You'd think, from the hysterical way white dudes drinking cheap beer at hostel bars tell white women they need to "cover up" while traveling, that I'd've offended someone by now.
(I mean, other than said white dudes. They, like certain parts of certain cultures, do not deserve my respect.)
But no! No bikini, shorts, or tank top I've worn has ever offended a local -- in fact, most seem absolutely delighted for the chance to chat, question, or take a photo with me. Especially the women.
But... there is one thing I wore once that was super offensive, and just thinking about it makes me cringe.
I was in Maui, staying with my family at the most amazing bed and breakfast. Vi and Boogie were locals with incredible stories and knowledge about the island. There was excellent snorkeling right off the rocks in front of their house, and a good surfing beach about a mile down the road.
Different AirBnb. Same idea.
One day, I finished up a surf session and found several gorgeous leis washed up on the beach. They were fantastic — more beautiful than anything I’d seen for sale in any of the shops. So my brother, my sister, and I each put one on -- I think we even grabbed a few for our mom -- and began walking back to Vi and Boogie’s.
Along the way, we passed a church on our left. Dozens of people were standing outside… and I kind of felt like one or two of them were glaring at us -- which, as I wrote in Here's How One Pretty Woman Deals With The "Constant Stares and Compliments" From Men, is not a normal way that I feel. Even after six weeks in Costa Rica, it wasn't until a dude I was traveling with mentioned that men were honking at me that I realized Ticos don't just use their horns a lot for no reason.
Yes. I very much felt like they were staring at us.
Then I very much felt like they were whispering to their friends about us.
Then I felt like the entire church yard was glaring. All conversation had stopped, and my family and I froze like deer in headlights.
Finally, one woman stormed across the road and said to us, “Excuse me. We are having a funeral. As part of our tradition, we throw leis into the ocean to honor the deceased. You need to give those back.”
I don’t embarrass easily… but that will haunt me to the day I die.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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