on not being as tan as you think you are, not swimming in the nude, and not trusting anyone (ever!)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On my second day in Brindisi, a bunch of solo travelers at the hostel (myself included) decided to go to the beach again. When we showed up and looked out at the locals who had arrived bright and early that morning, I was struck by how unbelievably tan everyone was! I tend to get pretty brown myself in the summer, but these people were a whole ‘nother level of dark, and I suddenly felt like a ghost. I tried to capture it with a picture but I don’t think the photograph does it justice (although it does sort of remind me of a Where’s Waldo? book).


The most memorable part of the beach trip?  The moment when an Italian man approached me and asked, “Why are you swimming in clothes?”.  At first, I thought he was confused by my not swimming in the nude (several other men and women there were), so I told him, “I like swimsuits”.  He replied, “Yes, but you swim in clothes on bottom?”.  That’s when I realized; he was confused by my swim skirt.  I explained to him that, where I come from, some people wear one-pieces, some people wear swim shorts, some people wear swim skirts, bikinis, etc., and he was so genuinely perplexed.  He even asked me if it was because I was ashamed of my body!  I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that launching a modesty-focused swimsuit line would not be the most lucrative idea for swimwear designers in Italy.


Later that day, after we returned home to the hostel, I decided to rinse my sandy feet off in the shower. I was sharing a hostel room with two young German girls and didn’t want to seem overly paranoid by constantly locking my personal items in the locker next to my bed.  Figuring that rinsing my feet in the shower would take 2 minutes tops, I made the mistake of leaving my clutch inside my pillow case, before returning to find my hostel mates gone, along with the remaining Euros in my wallet. I immediately ran downstairs and reported the incident to the hostel manager. He regrettably admitted that the hostel mates had allegedly stolen from the roommate before me (a little warning would’ve been nice!) and told me the German girls had checked out of the hostel just minutes before I’d reported them….

Stealing is something I cannot even fathom – I just think it’s one of the meanest things you can do to a person – and what I found most maddening is that I hadn’t wanted to offend my seemingly nice roommates by appearing suspicious of them, and in turn, they stole all my money.   Needless to say, I went to bed feeling very sad (and imagining all the things I’d say to these girls in German, should I ever see them again).  Sigh.

Michelle said...

Love your pictures! Looks like fun.

Jan said...

That's a really random comment from a stranger but sounds like he got a crash course in US beach culture ;)


Pretzel Thief said...



I, too, have been the victim of brazen theft (AND also in a seaside town, at that!). In 2009 the boy and I were in Lovran, Croatia, on the Adriatic Coast...we were staying with the boy's 1st cousin in her dorms.

That afternoon when we arrived we were going down to the cafeteria for a snack and as we were leaving our room I went to lock the closed door. Cousin assured me there was no need as we'd be back in a jiffy and, against my better judgement, I left it unlocked even as my gut instinct was SCREAMING at me to lock the damn door.

The next day I said -- at different parts of the day -- "Hmm, where's my camera?" / "Hey, where's my bikini?" / "Where's my pretty green dress?"

That night I realised: someone must've stolen the things in that short window of opportunity. As it happened, I remembered that my camera, my brand-new adorable bikini I'd bought in a different coastal town on the Adriatic weeks before, and my adorable can't-find-another-one-like it green dress had been on the very top of our suitcase...and that whoever had come in had run in, taken the first few things that were good, and hauled ass outta there.

I was so beyond angry that I can't explain it and felt soooo violated. (And angry some more.) And it's not about the material things so much as the fact that they're YOUR things and who the hell has the right to steal something you've chosen and bought for yourself, something that suits your personality, etc etc.

And yeah, all the photos that I'd taken up to that point with my cam? Lost.

Thankfully my boy is an amazing photographer and took infinitely better shots with his SLR but: still not the point.

THAT'LL teach me to be trustworthy...!

Never. Again. ;-)

emily g. said...

wow, I feel like I would have been more trusting of Germans too. Way to ruin that positive stereotype, girls in the hostel. Also makes me glad we opted for private rooms for our trip!

dreaming en francais said...

Oh no, that stinks!! I would've been so mad :( I'm one of those people who likes to believe the best in people but at the same time I know it's safer to just not be overly trusting, of anyone! xo


Sophie said...

the tanness in that part of europe is shocking! it kinda makes my skin crawl when i see all the elderly people with leather like looking skin! i prefer the ghost look!

cannot believe that about your wallet! i just cannot fathom it either. drives me crazy!!

jessica said...

I had money stolen while traveling in Thiland on a bus. The money was stolen by fellow travelers. I can imagine it either. I don't know how anyone could justify stealing. It still makes me sick to my stomach!

[eeny] said...

Oh no, that is so mean.
I am always super paranoid about my stuff. If someone stole anything from me it might have ruined my whole trip.

So funny that the guy thought you where swimming in your clothes. Ha ha. Guess he didn't know much about girls' swim wear.

Jennifer said...

Haha, yeah, I studied abroad with two Italian girls. I cannot imagine them ever, ever, ever wearing a swim skirt or a one-piece...half the time, they swim pretty much naked! He was probably ultra-confused...and maybe a little bit creepy? Just a guess.

Alana Christine said...

Gorgeous beach! I can't believe they stole your money! That's ridiculous!

Niken said...

one thing i know for sure is that i will never ever swimming naked in the beach.

I wish you will meet these German girls again so you can have words on them (and curse)!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I bet you're ashamed of your body with those amazing abs and long legs!! I'd be mortified too ;)
No, the Italians never go for modesty, it's one of the things I love about them really.

There is a lovely word to describe it - 'vistoso'...kind of 'visible','eye-catching', 'blatant' I can't think of the English word but the Italian one is perfect.

Stephanie said...

I'm sorry to hearing about the stealing. It really is one of the meanest/most selfish things you can do.

PS - for the record, I love your swim skirt. :)

Rebecca said...

That is so funny! People really do bare all in Europe so I'm sure he was confused! Haha.


Katrin said...

Oh no, I am so sorry! Awful German girls!

Stela said...

I'm so sorry about those damn girls stealing from you! That's so shitty.
Love the beach photo. Look at all those brownies!!
And your bathing suit is super cute.

Unknown said...

Not cool!!! Sorry that happened girl! Karma will get em!

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