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Posted by on Apr 10, 2011 | 51 comments

Most Incoherent and Shameful Things I Have Heard in my Travels

Updated March 17, 2014
Most incoherent and shameful things I have heard in my travels


Actually, I am not sure what my feelings while writing this post were.  At some moments, I laughed remembering the exact moments and the reactions of people.  Other times, I was pretty bummed to discover the things that can get out of people’s mouths.

Today, I am writing about the most incoherent and shameful things I have heard during my travels.  Some are bizarre, some are disgraceful and some are plainly stupid (ufffff).

This is not fiction.  I know it is hard to believe adults pronounce words like the ones below but I am not making up anything.  And that is not the worst.  The most horrific part is that one person is responsible for three of these comments. Plus, the comments were made in the same trip.

So, go ahead and enjoy the incoherent, the shameful, the weird.

Let’s start with the ones related to Puerto Rico.  Yes, my poor island has had to endure multiple insults from different human beings around the world.  Every time I travel, people ask for my country of origin.  When I say I am from Puerto Rico, I am prepared to hear back all sort of incomprehensible comments.

1. Person: You are from Costa Rica, right?

Me: No, I am from Puerto Rico

Person: Are those different countries? Really?


2. Are there TVs in Puerto Rico?


3. Wow, I can’t believe there are local TV stations in Puerto Rico.


4. In what part of Africa is Puerto Rico located (a teacher asked me this)?


5. Person: Do you know how to swim?

Me: No

Person: But, you are from Puerto Rico.

Me: And?

Person: What if an earthquake breaks the island in multiple pieces and you have to swim for your life?


6. Person: Do newspapers exist in Puerto Rico?

Me: Yes.

Person: In Spanish?

Me: Yes

Person: What a nightmare!


My husband is from El Salvador.  That is another country that doesn’t get a lot of love.

7. Person: Where are you from?

Husband: From El Salvador

Person: What the hell is that?


8. Person: Where are you from?

Husband: From El Salvador.

Person: In what part of Mexico is that located?


The attacks towards my family do not end there.  I also have problems explaining where my mom lives.

9. Person: Are your family still living in Puerto Rico?

Me: Most of it.  My sister lives in New York and my mom in Pennsylvania.

Person: I imagine your mom lives in a constant state of fear.

Me: Why is that?

Person: That is the place where vampires roam free.

Me: She lives in Pennsylvania not Transylvania! (Anyway, aren’t vampires supposed to be fictitious?      This was just too much.)


This is an odd one.  Not sure what was the point.

10. Do you know what a turkey is?  Because you cannot celebrate Thanksgiving Day without a turkey.


Some people have serious prejudices.

11. “I already saw the best of Central America.  I don’t have a desire of returning there.”  This person said this after spending 4 days in Costa Rica.


Some are just plainly offensive.

12. “The kids in this country play the most stupid and nonsense games I have ever seen.”


13. “I have noticed the women in this country are uglier than the Miss Universe contestants.”


14. “The Buddha seemed to be a really poor person.  He never wears shoes on his statues or pictures.”


15. Person visiting country x: Women in this country are so old fashioned and dress horribly.

Local from country x: Hey, my wife is from this country.

Person visiting country x: That is why I am saying it.


16. Person asking a question to a tour guide:  Have you been to the United States?

Guide: No, never.

Person: What a loser.


I don’t know how to describe the following group.

17. A person asked me once: “Does quesadillas contain cheese?” I tried hard not to faint and answered: “Yes”.  She didn’t believe me and asked the same question to a waiter.  He looked at her and just said: “Excuse me”.  By the way, queso (Spanish for cheese) and quesadilla.  Do you get it?


18. In London, I overheard the conversation of some girls.  They were discussing how to spend their money.  Some wanted to spend it on drinks, others wanted to ride the London Eye.

Person 1: I think we should go to a bar.

Person 2: I think is better to ride the London Eye during sunset.

Person 3: Listen gals, we can drink anywhere in the world but maybe this is the only opportunity we will have to ride the London Eye.

All of them: AHHHHH!!!!!


19. One day, I took some friends, visiting from another state, to San Diego.  Our hotel was located really close to the border.  While driving to the hotel, I told my friends: “Do you see that hill in front of us? That Mexico already”.  It was about 8:00 p.m. and the hill was visible because of all the house and street lights.  One of my friends said: “I would have never guessed it.  I didn’t know there was electricity in Mexico.”


And, chan, chan, chan, chan: the worst one.

20. Person: I didn’t know El Salvador was part of California

Me: What?

Person: Everywhere I look, it says El Salvador, CA.

Me: C.A. stands for Central America (not California)

I know, I know this is not good.  C’mon, you have experienced similar comments.  At least once.  Let me know in the comments area below the most incoherent and shameful things you have heard while traveling.  Let’s see if you can top mine.



  1. stumbled upon this post through an FB share. I can’t believe how ignorant people can be.
    Some examples I have come across:

    1) ‘Why travel to countries where they don’t speak English?’


    A ‘So you’re going to visit your Chinese boyfriend, what’s his name…chin chong chung…whatever.
    B ‘He’s Korean’
    A ‘Yeah ok, but you know, aren’t slanted-eye people all the same?’

    A (with great excitment) Did you know that white people actually LIVE in South Africa???
    B ‘Really??? come on, you’re pulling my leg!

    A. Where are you from?
    B. Germany
    A. Oh nice. Have you ever been to Europe?
    Denise recently posted..Spring and Cows are backMy Profile

    • Denise, good to know you found the blog. Thanks for stopping by. I can definitely relate to your experiences. As I said, being from Puerto Rico, I am used to all sorts of comments. Imagine what people have asked me relating my accent. Thanks for share your stories.
      Ruth recently posted..Bloggers Advice on How to Add More Adventure to Your LifeMy Profile

  2. This is hilarious….I wish that I could just say it’s a simple faux pas, but these people genuinely do not understand how ridiculous their comments are. I’m beginning to think that the new badge of courage is ignorance because some people make no apologies for their lack of knowledge and if you call them on it, you’re the bad guy. It’s most prevalent in political circles these days, but the citizenry hold fast to the same principles….be ignorant and be proud of it. Great post and glad to have found you. ;-D
    Renee recently posted..A Conversation with Gray Cargill of SoloFriendlycomMy Profile

    • Renee, thanks for your comment. You are right. In my experience, when people say things like this they try to sound intelligent. They say it like they are making a deep observation about the culture. What is worst is that one person said three of the comments posted in here while also flaunting about the university she attended. She was very proud of her degree but she was still deeply offending people and putting herself in danger with her words. In other words, like you said she was ignorant and proud of it.
      Ruth recently posted..Papillon Photos- Las Vegas Spring PreserveMy Profile

  3. OMG, I really can’t top that although I experience similar types of verbal diarrhea while on the road. The most annoying one is when I tell them from the Philippines and they go “Manny Pacquiao” then a fist pump.

    I think people should just keep their mouth shut when they don’t have anything intelligible to say. I’m wondering if you have you told anybody off?
    Grace recently posted..Llama foetuses- naked ceramic couples and other witches’ trinketsMy Profile

    • Verbal diarrhea, I liked that one. I can identify with the Many Pacquiao gesture. Peopel also associate Puerto Rico with boxers.

      I have to admit that some of these comments have being pronounced by family members. I have asked them to please keep quiet if they are going to open their mouth to offend people. In another case, we were traveling in a group and this girl kept mentioning stupid things. Several group members told her to stop because she was being too rude to our hosts. She didn’t understand why we were censuring her and started to cry. So yes, I have said something when I think people are being mean just because they feel superior. In other cases, I know people are just ignorant and they don’t really have bad intentions.
      Ruth recently posted..Thailand’s Blue Tiger- Day 7 Scene 4My Profile

  4. Well, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people calling Bali a country (or maybe they simply don’t know that it’s not a country?). I’ve had a couple of conversations that go along a similar line to this:
    Person A: Where ru from?
    Me: Indonesia
    Person A: Where is that?
    Me: It’s in Asia. Have you ever heard of Bali?
    Person A: Yes. I love Bali. I’ve been there before.
    Me: Err.. well, it’s in Indonesia.
    jill – Jack and Jill Travel The World recently posted..Bromo In Our MindMy Profile

  5. What a list, what stupidity. I can’t top that either but many comments I have heard during my trvel were from people who have absolutely no idea about geography. I mean, have they all been truant, not to metnion the prejudices like Mexico and electricity.

    • Hi Inka, thanks for stopping by. I think some comments have been said with the purpose of putting down the visited country. Yes, the person on purpose was making clear how their country is far superior. Not sure why they want to do that in another country. Don’t you think that is a little bit dangerous? Other are just ignorant.
      Ruth recently posted..Papillon Photos- Fuerte San Lorenzo- PanamaMy Profile

  6. Oh, man! The worst are the ones that come from being mean-spirited. Like the ones in #8 and #11, for example. Talk about losers!

    Right now, nothing in my experience that’s even comparable to these comes to mind.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..The Cloisters- Medieval ManhattanMy Profile

    • The Miss Universe one was really bad. We were at a restaurant with some friends from the country we were visiting. This girl that was traveling with us mentioned that plus she added that in her country women are really beautiful. I just remember how my local friends were looking at her. It was a horrible moment.
      Ruth recently posted..Thailand’s Blue Tiger- Day 7 Scene 2My Profile

  7. “if an earthquake breaks the island in multiple pieces and you have to swim for your life?”
    Haha – classic! Red helmets can be very useful ;-0

  8. I can’t think of a specific comment that was worse than those you stated. I can remember during the time I lived in Germany that at times I would see American tourists doing things and behaving in ways that embarrassed me, being American. It can be stunning how rude people can be.
    Lisa recently posted..Lϋbeck- a leisure destination in Northern GermanyMy Profile

  9. LMAO!!! Some funny and shameful ones… had a good laugh.

    Ok, I didn’t know you’re from PR?! I’m from there too! I totally understand you… I have gotten the exact and similar comments that you’ve gotten about Puerto Rico. Especially Puerto Rico being Costa Rica.

    Also, sometimes when I say I’m from Puerto Rico, people go: “oooo, Ricky Martin!” ugh… lol
    Other times, I’m the one who has to play the game… I say I’m from Puerto Rico… all I hear are crickets… then I say “Ricky Martin?”, and then they go… “aaaaa, I love Ricky Martin, I love Puerto Rico!” … oh well, if you can’t beat them, join them. 🙂

    I guess you’ve been asked countless times about the political status of Puerto Rico. I feel like I’m an ambassador of the island since I get asked that question on every single trip. But that one doesn’t bother me since it shows an interest and a sense of maturity from the person asking.
    Norbert recently posted..Weekly Snapshot- Garinagu at Triunfo de la Cruz BeachMy Profile

    • Norbert,
      I wrote you once but I think you don’t remember I told you I am from Puerto Rico.

      Anyway, totally identify with everything you wrote. I have heard the Ricky Martin thing over and over again. They also recognize Puerto Rico because of Jennifer Lopez. UGHHHH!!! DOn’t know which is worst.

      You are right about the status issue. People who ask about that show some knowledge about the island and its problems.

      Another weird one happened to me in Thailand. When I told her I am fro Puerto Rico, she got really excited and told me how she watches all the movies fro the country. I don’t know what she is talking about.
      Ruth recently posted..Thailand’s Blue Tiger- Day 8 Scene 1My Profile

  10. Wow! Those are some really sad/ignorant comments. I think the best one I heard was when I told a co-worker I was going to Rio de Janeiro and he thought that it was a country. Then I said, no it’s a city in Brazil, and then he thought I was going to Africa.
    Michael Figueiredo recently posted..Photo Essay- Windows of the WorldMy Profile

  11. Really interesting post. Some people really can drive you mad. I think one of the worst things I have ever heard from a fellow traveller was in a hostel in Krakow. One of the guys had just got back from visiting Auschwitz, as you can imagine he was quite sombre. A girl asked him what he had been doing that day, and when he told her she said “Wow, cool. Was it good?”

    To be fair though, I have been lucky to meet many amazing people on my travels. Fortunately the idiots are still very much in the minority!

  12. Unfortunately we have to fight ignorance every day no matter where we are. Two quick stories here:
    1. One of the girls in my dorm freshman year was ridiculously clueless. She thought Singapore was the capital of China, Kosovo was a “Jewish” word and so many other ridiculous things. Mind you I attended a very diverse university with students literally from all over the world. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure if she made it to graduation…

    2. I have to admit, we’re from Washington, DC, but when we travel outside of Latin America we speak Spanish to each other in the markets to avoid the “American” price. When people in the markets ask where we’re from we say Puerto Rico. Unfortunately it works out too well because most people don’t know where it is, and we’ve often gotten the Costa Rica comment.

    Whenever I hear something ignorant or maddening I just have to shake my head and I try the best I can to politely correct the person. Sometimes its like nails on a chalkboard though!
    Jillian recently posted..Barefoot RunningMy Profile

    • That girl sounds like the one who made three of the comments I am sharinf on the post. Good to know that you can speak Spanish. Continue saying you are from Puerto Rico in Latin America. They love us there.
      Ruth recently posted..Thailand’s Blue Tiger- Day 7 Scene 4My Profile

    • That;s the typical one. Here in Los Angeles that is so common. Another thing is that they call Jose all the guys who speak Spanish and Maria all the ladies who speak Spanish.
      Ruth recently posted..Thailand’s Blue Tiger- Day 7 Scene 3My Profile

  13. Hilarious! We heard some ridiculous things living in the US

    * Did you drive here from Australia?
    * Do you celebrate Christmas in July then because it is winter?
    * Is there Santa Claus there
    * Do you have kitchens?
    * Where is that country? I don’t know it Is there another name for it?

    There were so many more but I can’t think of them now. At least it gives us a good chuckle.
    Caz Makepeace recently posted..Tips for Couples TravelMy Profile

    • Wow, did you drive here from Australia? I guess expats or people living for periods of time in other countries get the worst part. Thanks for sharing.
      Ruth recently posted..Thailand’s Blue Tiger- Day 8 Scene 2My Profile

  14. We had a great one a couple weeks ago. After walking up to the top of Phnom Sampeu near Battambang, Cambodia, we were taking a break and enjoying the beautiful green countryside below from a nice little viewing balcony. A couple walked up with a guide, who started explaining what some of the agriculture was, and pointing out other plants and landmarks on the horizon. The girl interrupted and said, loudly and slowly, with a tone indicating how profound she believed her question to be:

    “So this is Cambodia. Why is it so flat?”

    Yes, why is it so flat. My god. The poor guide, though his English was decent, was dumbstruck as he desperately tried to grasp the question.
    Evi @evitravels recently posted..Alappuzha- in Kerala- was one of our favorite stops during ourMy Profile

  15. Well … just to share a bit … i am half chinese half spanish but raised between mexico an the states … anyway … so one summer i tell my friends in college that im doing a summer course in china, and thay ask me if everyone in china rides a bicicle and if they actually drown baby girls …. and when i get to china i get asked if everyone in mexico carries a gun and also if the main means of transportation is a horse … (donkeys too … someone added) …. AARRGHHHHH

    Another time in Spain I was talking to a friend brom bolivia and asked him how long was his flight from bolivia to Miami before connecting to madrid … and he tells me its about 7 hrs …. and then another friend (spanish) just laghs and says its ridiculous!!! were you in an air balloon??? … it cant take that long … i can cross the whole of spain in 10 hours on a car!!!
    and then a long silence … me and my bolivian frien just looked at each other and couldn’t believe what just happened.

    Anyway the point of my comment is actually the way i handle these ignorant remarks… I know it may sound cruel but here’s what I do. Anytime someone (whom I don’t care about) makes thesse sort of remarks or questions my response is to ALWAYS, feed their ignorance, “yes, everyone in china rides a bicicle”, “Almost all mexicans travel on donkesys, except for the president, he’s the only one who actually has a car” … I know it may be mean, but i’ve tried to educate them before but it seems that they already know everything so… why bother …

    well, just thought i might share my “solution” with anyone who is interested

    • Ivan,
      I totally understand you. When I went to college in Puerto Rico, I had friends who were half Chinese, Korean and Lebanese. They used to get the weirdest questions. Also, they were given weird nicknames. Even I got the weird questions because I have a German last name. Some people ask me if I descend from nazis. That comment really pisses me off.

      Like you said, it is almost imposible to try to say something when this people talk because they are not moving from their position. I just stand there and listen. Like I said in one of my previous comments, I say something if it is somebody I have a relationship with or if they get too far (offending local friends).
      Ruth recently posted..Thailand’s Blue Tiger- Day 7 Scene 2My Profile

  16. These are insane!

    I use to get a lot of crazy comments when I lived in Montana. Similar to Mexico comments I’ve read here.

    “Does everyone ride a horse to work?”

    “Is that in Canada?” (from a fellow US citizen…)

    Matt | ExpertVagabond recently posted..Climbing Volcano Masaya in the DarkMy Profile

  17. This was both an entertaining and enraging post, lol. So much ignorance you there. My favorite happened to me this last September in Europe. I am from St. Louis, and I was traveling with a good friend from Cleveland. Not once but twice on our travels were we told by other Americans once we told them where we were from they responded with “oh, I didn’t know people from the midwest traveled, that’s so coo”. Really? wow. great post!
    Scott recently posted..My Style of BackpackingMy Profile

  18. LOL this is so funny. I too hear the weirdest things on my travels, I should start writing them down, they can make for a great book! Once a friend of mine told me: “So you are from Sardinia, do you have ice creams there?” Umm.. Sardinia is an Italian island, he was from Rome, supposedly we were from the same country…
    Angela recently posted..Peoples of IndiaMy Profile

    • I guess it’s worst when people of your same country make this type of comments. So sad to discover that they don’t know their own country.

      Yeah, things like this would make a good book.
      Ruth recently posted..Thailand’s Blue Tiger- Day 9 Scene 3My Profile

  19. Seriously, Americans are some of the dumbest people on earth. It’s comments and questions like this that make me embarrassed to be an American sometimes. Then I watch the behavior of some Americans when they travel and I am even more embarrassed.
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..Life lessons from hiking with a father and sonMy Profile


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