Thursday, August 19, 2010

Foreigners of every shape and size

We foreigners come in all shapes and sizes and I´ve been seeing us everywhere. I´d like to take a minute and categorize us into pretty little boxes.

Let´s start with

The I´m So Cool Guy:  Always male, the I´m too guy is proud to be an American.  He´s so proud that it´s painfully obvious to the rest of us.  He feels that being American will get him laid.  He´s right but will also probably result in a child.  Be careful guy and wrap it up.

The Portuguese Speaker:  This one has taken some courses or learned on the fly. They have mastered a working Portuguese and have the need to use it, always. That includes speaking in Portuguese with people from their home country so that passerbys will be aware of their skills.  Sometimes annoying, yes. But you have to give them a gold star for effort.

The Foreigner:  They are not here to blend in or mix.  They will live their day to day life as close to the 1st world as humanly possible. Not bad people, just a different comfort level. I do encourage pushing the food envelope as you will find a great many hidden treasures down here. For example, stop at someone´s house in Buzios that has a sign promoting PFs. Cheap, good, and you get to eat in someone else´s living room. Interesting experience. Be careful though, this group usually has more sensitive stomachs.

The Local:  They know everything and anything that is going on before your Brazilian friends do. Actually, they already are best friends with your Brazilian friends and everyone else in Rio de Janeiro.

The Converted:  You may suspect they are a traveler but can not confirm unless you manage to have a candid convo with them.  That will be unlikely because they surround themselves with Cariocas and prefer it that way. Not haters but are here to here and want like company.  They have mastered conversational Portuguese. Don´t feel bad, just ask them to write an essay in the language.  They´ll cringe at the thought just like anyone else.

The Newbie:  This bright eyed and busy tailed young person is new to traveling. They look like they´ll be eaten alive here, hell, anywhere.  Don´t worry, they´ll do just fine, have a blast, and officially catch the travel bug.

The serial traveler:  Water bottle holder, check.  Guide books (note the plural), check.  Day backpack, check. Money belt, check check.  They will see and check off every major site in the city. They are polite but will not mix too much as they have a tour in the morning. Brings to mind, have you hugged your angry German today?  I know I have!

The Chameleon: No one knows exactly how many countries this person has lived in nor where they are from exactly. They seem to blend in everywhere, regardless of knowing the language and/or culture or not.  Can be found in Catete.

The drunk: Isn´t there always one of these.  They are on the beach, the streets of Lapa, asleep in cabs, and getting robbed in Copacabana.  Always stimulating the economy, the drunk enjoys the trip immensely. Well, what they can remember. That´s why we have cameras anyway, right? Wait a minute, where´s my camera?

The Partier:  Loving the ruleless party scene, this person is at every bar, club, disco, restaurant, and after-hours juice stand in the city.  Not me. I´ve been retired from this post ever since I´ve been required to function at or above the level of a 2 year old before noon. 

The Obvious:  These ones try, they really do. They buy Haviannas, they purchase Flamengo shirts, and they hide their cameras until they need them.  You have to give them an A for effort but the lobster sun burn and crew cut just give them away.

And I call out to readers to give me more!  What kind of Foreigners do you notice in your country or country of residence?


  1. Don´t forget the tourist that compells you to apologize on behalf of your nation. The ones who define every sterotype we try to dispell. The ones our inlaws will always use to typicfy the western Me-first societies. the ones who should not be allowed to leave home and if they do should never be introduced to a caipirinha.

    Then there are the ¨I took 1 class in anothropology and a latin american survey course and let me tell you how it really is tourist¨...I bumped into a traveler recently that after 5 days in Rio informed me that the danger and in Rio is a simply a myth of the elite.

    On a related our family we categorize all tourists by their footwear. the birks, tevas, brand new havaianas, dirty tenisshoes vs white running shoes, NB vs converse, orthodics, hookerheels...i wonder if your groups fall in any of these categories? oh and whether they understand where dogs pee in relation to where they have decided to callapse. my nieces think that all people who wear tevas like to eat sitting on the sidewalk in Ipanema!

    oh and the ones who are oblivious to the fact that brazilians would never ever EVER take a towel to the beach. and who usually have a money belt with their passport tied around their neck which they will tuck in their towel as they go in the water...

    the list goes on...

  2. Google Street View tourist: they take pictures of absolutely everything. Buses, people, signs, etc., if you can see it, they have a picture of it. They always have those waterproof cameras at hand.

  3. And the only people walking in the rain in Rio are tourists! ;)

  4. I have 2 good types:
    The guys who come to Brazil and instead of visiting the good stuff Brazil has to offer ask you to take them to Hard Rock Cafe, where they buy all their merchandise.
    The hippie who doesnt shave or shower, has no manners and seems to have been raised by wolves when it comes to manners. Goes home saying that she love it so much she'll come back to stay the following year.
    I've had both in my house.

  5. how could i possibly add to this list? genius my friend, genius.

    whenever my parents come to visit, i have to remind my mom that we wear "normal" clothes here... no need to bust out the "tourist" clothes. just dress like you do at home... yes, including your handbag. (would you use a fanny pack at home? yeah, i didn't think so;)

  6. the only people eating pizza or sandwiches or pastels with their hands...are tourists!