Tuesday, October 09, 2007

community and travel and ethics and and and (this is a rant)

so we are about to move away from all we know and have known as a family to pursue our dreams. but i have so many issues with doing what we're doing. i have so many issues with travel in general.

there was a day that it dawned upon me that the premise of travel (like much advertising) is that to travel will make you a more interesting person- that of course is playing on your existing feelings of inadequacy in terms of your 'interestingness'. The day I realised this to be false was when I went to visit a couple who are hugely interesting (normally) who are in their 60s, have been activists for most of their lives and have done amazing things for women and workers’ rights.... BUT they had just come back from a holiday in Europe. we should have known what we were in for when they pulled out their laptop with their photos and said 'we'll just have the pictures flicking over while we eat dinner' but of course the conversation revolved around the pictures and the tales of their journeys in Europe.

Listening to these stories and being bored shitless made me wonder why I was bored.... and then it hit me- we've been sold a lie! We believe that travel will make us more interesting, we’ve seen particular sites or been to particular cities and colonised the world with our travels. We take much and leave little - but not in a good way.

But how original or unique is it really to say, "Oh I saw the Eiffel tower"? What is really unique in that? What is interesting about trekking a well-known track that millions have done before you?

I wonder if when we boast about our travel are we really boasting about our wealth. My guess is that the majority world may dream of travel in terms of opportunity and better quality of life but we of the wealthy world dream of travel so that we have stories to tell of seeing things and going to places that... lets face it... millions of people have seen before. My hunch is that by travelling - we are hoping to set ourselves apart from the 'untravelled' and also to share stories with the elitist 'travelled'.

My guess is that the conversation that goes "oh I loved Paris, did you make it to blahblahblah while you were there - wasn't it amazing!!!" is really a modern day keeping up with the Joneses...

And then there is the carbon footprint of travel - of the petrol, of the air travel of all the general consumption.

But there is also the cost to community which is what I'm currently most concerned about. If you are going somewhere for a length of time no matter what your agendas and purpose you leave a hole in a community and you take that hole with you as you attemot to make and reenter another community. Your travles convey that the people that you profess to love and cherish are actually not as important as the particular reason that you have to travel.

You create a fracture of discontentment in your community with your pretence that what you are doing is SO interesting and what they are doing.... well isn't as interesting. What a load of CROK. I know for a fact I felt this most acutely while I was staying at home with Oscar. I felt that I couldn't stomach another travel story while I was washing nappies and trying to get a baby to sleep.

But really raising a human being - bringing into the world a new life- mothering the next generation - what can trump that? and all my teacher friends who put so much work and effort into not just teaching but moral guidance and pastoral care - another type of raising the next generation....

the most interesting people I know are not interesting because they've travelled - but interesting for so many other reasons.

We are definitely going on our journey but I hate to think that I'm contributing to a culture that I despise, that plays on people's inadequacies and lack of wealth or oppertunity.

If travel stories are the new capitalism I hope to not contribute to this. but I also want to share MY stories.

have you ever felt this conundrum?

Monday, October 08, 2007


well there has been a severe neglect of this blog on my part. sadly I can admit that I've sold out and have headed to the superficial world of facebook where you can buy fake things with real money and give them to your fake friends.

but there is another reason that there has been a long time between posts. and i'm not pregnant (thankyou Jesus!).

We are moving to East Timor in January 2008 as Alex has been offered a job with APHEDA (Union Aid Abroad) as a community development worker for Farmers' Unions.

all very exciting. all very scary.

more to come on this.....

ps if you are looking for me on facebook I go under the name 'Rachel Ariel'