A Piece of Advice for Tourists: Please, Shut Up.

Recently, while at the airport, I overheard a conversation between some American tourists. They were talking about the time they spent time on the island; they kept mentioning how amazing the beaches had been, how delicious the food was, and how they didn’t want their vacation to end just yet. I was listening to all of this very absentmindedly, glad that they got to enjoy the island. However, it quickly became a conversation that made me very uncomfortable. They started bashing on Puerto Ricans’ unruly driving, how bumpy our roads are, amongst other infrastructure issues that the island suffers through due to a lack of societal priorities consequential of its political status. All of these things could be considered true, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for a tourist, especially one that’s still at said country’s airport, to be vocalizing what they found wrong and disgusting about that place. I would never do that in any country I find myself in because it's not my place to do so.

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They continued to speculate and comment on the island’s political climate, and how they thought we were, and I quote “too much of a third world country to be even considered part of the great nation of the United States.” By then, I was fully shocked to be hearing this. I just kept repeating over and over in my head: “How dare you?” It is incredibly disrespectful and just plain-white moronic to comment that without acknowledging the effects U.S. colonialism has provoked on our island. To make an uneducated comment like that, at our country’s airport, where the majority of people there are Puerto Rican, seems to be the most ignorant thing any person could do. 

 

I wish I would’ve had the bravery to interrupt the conversation, but frankly, I was just in too much of a shock to react. So, my advice to any tourist that finds themselves in another country and feels like they have the right to comment and criticize anything about that place: don’t.

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