As I travel around the world this summer I am reminded and come to realize how much I appreciate certain things as well as have come to a greater understanding about a few other things.
Some of the most prominent of these are the following:
- I realize what it is like to be the minority and to be stared at because of the color of my skin (or lack there of in this case). In the U.S. this is never an issue for me since I am in the majority for the most part. In every place I have been to I have been stared at because I am the white person visiting a non-white place. People, especially children, just want to shake my hand because I am one of the only white people they have come into contact with and are intrigued by my lack of pigmentation. (Although, I will say I am making a valiant effort to work on my tan!). This is quite an interesting thing to experience especially when you don't understanding the language and don't know if they are telling jokes about you or just commenting on meeting a white person.
- I forget how frustrating it is to have a language barrier. This has happened more times then I care to admit this trip and will continue to happen. Hand gestures only get you so far. However, there was just no way to learn 4-5 languages in a few weeks that would accommodate all the places I am traveling to. So hand gestures and pointing it is!
- Either because of the color of my skin or because I am from America, many people expect something from me, particular as it relates to money. Before anyone gets upset, please note I have said many but not all. This particular pertains to tuk tuk drivers and store keepers, who think a white female can't possibly know that 500 rupees for a 250 rupee ride is extortion! Little do they know. The other situation I have run into repeatedly is when sitting in a restaurant and people with supposed handicaps or disabilities come up to me and my other "white" friends with their hand out expecting money. I will say that for each of these situations there are 1-2 other people I have run into that just want to hear about what I do and where I am from, with no expectation of a gift from me. That is refreshing. Because believe it or not, even though I am extremely privileged to have the opportunity to travel like I am doing and see all the wonderful places I am seeing, I am not rich, in fact nowhere near close. Having said this I also know that most of the people I have met will never have the opportunity to travel outside their home country or see more than 15 countries like I have. However, this doesn't mean you can take advantage of me. :)
- I greatly appreciate hot showers and a real pillow. I haven't had either in more than 3 weeks. Where I am traveling doesn't seem to understand the concept of what pillow is and that it needs to be fluffy! Warm water is also nice even if the weather is boiling hot. I can't wait for both!
- I will miss being driven around everywhere, whether it is by a tuk tuk driver or a hired driver, I will really miss that. I wish I could take one home for me and continue to have someone drive me around. I know this is possible in the U.S. but I don't want to pay U.S. rates for this. I want to pay Gambian or Sri Lankan rates for drivers. That would be so great. Never having to worry about directions or getting road rage would be so wonderful. I will have to work on this. I don't know what I am going to do when I go home and have to drive myself somewhere! Plus in these last two countries they drive on the opposite side of the road so you may want to steer clear of me for a few days until I get my driving legs back!
- A little poo doesn't hurt. I am sure if someone found a miraculous age cure that involved elephant poo they would be paying hundreds of dollars to be covered it in like I am on a daily basis. The reason why I point this out is that what I really mean is a little dirt doesn't hurt. It is okay and, in fact, I encourage everyone to get a little dirty every once it awhile. What a great stress reliever.
As I think of more I will update this but until then enjoy some of these fun photos.