Open wide: a traveler’s guide to actually seeing the world

If your idea of international travel is all-inclusive, speaks fluent English, and involves limited interaction with people browner than you.

If you are impatient. If you can’t handle uncertainty or chaos or change. If you can’t be bothered to convert to metric, Celsius, or another currency.

If you are scared of your own shadow. If you are scared of vaccinations. If are scared of letting go.

If you are scared of people who look, dress, and sound differently than you do. If you are scared of asking people to repeat what they said because you didn’t understand them the first time. If you are scared of not being understood the first time.

If you are scared of planes, of jet lag, of indigestion, of strangers. If you don’t know a life without internet, without television, without cell signal.

Fuck your bullshit Middle America vacation. Counterfeit kingdoms made of plastic and money. Go somewhere without a fucking trademark.

Embarrass yourself with your poor handle of a new language. Surprise yourself with what you remember from 7th grade French.
Shrug and accept when you’re not supposed to tip. Be generous when you are supposed to tip.

Pack light. Leave your expensive jewelry at home. Run out of clean underwear.
Learn to haggle in cold blood. Tell a scheming cab driver to go fuck himself. Eat some unidentifiable street meat.

Harden. Soften. Figure it out.

Go now. Before everything everywhere changes. Before the safe places turn scary and the scary places turn safe.
Go now. Lose track of time. Get lost. Get confused. Be nervous.
Go now. Miss your flight. Get ripped off. Be a sucker. Experience mudbutt.

Beware of safety, comfort, and luxury. They are frauds and despots who manipulate you with their breezy palm trees and combed beaches and over-salted buffets and frozen drinks with umbrellas.

It’s a trap. Under the guise of protection and relaxation, they lead you to your cage and say, You deserve this. Don’t walk in on your own. Resist the urge to lock the door.

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