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I think yes, and no. Part of travel for some involves total immersion in the culture. try to learn the lingo, dress local, eat local. I think there's a lot of pleasure in that for a lot of folk.
Then you get the real crazies who have baked in the sun too long. Saw a lot of grizzly, sun baked pensioners in Goa, India, and they looked like they'd spent the last 20 years boozing and getting high on the beaches, and had skin like a worn out leather sofa with half its stuffing pulled out.
I have a pragmatic approach to local clothing. one of the key 'rules' of survival/ wilderness travel is that local people probably evolve the best tools to get by in their environment. I have a great book by Chris Ryan, former SAS, about survival. He states that, aside from airport restrictions, it is better to buy a knife when you land where you're going. In Nepal, a Khukuri is probably the best knife to have, in africa you want a machete etc. Your swiss or german knife isn't adapted to the local wilderness.
He tells a great story of being in Siberia in his ultra-hi-tech hundreds of pounds gear-shop precision-engineered boots and then growing a layer of ice on the inside and giving him frost-bite. The Russian guides used bear-skin, and their feet were just fine.
Bit off-topic, but my point is, sometimes local clothing is better. Sometimes, you just look like a prat.
You dress like a Hobo you get treated like a Hobo.
A clean crisp shirt and a smart tie and nice shoes will get help you what you want.
Great post, Andy. I spotted one of these guys in Medellin, Colombia last year. I just caught a glimpse from behind and told my girlfriend, that has to be a gringo. Anyway, we continued walking and when the guy turned around, sure enough it was a gringo. The ironic thing is that people here in Medellin dress pretty much like Americans, maybe a little simpler. I would say the biggest difference is that the girls wear their clothes tighter, which doesn't bother me at all. They also don't have as big of a problem with shorts here as the Mexicans seem to have.
Travis (from Medellin, Colombia)
Yes Vic, you must allow me to live and let live, this is my opinion, there is no reason to not tell my opinion.
Andy Graham the HoboTraveler.com
Oh please call the Fashion Police on these people! Thats the travel tip for gods sakes! If I had one rupee for every neo hippie wearing bad fashion and dirty dreadlocks here, I could move into the Mumbai Taj! Great post Andy
The first place I noticed so many "trust fund baby" posers was southern California, 40+ y.o. surfers and bar flies who gave up attempting to surpass their parents and hang out, cry broke and profess anti-capitalist sentiments while waiting for their inheritances. As I traveled around Asia I crossed paths with all kinds of foreigners who went "native" dressing in such ways to bring themselves attention to locals and other foreign tourists. There is no shortage of "crazy" travelers who have various mental conditions making them unable to keep employed in their country of origins. Sometimes their families prefer to send them U$500 to U$1000 / month to stay away from home and the family business. In Asia it seems such people never have a hard time finding some local or foreigner to listen to them over free drinks or a meal. But I have old friends living in the States who have not changed their choice of clothes since they were in college I noticed the same people in their 40s and 50s at the Friday Free Concerts on the Beach in Santa Cruz, CA during the summer months who dressed like it was 1970s. It's likely that many of these type of Americans have moved south to places like you mentioned in Guatamala.
This is something I am writing on at the moment actually. I take your point about the trustafarians but there are a hell of a lot who just live off some government pension, I have met people who are on the insane pension because they couldn't be bothered with all the signing on business of the unemployment pension! I have seen the Indian Fashion Victims in ARRIVALS for gods sakes wearing last years India rags as if it were holy garb! Fashion statements from the Ship Of Fools!
But then having said all that I wish someone would pay me money Not to go home! maybe i am jealous?