David - Time for Random Rants

Trip Start Nov 24, 2007
Trip End May 15, 2008

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Flag of Panama  ,
Thursday, April 17, 2008

Random rants on my mind-

1. As much as I love traveling, I am 'dog' tired of seeing poor hungry homeless people and dogs for that matter out on the streets trying to survive on scraps and rotten food in trash bags along the sidewalks. What a harsh life they live, what an unforgiving world we inhabit, what a vicious cycle it is...

2. With that, I'm tired of seeing vagabond travelers who are taking a year long 'introspective' discovery of who they really are. They go to the most gringo visited hot spots in the country and go around selling jewelry to subsidize their 'vision-quest'. It is a little disenchanting because being a traveler from an outside world who's customers are largely from your own culture, you probably would have a good idea of the things that people similar to themselves might want. That is all gravy capitalism I suppose and you are free to do what you want to do, but most of them think they are the 'culturally aware' and conscious folk who think they are respectful of the land they are living in and the people that call it there home. I'm not on my high horse saying that I know all and do only good or even that I am all out judging them, but in my opinion, they often times sell things and steal customers that otherwise a local (who a majority of the time knows nothing outside of their own province, can't speak language and is difficult to relate with) would be doing business with and thus supporting his/her family. They do their year long journey and then return to the comforts of home. On one hand, yes, it's a free world to do as you please, but at the same time, it just seems so contrary to the so called 'beliefs' that many of these people say that they have. I see it all the time. It frustrates me only every now and then...usually when I see a group of travelers hunched around one of their displays while an old local lady looks on...

3. People who start up a conversation with you only so that they can tell you where they have gone, what they have done, the things that they have seen, the adventures they have lived through and what awaits them next. Bor-ing. I'm too nice sometimes and just let them talk. When they eventually finish with all of it and ask me, I'll just say, "Oh, I have definitely not done the things that you've been fortunate to do," and eventually excuse myself to the bathroom...

4. Those people are nothing compared to my favorite folks however. I absolutely love to talk with the plethora of travelers who come to L.America, 'live cheap,' 'don't ever do stupid tours,' and 'are all about the experience' but instead spend 95% of their time drinking, smoking, partying and sleeping until noon in the one hostel they have been in for three weeks. The other 5% of their time is spent getting from different place to different place when they do finally leave so that they can do it all over again. Only in the places that other travelers will be of course because even though they really 'become connected' with the lifestyle of the locals because they stay in one place for so long, they can't possibly do it alone or in a place w/o foreigners. Pete and Repeat sat on a fence, pete fell off, who was left? I mean for crying out loud! That is way we tend to steer clear of your quintessential backpacker hostel because without fail, the long term folks are a real knock on the environment in my knowingly cynical opinion.

5. Locals. 99% of local people that I have encountered have been kindhearted folks but there is and always will be that 1% that no matter what you do or say is bitter to you. Although probably with good reason, either for historical reasons or a past experience, they are in a foul mood to see you around regardless. My favorite are the ones who come off nice at first and so you get to talking with them which. If they are men, then naturally this leads to a culturally inherent need to express their knowledge of things. This of course, with great pride, leads to them to discuss only the great things about their country and only the worst of yours. I understand that cultural tendancies are definitely at play here and even the need to impress but that said sensitivity goes both ways. I think there is great virtue in being humble about things and for some reason, maybe because I speak to them frequently because I like to practice my spanish, altogether it is bothersome after a while.

That is half - but enough for today. I feel much better!
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