Friday, March 30, 2012

Be a Traveler


Recently I was reminded of something I heard and took to heart on one of our many cruises.  "Be a traveler not a tourist," the speaker encouraged.  His point of reference was our upcoming visit to an underdeveloped island nation.  "Remember this is an emerging country.  Do not expect things to be as they are in the U.S.," he advised.  "Embrace the differences.  Treat the inhabitants of your host country with the same respect you would like to be shown from someone visiting your country."  Good advice no matter where your travels take you.

It is with this thought in mind that I visited a rain forest in the Dominican Republic, a banana plantation in Costa Rica and the national zoo of Belize.  And while the way of life was foreign to me, the pride emanating from my hosts was palpable and something in which I could identify. When an extremely rude countryman of mine derided our mode of transportation along with the number of exotic animals on display in the Belize zoo I cringed with embarrassment.  A tourist indeed, and a spoiled whiny one at that.

We are currently on the road.  Working our way north to Nashville and then east to NC.  We decided on this trip to steer clear of the interstate and make our way through the small towns of north Florida and south Alabama.  Listening to the chatter around me at our various stops I was reminded once again to "be a traveler not a tourist."  Because even within the confines of my own great country, regional differences abound.  English is the same, yet different.  Food the same, yet different.  A traveler embraces these differences and celebrates them.

I choose to be a traveler.  How about you?

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