!

And for all of you Texans out there! I’m coming to visit your fine State this weekend and staying through Christmas. Got any tips for me? I’d love to hear from you!

This story can also be found at Honduras Weekly retitled “10 Tips to Avoid Being Mistaken for a Tourist.”

15 Responses to “10 Tips to Not Get Treated Like a Tourist”

  1. robert 30. Nov, 2010 at 3:52 am #

    you forgot to mention, ” don’t stand around yakking on the cell phone like you’ve got an unlimited minutes package.lol

  2. Cèsar 30. Nov, 2010 at 5:54 am #

    great blog Genny.
    do not enter Sea wearing fins or walking backwards with them on. Remove mask once out of the water.
    Imperial is the least demanded therefor they are always cold.
    do not use Sahara style headgear
    take your pics with a real DSLR
    and once your are established also consider this:
    bringing your own home made drinks in over-sized plastic containers into local bars is NOT COOL.
    Use Spanish only when you know what you are saying.
    Take steps to learn Spanish, locals appreciate it.
    Wearing t-shits and hats with reference to your place of birth or fav sport team is OK
    Wearing rasta/jamaican clothes/ accesories is not cool

  3. Dianne 30. Nov, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    Texas is wonderful! But, it’s huge state. Where are you going to be? Austin and San Antonio are a must to visit, particularly Austin. Laid back, great food and music. Please let me know if you have questions.

  4. Marina 30. Nov, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    Hi there, If you are coming to the Dallas area email me. Some fun things are happening. Oh, bring your coat, hat, gloves, and scarf. It’s 46 today.

  5. Susanna 30. Nov, 2010 at 9:00 am #

    Your tips are right on point as someone who has been here for 10 years. Have a good time in Texas, Genny. The island will miss you. Not going to Canada, eh! Couldn’t bear the thought of Ontario in December? (insert soft chuckle here)

  6. Gennyca 30. Nov, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    I will be further South, Harlingen! My mom and step-dad are “snowbirds” from Canada. I sure hope it doesn’t get as cold as you say it is in Dallas. I don’t own a coat, hat, gloves, scarves anymore!

  7. Gennyca 30. Nov, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    My mom is worried it will be to flat for me. I have assured her I’m very excited to check it out! Laid back, great food and music…definitely my kind of place.

  8. Gennyca 30. Nov, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    Good points Cesar. And I always wear my Canadian Maple Leaf shirt when we go to Sundowners to watch a hockey game!

  9. Gennyca 30. Nov, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    That’s just you Robert! But you learned quickly, when you had to start buying your own phone cards.

  10. Dianne 30. Nov, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    Genny, South Texas is very nice…South Padre is not Roatan, but it’s pretty. Just don’t go across the border into Mexico. Ton of violence with the drug cartel conflicts.

  11. robert 30. Nov, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    My very first trip, age 17, was to south padre. There was all of a mile of road a few hotels and endless dunes. it was great. visited Brownsville and Matamoras. Went back solo, Wink,wink, in 89 for New years to visit a canadian nurse working there that I met in Barrie one crazy weekend. Good tip, weekends don’t always lead to good weeks. went back to Matamoras for a few days but I can;t tell you much about that, was with my old friend Jack Daniel’s and his half brother Corona. Have fun, and do stay out of Mexico, Matamoras is a dangerous town.

  12. Patricia Lemelin 30. Nov, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

    They are right about Matamorso, we don’t go there anymore, but do go to Progresso for Shops food and doctors.
    The weather is not cold like Dallas, as we are on the Mexican Border. Hot in the day, cooler in the evenings but then, not always.
    Four more sleeps Genny.

  13. Mary 01. Dec, 2010 at 12:11 am #

    Genny, I am from Laredo (near where you’ll be), and have tons of family there. Don’t hesitate to let me know if you need any type of help while you’re down there :)

  14. Gennyca 01. Dec, 2010 at 6:50 am #

    Thanks Mary!

  15. Bobbi 07. Dec, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    Now this is a useful post I must say. I need to do one like that for France, hmmm. Maybe after I stop looking like a tourist myself…


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