Friday, January 15, 2010

Accompany at your own risk:

I have done a fair share of traveling in my short life - I've traveled some of the time and with companions some of the time and I guess what I'm learning is that people should accompany at their own risk.

I'm sort of particular when I travel and I'm not terribly patient.

  • Yes, I'm an American but that doesn't mean I have to go to American stores or restaurants, act like an American or advertise that I'm an American. As a matter of fact, I would rather avoid Wal-Mart, McDonald's and any actions seen as typically American. I don't think this is all that different from my behaviors while I'm in the US, though.
  • I don't want the help that is offered to me - that cute little man with the badge kindly offering a tour of the Cathedral? He wants my money. I don't want to give it to him. I know how a church works, I don't want to waste $5 for 15 minutes of bullshit. I also don't care if that is how he makes a living - there are plenty of other suckers out there who can support him. Or he could get a job that doesn't rely on my patronage.
  • I'd rather spend a minimal amount of money on things like transportation, I also like to blend with a crowd and keep up the pace. I don't want to stop and look confused, I don't need to look at every map and I will clutch my purse to me like it's full of riches, even if I only have a hundred dollars and a camera worth about as much. Don't try to sell me anything either.
  • When in a foreign country, unless that country's food is disgusting, theirs is the food I'd like to eat. I want to eat Authentic food, street food, food from family owned restaurants. I also want reasonably priced food. In many places that means cheap food.
  • If I don't speak the language, I don't speak much. I prefer to be quiet and inconspicuous. Sometimes it is impossible to be inconspicuous - like as a Guera - but I still like to keep my nationality and my preferred language to myself.
  • I try to avoid colloquialisms and slang terms - there are some things that don't translate well and if I must speak English to a non native speaker I would like to keep it simple and easy to understand.
  • I walk. A lot. I'll walk miles in a day without any particular destination. I like to just get absorbed in a culture and see what happens.
In some ways, this has made for fool proof traveling - I don't often get ripped off, I have never been robbed, I always find my way eventually and I tend to enjoy myself. Still, I can see how some of my quirks as a traveler might get on the nerves of my companions.

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