Came across this interesting article on stuff.co.nz today, entitled “Authentic? Tourists, you’re kidding yourselves”
It’s beautiful in Oaxaca City. The Mexican town so easily charms you with its colonial architecture, its paved streets and brightly coloured buildings.
I’d been having a ball there, drinking in the bars, hanging out in the town square by the church, wandering the narrow streets, drinking in the flavour of the place. I’d never felt threatened or unsafe. I’d actually been wondering what all the fuss was about.
Gang warfare? Drugs and guns? Not in my Mexico. Definitely not in peaceful Oaxaca.
So it was kind of a shock when I found out about the shootings. I’d been chatting to a local woman, talking about the happenings in the town, when she mentioned the two teenage boys who’d been shot and killed – basically executed – in the town square a few nights ago.
When we’re in a foreign country, most of the time we have no clue what’s happening just outside. It’s in the interests of the host nation to keep it this way for the sake of their
That’s the thing about travel: you’re in a bubble. You can convince yourself that you’re getting the authentic experiences, that you’re mixing with the locals and taking in the culture and learning about a society, but if you’re only doing the normal tourist thing, coming in for a week or two and checking out the sights, then you know nothing.
A bit harsh, but that’s exactly what happens with people who endure the long flight from Auckland to Santiago, only to spend days lazing by the pool at the Ritz Carlton.
You’re barely scraping the surface. You’re floating along in the ideal world, sampling great food and chatting to friendly people and experiencing the absolute best that a country has to offer.
Nothing wrong with all that of course. However, if you wish to really enhance your travel experience, especially when you’re going to a non-English speaking country, I suggest you learn a bit of the local language. You don’t need to be able to talk politics in the local lingo, but being able to say hi and order a beer goes a long way towards building relationships. In turn this increases the likelihood of you finding a local friend who will take you further down the rabbit hole.
For those of you fortunate enough to escape the NZ winter, enjoy yourselves and hope you enjoy some “authentic travel experiences”.