Travel Log 6: The Mindful Traveler

There are very large differences between the three classifications Slimbach asserts. In the time we live in right now it is easiest to be a mass tourist. Someone who is essentially a collector of different experiences and sights. There to see and move on, only to tell others they have seen these wonders or certain kinds of people. Showing them photographs to prove that they have done so. We live in a time where this is widely prevalent as for people who live with a level of comfort it is simple and inexpensive enough to travel and see different parts of the world. These are the kind of person that locals tend to dislike and in most places expect people to be if they are not from there. When I leave class and walk to the Rambla to get onto the metro I have to walk through droves of tourists who are blocking the way, standing with a map open or just clustering where they shouldn’t be. Tourists have taken over the Rambla to the point where locals have basically given up on it. There is no trace of culture left on the Rambla, I could not even tell you what it once was. Now it is littered with souvenir shops selling mass-produced “culture” and fake FC Barcelona jerseys. Even the restaurants on the Rambla are now fake, selling overpriced recently frozen tapas at extreme prices because if all you know is the Rambla then you assume that is how much food costs.

To be a carefree drifter you are a universal citizen in a sense but also more truly a citizen of nowhere. As you drift you do not necessarily connect with each place the wind ends up blowing you. There are actually many drifters in Barcelona. You can generally pick out a drifter from a homeless person. Many of them have dogs to help them get more money but the key feature for me is their hair. Most of the time it will be shaved in some kind of way but they will have one patch that will have a few huge dreads coming off it. You can also many times see them meeting up with people who look similar in order to move to a new street where they will then split up again to tackle different corners in order to get more money.

“To be a “mindful traveler” is to approach our field settings with a level of sensitivity and curiosity that raises our conscious awareness of how we affect the social and natural environments we enter and act upon,” (Slimbach 213). A mindful traveler is acutely aware of potential mistakes they make that could offend the culture they are participating in. If they notice they are making a mistake they change it while a tourist will barely realize. For instance, when I was in Nice one of my friends was saying “Si” and “Gracias” to waiters without even realizing they were taking it as an offense that she was speaking to them as if France spoke Spanish. I told her and she said it wasn’t the end of the world and they kept doing it. This shows a strong distinction between the tourist and the mindful traveler. Our very different views on Europe, where she saw it as a somewhat homogenized area while I see it as a continent like any other made up of wildly different countries with wildly different cultures, of course, there are similarities but when it comes to language I assure you Spain is the only country that speaks Spanish as a national language.

Mindful travel is very important for successful meaningful travel. By actively participating as a more universal citizen you come to understand and respect so much more, broadening your thoughts as a human. I try to look up different word or phrases in the language of the country I am going in order to get by. This shows the host people of a culture that although I may mess up the pronunciation I am attempting to come into their space and not push them out of it by forcing them to speak a language which is not their own.

 

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