Thoughts on travelling: an important distinction and recommended books

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Today I’d like to share a reflection of an Argentinean who’s decided to travel the world, challenging mandates, and live from it, writing her stories along the way, to afford her life experience. Hes name is Aniko Villalba and in one of her books, called Travel Days (Días de Viaje), tells us the following:

“In his book The Protective Sky, Paul Bowles writes: ‘He was not considered a tourist; he was a traveller. He explained that the difference lay, in part, over time. While the tourist usually rushes to return home after a few months or weeks, the traveller, who does not belong to one place more than he does to the next, moves slowly for years from one point to another on the earth. And it would have been difficult to say in which of the many places where he had lived he had felt more at ease (…) Because, as he intended, another important difference between the tourist and the traveller is that the first accepts his own civilization without questioning it; not so the traveller, who compares it with the others and rejects the aspects he does not like.’ The tourist seeks to disconnect from their routine and the traveller seeks to connect with the world”.

She continues her own reflection in this way:

“In the distinction between tourist and traveller there are many grey areas: a tourist can behave as a traveller (when they choose the local transport so as not to pay too much, when they eat dodging the circuit of tourist restaurants, when they establish a friendly relationship with a local person) and a traveller can behave as a tourist (when they take photos in front of a famous monument, when they do some excursion where everything is set beforehand, when following the advice and routes of a travel guide). Being a traveller does not imply being outside the system and being a tourist does not imply being inside. Being a traveller does not imply going backpacking and being a tourist does not imply going out with a suitcase (although, in my opinion, light luggage is the most suitable option for those who want to move constantly).

I think there are as many reasons and ways to travel as there are people in the world. Each one travels the way he/she is, according to their way of being and their personality: that’s why all the ways are valid. What matters is to keep your eyes open and try to see a little beyond what is shown. One can go through a place and believe the image one is sold, or can becrossed by reality and see that the show, sometimes, is nothing more than that. Places, like people, have two faces that are not opposite but complementary. The one that draws the most attention is the face that is shown, the embellished one, the one that seeks to please and captivate. The other, the face which is more real and deep, is the one hidden for fear of rejection, which is kept only for those who are encouraged to dive a little more. That’s why I think we also have to know the tourist side of a place: it’s interesting to see what it wants to show to the one who comes from outside, since that makeup surely arises from something deep and has its reason to be.”

What do you think of the distinction that makes this writer called Aniko on tourists and travellers?

With this reflection I would like to launch a new space within this column on Travelling, in which we can recommend readings or books on the subject. This time I recommend Travel Days (Días de Viaje, as it is only in Spanish, for the time being) to anyone who loves to travel.

 

spanish version:

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Jairo Martin
Jairo Martín nacido en Valladolid, España en 1992. Cursó estudios de filología hispánica en la Universidad de Valladolid. Es profesor de español como lengua extranjera y escritor por obligación. "Es la pluma intrépida quien me obliga a emborronar de sueños páginas en blanco". Viajero infatigable en busca de nuevas aventuras, culturas y defensor de los derechos humanos y la justicia.

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