Something that has been very clear on this trip is that there aren’t many Americans traveling in this area. A lot of people I have met, have never or rarely meet Americans traveling.
I can count on my two hands the number of Americans I’ve met on this trip.
There have been a handful of interesting interactions with other Americans and people from other parts of the world about being American and traveling.
Within the first few days of my trip, I met some people who had never met an American, so to them, I was someone so new and a culture completely different from anyone they had met before. One guy said, “I expected you all to have thick southern accents, gun wielding, and super country.” I thought that was a joke, but no, it was serious. It was shocking because I’ve always thought the US has such an international reach with shows, movies, and politics, that it’s hard to ignore a country that seems to have such a global presence.
Interaction 2 & 3:
This was with two other Americans. One, Robert, in his 40’s maybe, it was his first time leaving the country. He booked a trip with a company that organizes group trips. His group consisted of people from all over Europe, so to him, he was alone and on the outside as the solo American. The first question he asked me, after learning I too am from California was “Have you met any other Americans here?” He was shocked to learn I had encountered very few. Talking to him, I could tell his mind was closed to the adventure of meeting people different from him and experiencing things that pushed him out of his comfort zone. He gravitated towards me in a sense, mainly because I was someone that seemed “familiar” to him. He so longed to travel and meet Americans in foreign places not realizing, when you travel, you meet more foreigners than your own, and that’s one beautiful thing about travel.
Hunter was the other American, 28 and on a little 2 week vacation from his job in Washington. It had been a while for him since he did a trip outside the States. Through conversations, he thought I was his age. He asked “What do you do back in the States?” I laughed and proceeded to say, “I graduated from university in June, worked all summer, and now I’m here.” His eyes widened and mouth dropped. Learning about my trip, and realizing my age, he shook my hand and in awe said, “Damn. You’re an inspiration.” Both he and Robert were shocked at my age, what I am doing on this trip, and especially how I’m doing it alone.
I was at dinner with a few girls I shared a dorm with in La Fortuna. A girl from Great Britain looked at me and proceeded to tell me, “I’m so glad I’ve met an American. You guys don’t travel.” For me, I know some people from the states who have traveled and some who haven’t. It was hard defending that because, it seems to be true. She then said her parents were concerned about her going to the States because apparently, we love our guns and are super rude. It’s sad to hear that this is the reputation people from the States have gained over time.
These are only a few of the interactions I’ve had. They’ve all stuck with me in a way and I know there’s more that will come.