This article focuses on heterosexual North American and European tourist women in a transnational town in Atlantic Costa Rica renown for its intimate “vibe” and independent eco-oriented tourist development, where they grappled with the unexpected monetary aspects of intimate relations with Caribbean-Costa Rican men. Drawing from three women’s narratives, I explore the particularities of how North American women give money to men with whom they are having sex or intimate relations and what this giving means to both the women and their partners. Rather than refute the monetary underpinnings of tourist women’s transnational sex or see money as all powerful, I show the complexity of transactions and multiple meanings that accrue to money and markets. I argue that the small-scale, informal, and “intimate market” context of the Caribbean as a tourist destination, as well as the valence of sexual secrecy in combination with the moral evaluations about foreign women’s relations with local men that circulated in the town, were central influences on the exchanges.


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pp. 133-162
Launched on MUSE
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