As you guys know, I recently returned home from more than two weeks in El Salvador and Honduras.
Before the trip, I communicated my intentions to several friends. Some of them were happy for me and wished me a happy trip. Others gave me a nervous smirk and blurted an insincere: “Cool”. In that case the word “cool”, in conjunction with all the facial gestures, was a synonym of “What the hell are you going to do there?” One lady even asked me why my husband was forcing me to visit his family (he is from El Salvador). I explained I wanted to go. With a perplexed expression, she asked me if I was scared. I said no.
I get the situation. When you are announcing vacations plans, it seems like everybody is expecting to hear about “dream destinations”. I mean who doesn’t want to visit the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, the Parthenon or Angkor Wat. New York, San Francisco, London and Sydney are some of the most popular cities in the world. Others are interested in natural wonders such as the Iguazu Falls, the Alps or the Cappadocia landscape. I would love to visit all those places. I admit I often read about the hottest destinations or the next “it” places. However, there is something I have learned throughout my travels.
Don’t be so quick to judge.
In this case, I am referring to judging a country, state or area for the number of appearances it makes in glossy magazines. Or banning a place from my I-want-to-visit list because it is portrayed in the media as too dangerous. I know better than that.
I am addressing this topic because too often I hear travelers debating if it is worth visiting a country or not. The exact words they use are the following: “That country has nothing to offer”. Don’t think this is something I have heard from occasional travelers. Travel bloggers, writers and experts seem to be the ones who like to make this statement more often.
I understand you may not
- Like a place after visiting
- Feel attracted by certain country
- Or are just swamped by all the places you want to visit
But what I don’t get is why there are some who advice not to waste time and money in certain places. This is why I differ from that line of thought.
First, it is important to differentiate between the realities and offerings of a country. You cannot a say a place is “worthless” because of poverty, poor infrastructure, crime, social unrest or corruption. A lot of the world’s most famous sights are within the limits of countries experiencing numerous problems. The social and political situations may obscure certain wonders but you will find out how thousands get to visit every year.
Another aspect is related to the beauty of this planet. Have you noticed the gorgeous landscapes we can enjoy throughout the world? I can’t believe there is one country in this planet that does not share some of this awesome beauty. I have witnessed incredible splendor everywhere I have been. I have seen it in the form of volcanoes, forests, plains, beaches and sunsets.
But let’s say a country is barren and shock full of ailments. What about the people who live there? Are you telling me there are thousands of people who share a unique history /culture and you think they have nothing to offer you? When I think of my best travel moments, locals are always involved. The way they smiled or greeted me. The food they cooked. The stories they shared. The things they thought me about their culture. The time they invited me to their house. People are the ultimate reason I travel. I want to share laughs, conversations and points of view with them. Because I respect them, I cannot say their country is worthless.
You have the right to decide what places you want to visit. But if you truly love this planet and the people who live on it, please take this topic into consideration.
Don’t talk if you haven’t visited a country.
Don’t talk if you visited a country for one or two days and believe you are an expert.
Don’t talk if you only visited a region of a country.
Don’t talk if you believe everything the media says.
Don’t talk if you didn’t meet and talk to the people, the ones that really make up a country.
Lastly, spread the word if you visited an off the beaten path location and had a blast. I have showed some photos of my recent trip to my friends and have to say they are surprised.
What is your opinion on this topic? I would love to read your comments.