I hate it when people I follow on Tumblr get in fights. It always amazes me that people get really heated over bad arguments. I hate seeing it on my dashboard. I’d love the get involved but I’m not about to clog someone elses dash with this nonsense.
The entertainment tonight was over a blog on tumblr that collects pictures of white people who go to Africa. Many would make assumptions about the intentions of people behind the camera and the intentions of the traveler. The blog that they were speaking of is a terrible blog, I’m not going to provide a link to it, but the argument wasn’t even about the blog- it turn into name calling.
This is just to say that it reminded me of something.
When I was studying abroad in Latin America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, & Cuba), I was always hesitant to whip out my camera for many reasons. I hated looking like a tourist, for one, and I also didn’t want to exploit those in my host culture. However, there is some proper documenting that can be done with photos like nothing else. My pictures weren’t going to be sold, they were going to be kept in albums so that I could remember the things that I learned and experienced while I was abroad.
So, there are many moments that I didn’t document through the lens of my camera because they were too delicate and I don’t regret it. Throughout my whole experience it was always something that I was careful of. I always asked before I took photos of people and as I became more sensitive to my environment I took less and less photos.
I realize that travel is a hobby for the rich. I am very thankful for all of that chances that I have been able to have in going abroad. Each country I have been to, I tried to make an effort to give back and make connections with people I meet there. In each case I have been successful. I think the world has a lot to teach me and I am grateful for it’s lessons.
Living abroad has taught be to appreciate life and that there are many more beautiful things to live for than success and personal advancement. I have learned to love the food that is put in front of me, to love the people that surround me, to participate in religious ceremonies that I may not fully understand, and to appreciate the ways that all people give and receive love and respect.
I remember that before my semester abroad I would often try to pretend that my family wasn’t wealthy in it’s own right, but let’s be real, my family is very privileged because we don’t worry about food, about clothes, about a home, etc. I remember one time I was with Meg and we were getting our almost daily “Coca Light” from the AutoMarcado. There was a beggar outside of the store. I gave him all my change that I had from buying my coke (which is a debatable activity, I know) and he said, in English, “God bless you, gringa.” I gave him enough for bus money, but I wasn’t worried about how much I gave him because it was so little and he treated it like gold, he looked in his bucket with complete surprise when he saw what coins I dropped. I remember getting on the bus and crying to Meg, because I’m emotional, and because I know how little that money meant to me and how much it meant to him. Actually, I can’t even guess how much it meant to him.