I don’t blend in after all

Since I wrote this post, two things have happened:

1. I’ve seen some white people in Trinidad.
2. I’ve been singled out as an American.

I said in the audio to “An outsider who blends in” that I hadn’t seen any white people since landing in Trinidad. That changed when our group took a trip to the Waterfront in downtown Port of Spain and entered the Hyatt hotel there for a restroom break. White people were in the restaurant on the hotel’s first floor. It surprised the classmate I walked in with and me so much that, without telling one another we were doing so, we started counting the white people. We both also wondered if they were from the U.S. or from a Latin American country, something we would never initially consider at home. That night, I didn’t feel like a minority.

On our trip to Maracas Beach on Sunday, July 13th, I did. The same classmate and I took a walk, and two young (they appeared to be 19 at the most) men of East Indian ancestry approached us. As our conversation went on, two white men were walking our way. One of the Indo-Trinidadians asked if the white men were with us.

“Why would you think they were with us?” I asked.
“Because they’re Americans,” my local companion said.
“Did you know before talking to us that we were Americans?” I asked. He nodded. “How did you know?”
“Trinidadians, we walk different, carry ourselves different.”
“Different how?” I asked. He shrugged.
“And you had the big hat.”

The hat.20140713-222331-80611553.jpg

A sunhat gave me away. Now it’s true, I hadn’t seen anyone else on the beach wearing one, but really?

I can’t lie: I was alarmed that I was so identifiably American. I was sure it made me a robbery target (I had a weird feeling about these guys anyway), and it shredded my illusion of blending in. Yes, I’ve been a noticeable outsider before; there weren’t any Afro-Mexicans in Cuernavaca, and my Spanish had an American accent, so of course I was linked to the other gringos on my first trip abroad. But being linked to two white men—two people who live in an alternate reality from mine when in the U.S.—stung a little, perhaps because in most situations, I don’t think the white men would claim me as one of their own, either.


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