Living in Honduras or Guatemala as a foreigner is sometimes hard, mostly fun and never boring. This Blog is about more than just the oddities of my years in the not-so tranquil, cobble-stoned town of Copán Ruinas and, more recently, Antigua Guatemala. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Lesser Side of Tourism

It’s high season in Copán Ruinas and although the number of tourists isn’t nearly as high as a few years back, everybody is happy to be doing some business after months of misery. Yes, we’re all happy to see the streets crowded again, the restaurants full and hotels bursting out of the seams with college kids on excursion. Everybody somehow depends on tourism in this town, directly or indirectly, so we’re glad, but that doesn’t mean that high season doesn’t bring along its nuisances too.

My number 1 irritation this year is people skyping in public places. I think there should be a set on international rules for the use of skyping, with fierce fines and punishment for abuse, because really, it’s getting completely out of hand…

Cell phones were bad enough. In Copán Ruinas, the fad started pretty late, because for the longest time we had no cell phone towers here, so only a happy few carried the thing around, for when they were travelling “abroad” (=outside Copán or the Grand City of San Pedro Sula). When we finally got connected, you couldn’t have a decent meeting with more people than just yourself, since everybody always had the phone glued to their ears. I suspect it was much more a “hey, look at me, I’m cool – I have a cell phone” thing than an actual need to communicate. I even have my suspicions that people specifically requested calls during their meetings, just to show off. But now that everybody has a cell phone (or two), even the poorest campesino, the novelty has worn of and people no longer shout in their phone while in a restaurant, meeting or bank. Or maybe it’s just that phones are barely used for talking these days, but for chatting, gaming, posting, tweeting, taking pictures or baking pizza.

Skyping though, is a whole different story. If you want to spend your whole vacation on your IPad, fine, I have no problem with that, although I don’t always understand what’s there to post on Facebook if you spend so many hours on your tablet instead of actually experimenting the place you’re at. If you really need to share every tortilla, every taxi ride and each and every souvenir you buy directly with the loved ones at home, fine. But please do so by chat, whatsapp, tweets, facetime, messenger or texting, not by skyping in the middle of a reatsaurant!!!!

Yesterday afternoon I went for a quiet beer to the restaurant across the street only to find the place invaded by a whole army of teenagers on a mission. Actually, there were just six of them, but they occupied three tables and one was pacing around with an iPhone, so the restaurant felt like it was completely overtaken. Each and one of them were skyping. Some by themselves, others in pairs, and they were all yelling on top of their voices to be heard. At least most of them had earplugs in, but being able to listen to only half of the conversation doesn’t make things much better.
“No, I said we’re in Honduras… Yes, HONDURAS!”
“Hi dad! Look! I’m in a restaurant!”
“Is aunt Jane back yet?”
“Yes, it’s pretty hot here too!”
“So, after grocery shopping, what did you do? … The hairdresser? Ah, cool…”
Worse is when they pick up their iPhone/tablet/iPad or other device and start walking around showing off the place.
“Yes, I’m in this restaurant. Look, isn’t it cool!”
Yes, you’re in a restaurant, you idiot, a place where people come to eat and relax. Not to be shown off to your uncle’s neighbours’ grandfather! And I don’t appreciate to have your tiny camera lens directed at me, so I give you the finger. So you have actually something to talk about: the place is really cool, but the people are so rude!!!

So please people, can we do the same thing we do with cell phones nowadays? Have you noticed that when in company or in a restaurant and people receive a call, they actually get up and go outside to answer? Can’t we do something similar with skyping? Please??? What about the privacy of your hotel room? The reception area? The bathroom maybe? The top of a mountain???
Anywhere but public places where you’re surrounded by people not interested in your private conversations???
Please!!!

Thanks…



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