Don’t Be An Ugly American

Caribbean, Cruising, europe, History, italy, musings, Photography, Scotland, Travel, United Kingdom, United States

One of the things I hate most when I travel is seeing people be an “Ugly American”. Well really you could insert anything after “Ugly” (but for a magical reasons Canadians aren’t on this list). Regardless, my point is that the world was not designed and created to make Americans more comfortable in moving through it. AND if you want to move through it, then you owe the world some respect and humility.

On my travels I have seen numerous moments of “Ugly” in Scotland to Mexico and Haiti and in between.

On my first trip there was an American couple with a bus tour sitting at the cafe and museum at Urquhart Castle complaining that the castle was “too ruined to enjoy”. Mind you this castle is in one of the most picturesque places along Long Ness and that most people would give their right arm for such a trip. But no, because this castle was not up to their expectations, they were bitter about this excursion.

On the cruise my husband and I took in 2015, some of my favorite people truly ended up being the staff that were from all over the world. One server was from Poland, the head chef was from Trinidad, the housekeepers were from Venezuela. All of them were lovable and funny and smart and made the experience absolutely fabulous and luxurious. Guess who didn’t? A lot the “Ugly Americans”. Some people got so drunk that they attacked a vintage Aston Martin that was on board. I heard others berate the staff over petty things like not more dessert or sushi or whatever else. At stops people would complain that locals asked them about money or to take them on tours. Others complained when a location was not Americanized enough with sidewalks or marked roads etc. Mind you we stopped at places like Haiti, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico. News flash, the world isn’t built for Americans.

This is not to say that all Americans are bad travelers or malicious in their journeys. It is to say that if you are lucky enough to travel outside of your hometown, be on your best behavior. Unless someone is seriously threatening you, or REALLY harming you, there is no need to be angry or bitter or cruel.

In fact, most of the people that work on cruises or at resorts or in industries along the tourist trail work six days a week or more and maybe have a break once every six months. Imagine if you had to work those many hours or did not get to see your family but once or twice a year.

Other stories are endless that you hear. When I did my study abroad in Italy students (some from my school) did things like urinate on the Duomo in Florence. In the years since, there are stories of students breaking a priceless statue trying to take a picture, and others till flipped a police car for shits and giggles.

Another point, especially if you are new at traveling, don’t hold onto insane expectations of how the world will be. Read some of the history of a place you are visiting, ask locals for stories, read signs in the museums you visit. See, if the Americans had taken some time in Scotland to understand why Urquhart Castle has seen better days they would know something on the English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell. They would know that most castles from that time were destroyed because of a Puritan regime, and then they might know how that connects to their own American history.

At the end of the day, be grateful. Be so very grateful that countries and people and ancient ruins open their doors each day to millions of foreign visitors. Be grateful that there is money put aside by governments to preserve these places and reduce entrance fees so you can see the Uffizi and the Colosseum. Be grateful that we live in an age when it’s cheaper than ever to travel between countries. Be grateful that you are well enough financially and physically to go to these places. Be grateful.

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Cheyenne Frontier Days – Adventure of the Week

adventure of the week, History, musings, Travel, United States, wyoming

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A few weeks ago I got invited to join in on a work event to the Cheyenne Frontier Days. While I had my hesitations, as playing Wild West is not really my forte, it ended up being a great day out of the office.IMG_4723.JPG

The Cheyenne Frontier Days are one of the longest running annual events in the west, and it has been putting together its annual shindig since 1897 when it started as a meet up and spin off of the Wild West shows. Think Buffalo Bill Cody.

Today, much of the same traditions hold. There is a rodeo which showcases the insane talent of bull and bronc riders, barrel racers, and roping professionals. All of these are sports that bring me too much anxiety to watch often. Also all sports I have watched more often than I would like to admit having grown up in the middle of nowhere, Colorado Mountain Town. Think South Park.

Beyond rodeo antics the area is home to a wide variety of artisan goods such as jewelry, leather working, trinkets, and odds and ends. Further afield a massive carnival blows full steam with endless treats of deep-fried havens, and dizzying rides. There also seemed to be a lot of trash bins to handle this combination.

Late night brings in country and rock music, such as Nickelback and……other people I have no idea about.

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I spent my day wandering with two work friends talking about the art we saw and trying on hats, overall just having an enjoyable and laugh-filled day.

However, beyond all of the typical Western American novelties and goods there was a unique and special feature to the Frontier Days, an Indian Village.

This Native American haven provided probably the most authentic presentation of the peoples of this area circa 1890s. The artists selling pottery and jewelry presented their history through dance, music, and living in tee-pees (common for plains native peoples) for the duration of their time at the Frontier Days.

There I found friendly and warm pottery makers, and jewelry designers, all with laughing kids in tow, or older kids learning a traditional craft. There is where I sat and enjoyed some great traditional dance and story telling from beautiful matriarchs grinning in pride at their children and grandchildren. It made every moment of the day worthwhile.

I truly enjoyed my shenanigans at the Frontier Days, and maybe the day-drinking buzz and a party bus helped with the journey. But overall the people I spent the day with made it a memorable and delightful experience.

Next year it starts all over again, come and check out the west!

Happy Travels!