Ugly Americans

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Ugly Americans

“What’s the derogatory term for Americans in a foreign country? ….Americans” unknown 

As Americans traveling the world we do apologize often for our behavior. But we may have outdone ourselves with Trump. Trump represents the America that the world hates. He embodies the worst anti-American stereotypes: vulgar, violent, cash-obsessed, racist.

 I had heard about the  Ugly Americans abroad but this was my first experience with them. We were at a beautiful resort in the Pantanal in Brazil where meals were served at community tables. There they were- loud, arrogant, older Trump supporters and the BF took the bait.  Sometimes I think we’re all too much like this. We are rude to people we don’t know precisely because we don’t know them, and we think it doesn’t really matter.  We treat people with differing political views as evil rather than consider that they have had different experiences and ideas. 

My boyfriend apologized the next morning and they agreed to talk only about the jaguars that we were all hoping to see . There had  recently been a huge fire in the Pantanal  and it affected and killed many animals. The safaris were like treasure hunts and we had been lucky and had seen almost all the animals including jaguars, 

The next morning out on the jeep with them we saw nothing. The Ugly Americans complained loudly and compared the experience unfavorably to their many trips in Africa and boat trip to Port Jofre. A vacation always goes better if you don’t compare.They wallowed in a swamp of complaints.They measured their stay in the Pantanal with an American yardstick instead of immersing themselves in the culture they came to see.

Their anger escalated in the afternoon. Again, we saw very few animals and we pulled up to go canoeing on this beautiful lake in the Pantanal. They were furious. He yelled at the guide.  “I flew five thousand miles to go canoeing. I’m not going and I’m going to just sit here and complain.”

Righteous anger boiled up inside me. I felt compelled to tell him that his negative energy was impacting the group experience and this beautiful place. He replied in a loud angry voice that i should shut my mouth and go back to Brooklyn (where I grew up). His response was several notches more intense than necessary. “You are healthy and you are here,” I answered and walked away.

I got into the canoe and begged my boyfriend not to say anything. He. agreed but when we got back to shore, the man stood in his path. The next thing I knew was that they had their hands on each other about to fight. “I hate you Hollywood types. You think you are better than everyone,” he said.  It was right out of Trump’s playbook.

The wife would stand in front of the jeep so I couldn’t get on without asking her to move or go around to the other side.  If I tried to talk to my German friends sitting behind me, she would get involved and push me out of the conversation. No one liked them but everyone was trying to keep the peace and talk to them so that there would be no more incidents and we would see more animals. I haven’t seen bullies like this since  junior high school.

We bonded with the hardworking  staff and the other lovely guests from all over the world over our dislike of “the Ugly Americans.” i tried to avoid them as much as possible but staying in the same lodge it was difficult. They were still complaining in the doorway as we were leaving.

Just to be clear, every country has horrible people who are loud, rude, and arrogant, and these people are horrible when they travel and, presumably, horrible at home. It’s not limited to a single country.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ