He was a gullible traveler. His Street smarts? Null
I tried to teach him the basics of being safe overseas. Even though I didn’t look like a local, I was able to make myself less of a target than he was. I put effort into blending in, where Austin, with his loud, English speaking, American accent, drew attention wherever he went. On top of this, it didn’t help that he was the world’s most gullible traveler.
No matter how many times I would tell him that the men who stood on street corners that called out to him were looking for his money, and not his friendship he would still go up to them and engage them in a broken English conversation. I would just observe, and intervene when I saw that, inevitably, Austin became overwhelmed. ‘We made eye contact’ he would explain as we would walk away from them. I knew that he was socially awkward and home schooled, as well as that not everyone is born with ‘street smarts’ but if this happens to you repeatedly throughout the day, a normal person would have caught on.
What frustrated me the most is that he had no problems telling strangers on the street our names, ages, citizenship, even where we were staying at and for how long.
BY THE WAY AS SOON AS WE ENTERED THE HAITIAN BORDER FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HE HANDED A BEGGAR HIS PASSPORT.
I honestly wish I was lying about this one. But nope, it happened. Did I mention he was a gullible traveler?
We were taking a Caribe Tours bus through the border. At the border from DR to Haiti, the bus entered a militarized passport checking zone, where we would all need to exit to get our passports examined. Haitian street children chased after our slowing bus, so as soon as the doors opened, they could beg each exiting passenger for money. I observed this and let Austin know to be aware, especially since we were the only non Haitians.
It is worth noting that I normally lead, and he follows. But, since he was sitting in the seat closest to the aisle, he exited the bus first. It was literally a straight line-in a group- I have no idea how he managed to fuck up so badly. But it happened. It must have been while my eyes were adjusted to the blinding Haitian sun. All I know is that for a split second I was in shock by the pure amount of stupidity that I was observing, it felt like slow motion.
Austin handing his passport to a beggar.
The beggar leading him away from the group.
“What is he doing? Get it back” one of our fellow bus riders urged me.
‘Don’t let him take his passport!’ another yelled to me.
Blinded by fury, I proceeded to rip Austin’s passport out of the beggar’s hands and grabbed the oblivious Austin by his arm and led him to the visa office.
I was livid.
“What on Earth were you thinking?”
I asked him. He shrugged, and nonchalantly explained to me that, “I thought he worked here.”
Literally everyone who worked there was dressed in military uniform, the man who tried to take his passport was in rags.
When the Caribe Tours lady who assisted in the visa process caught up to us in the building, she scolded Austin. He seemed incredulous that the lady and I were actually upset at what he did.
“This is my first time traveling.” That, accompanied by an eyeroll was his excuse every time that I would correct his actions, which unfortunately, was quite often. My response to this consisted of me sucking up my pride every time and summoning all the patience I possessed and explaining to him in a calm voice, “I know Austin, I’m just letting you know for next time.” Even though I would be furious at him, I knew that this was his first time abroad. And that he depended on me to watch out for him.
I told him a few times throughout the trip,
“remember Austin, we only have each other here, it’s not the same as it is back home, you need to be careful.”
He would then begrudgingly agree and tell me that he wished he stayed home.
Well that makes two of us doesn’t it.
Part 4: He even crashed my tinder date!