What do tourons and taco dip have to do with each other (and what’s a touron, you ask?)? Well….nothing. But since this post is more or less a lesson on island living, I thought I’d throw in a bonus. Super Bowl Sunday would not have been complete without this taco dip!
So, on to the tourons…
Island people have a mentality entirely separate from the rest of the world. Growing up anywhere other than this island sometimes makes it hard for me to understand the reasoning behind these locals’ behavior and actions. They will be the first to admit that they have their own way of thinking, and actually revel in their differences from mainlanders. For the most part it is amusing and sometimes even helpful, while other times it just seems to be an excuse for unconventional beliefs or actions.
But there are some very helpful things I’ve learned in my time here, the main thing being these people have a healthy respect for nature. With unpredictable weather conditions it pays to be prepared and not to freak out. I for one am soooo tired of windy days. In fact, a non-windy day is a rarity around here, and after 5 years I still have a temper tantrum when trying to make it from the house to the car and my hair is swept straight up into the air, allowing for many strands to get caught in my lipstick. The wind also irritates the heck out of me because it rips car doors out of my hand, breaking my fingernails. Any neurotic car owners out there? You know how it makes you shudder when someone slams your car doors shut really hard? Now imagine the wind doing that to your doors in reverse. Yeah.
The wind also pushes my car all over the road. I actually get tense in my shoulders and neck trying to keep the steering wheel straight. Walking anywhere outside is a chore because there is always a wind blowing, and I especially hate cold wind blowing in my ears, so winter time is my least favorite time to be outside. At all. For any reason. Because it never fails the wind blows harder in the winter. Just carrying groceries into the house can test the most tolerant of people.
We also have hurricanes. These cause lots of damage and it takes months for people to recover. There are still people displaced; still recovering; still rebuilding; still healing from Irene. It is like that with any major damage-causing hurricane.
We flood frequently. This is mostly due to high winds that comes from a certain angle. It’s not lots of rain that causes flooding, though it certainly can, and definitely adds to the probability, but I’ve seen the tide rise up, putting the entire island under a good 4 feet of water in a matter of hours due to high winds and not a drop of water in the sky. Island people have a saying, “Water comes up, water goes down.” It’s true. What happens during that time of flooding, or how you deal with it is another thing.
Overall, I’d say that the island people have the highest respect for water. This is because the largest percentage of damage on a regular basis is caused by water. Water due to flooding and water due to rusting. You see, it’s salt water. Yes, we get rain water, and yes, often times the big puddles on the road are from rain, but no puddle on the island is ever completely free of salt. This is because there is so much salt in the ground as well, that even if the roads have flooded 100% because of rain, the water brings up salt deposits. Another reason is because if there is enough rain it will actually saturate the ground, causing salt water to seep up from the ocean and sound side.
Why am I posting about this? Because this is a high-traffic vacation spot. Our economy depends on tourism. But season after season we get visitors and vacationers from all over the country and Canada who tear through the water, causing it to splash up and over our vehicles, and underneath, making it hard to prevent the rust that we as locals must think about all the time. Our cars will not last as long as yours because the longevity of our investments are threatened by salt water and salt air.
They are not just puddles. No matter how small they are. Yes, I see you driving through them at the speed of light, probably because in your hometown of Regular, USA those little rain puddles pose no threat. I am not creeping through the water because I am afraid of it. I do it because I respect it and so should you.
Island life will not always be my burden. As the wife of an itinerant pastor we are bound to be moved eventually. But after having lived here and seeing how life is both bettered and hindered by people on vacation, I will continue to feel the same way. I am just as much to blame. Before moving to a vacation destination, I too never thought about the locals whenever I went on a vacation. I assumed everyone around me was on vacation as well. I even never really thought about the people working in the restaurants or stores either. Instead, I thought maybe they were working through a summer at the beach and would eventually return to where they came from It sounds incredibly ignorant, and it is, I agree. But you’d be surprised how many people come to the island with absolutely no idea or respect for the locals and the natives. I’ve worked in the local restaurants and have had people ask me if I lived on the island as I’m serving them their lunch. (I think, Really?) Not everyone around them is on vacation.
Granted, most of the places vacationers go the locals do not. In fact, you can’t know who around you is a local and who isn’t. My only wish is that these people pay attention to who and what is around them, and to treat everyone with respect. I see how people come from New Jersey (an example only) and drive like maniacs. I say this nicely, for I am a Northerner with first-hand experience of defensive driving. It’s just not necessary here on the island. Our speed limits are low, and the locals respect that. It is a state law, not just an island law, that vehicles can not pass on the right. I see visitors doing it all the time in their haste to get to the beach, or to the ferry, or just wherever they want to be at. Quickly.
There is another saying here: “You’re on island time.” Slow down and relax.
One of my girlfriend’s sons was hit by a car passing on the right. He was 11. On his bike. He was fine, thank God, but imagine that mother getting her hands around that tourist’s speeding neck….
There’s another saying on the island. Tourons. It’s not a nice term and not everyone feels that way, I assure you, but I have a short list of things I’d like to share in the event you ever travel to the coast (any coast or island) for a vacation. Pretty please.
1. Observe the people around you. Be aware of other people and cars. Drive the way they drive.
2. When renting a 10 bedroom house for a huge family reunion, it is NOT necessary to take all 20 family members with you to the grocery store. This, and the lack of general respect in the aisles, makes shopping extremely difficult for locals who just want to get in and out, and get home to their families.
3. You may be on vacation, but if it’s a shoulder month (Spring and Fall) then our kids are still in school and have schedules and routines and bedtimes, etc. Please keep your car stereos down when passing my house at 9pm. My kids are in bed. And at any time of the year it can be assumed that morning traffic is mostly comprised of locals trying to get to work. Be mindful.
4. Take it easy when driving through water. I think I’ve explained this enough.
5. Driving on the beach is allowed, but don’t even attempt it if your vehicle isn’t 4-wheel drive. This isn’t the movies. Your car will get stuck.
6. Air down your tires. I don’t care how awesome and powerful your 4-wheel drive is, if you’ve never driven on the beach before you don’t know what you’re doing. Air down to 15 lbs, possibly less depending on how soft the sand is. Get a tire gauge. It’s worth the $6 bucks.
7. Stay off the dunes. They are not sand slides for kids or a place to pee or make out. In fact, it’s a law. They protect the island and are in place for a reason.
8. Pick up your trash. It amazes me how clean our highways and beaches are during the off-season. Bring in the vacationers and we’re living in a garbage dump. It’s so sad. Especially when there is broken glass that rips our tires, kills wild animals, and hurts our children’s’ feet.
9. For Pete’s sake don’t feed the seagulls! It may be a novelty, but they are a menace when there is a beach full of people who didn’t ask for 1000 seagulls to invade.
10. You may be on vacation but there is nothing cool or appealing about you being drunk. Don’t sway towards my home, my children, or me, and especially don’t drive. You endanger my life, my kids lives, and your own.
Please, don’t be a touron.
Ok, as promised….TACO DIP!
Truly tasty and sinful. Only meant for consumption on those days when you are taking in 57,382,874 calories anyway! This recipe was created on a whim one night a few years ago when Hubby and I were heading out to a gathering and “snacks to share” were requested. The dip was a hit and became a favorite of Number Two’s who now asks for it whenever we have leftover taco meat. Click the title to link for the recipe, and enjoy!