New Rules for Tourist Traps

A photo by me of tourists taking photos atop Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio.

Welcome to this high up location with a really beautiful view. Once upon a time, this was a wonderful place to sit alone with your thoughts and soak in nature’s beauty. Now it’s overrun with tourists trying to take the same exact photo of the same exact landscape, over and over and over again. You’re going to love it!

Before we can allow you to superficially enjoy this breathtaking scenery, we have a few ground rules to cover:

  1. DO NOT feel the need to be civilized or courteous. Shove people out of the periphery of your photo. Hog the best lookout spot. Smash others on the head with your selfie stick. It’s okay to regress to your most base instincts if it comes in pursuit of the *PERFECT* pic. Just know others will do the same (or worse) to you.
  2. There’s no such thing as too many photos. We all love scrolling through our iPhone photo album and looking at 20 versions of the same shot, taken within seconds of each other. Ironically, the more photos you take, the less likely you are to actually remember what you saw because you’re not truly engaged in the present moment. But please, snap away.
  3. It’s OK to strike weirdly sexual poses. We don’t know what’s so arousing about this mountaintop where ancient religious leaders sacrificed virgins to their pagan god, but the Instagram influencers do. So feel free to use the banister as your own personal stripper pole while a group of children on a school field trip look on.
  4. DON’T help other people take photos. This is a natural evolution of Rule 1. You came here for your own clout, not somebody else’s. So if some milquetoast couple has the poor taste to ask you to take their picture, you’re under no obligation to accept. Even better, accept and then throw their phone over the railing.
  5. Ignore the pickpocketers. We burned down half the forest to build a high-speed tram up here because we have a local economy to support—and the pickpocketers are part of that economy. Places like this are fish in a barrel for them. You’ll be so distracted by your 30th selfie, you won’t even realize when they brush past you. In fact, I’m not even sure why we told you about this.
  6. Overpay for everything. This once quiet lookout spot is now equipped with a restaurant, bar, McDonald’s, souvenir shop, and a weird dude who sells roasted nuts out of a pushcart. If you’re inclined to take a break from your soulless effort to commodify your experience, we’d be happy to charge you double the market rate for any of these goods. If you don’t want to get ripped off, consider that what you don’t spend will probably just get stolen from you by a pickpocket.
  7. KILL for a sunset pic. This a new rule we’re trying out. During the 20 minutes before and the 20 minutes immediately after the sun sets, murder will be legal if it occurs in the pursuit of a really great sunset picture. We don’t know what it is about a sunset that turns all of you into monsters, but we’re tired of having to get the police up here every time something goes down.
  8. If you don’t take any pictures, you can’t leave. Some of you want to come up here simply to immerse yourselves in the wonderful scenery—and we won’t have that. If every tourist decided to just enjoy the great scenery rather than take thousands of pictures, then how would the next batch of tourists know to come here and do the same exact thing? We’ve sunk a lot of money into the idea that people can’t enjoy a pretty aesthetic without posting it on social media. So take the damn picture. Seriously. We’ll wait. And if you refuse, you can join the rest of the pickpockets. That’s right, they’re all tourists who also refused to take pictures. Now they need to steal people’s money to buy food at McDonald’s.

And that’s it! We hope you enjoy your visit. Next week, when you’re scrolling through all these photos you took, you’ll try to remember what it felt like when you first laid your eyes upon this natural beauty. And you won’t feel a thing. Because your head was too far up your own ass.

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