Posted Jun 5, 2011 in Travel | 0 Comments

SKYWHORES UNITE!!! PRESENTS The Boring Traveller

When I was a child ( not that I’m so mature  now), I remember having an urge to travel. Having been born in New York,  my family and I would leave Montreal and drive 6 hours through NY state to reach New York City. Back then Manhattan was non-existant for me. It was Brooklyn true and through. I was the youngest and would sit in the middle of the back seat between my brother and sister. This became a problem when I surpassed everyone in height and still was placed in the middle.

(Yes, dear sister, I still remember you taking up all the space, though you were the smallest. No, I don’t hold a grudge…much.)

The entire 6 hours everyone slept except me and my father as he played music, whistled or sang his favorite songs from the EZ listening soft rock vermont stations and I would read a book,  count signs, or memorize faces along the highway (I always thought we were in a race and I must say, my dad won most of them). I knew from an early age I was meant to travel ( however now I can’t stand the sight/smell of a plane, let alone the people in them).

What I never understood were the ones who didn’t?

I never thought I had a sense of adventure though people definitely say different. But  I love visitng new cities, making new friends, tasting new food, experiencing new cultures. Again, I don’t understand those who don’t.

Yes , I know why should it bother me? Well when you manage to convince someone who doesn’t travel to venture out with you and all they want to do is their same routine. It can become quite frustrating.

The fact that my black friends didn’t know there were black people in France or my Chinese friends had no knowledge that the Caribbean islands were dotted heavily with chinese families numbs me.

My family originated from Haiti and I grew up among in an ethnically  diverse environment. Despite language I noticed  a similarity among the West Indian community, their unwillingness to travel.

Don’t get me wrong, West Indians travel, but only to where there is a caribbean community; such as New York, Boston, Miami, their native countries or wherever there is a carnival. Maybe you would hear of the odd family visiting a relative ‘in a Brixton’. But never Europe, Africa, maybe South America, but ‘hell no’ Asia.

I remember the look on my face when I decided to go to Paris as my first international trip. My mom was floored. Though I have a huge family there, she could not understand why the interest of leaving this side of the Atlantic.

I used to sit in the kitchen while my mom cooked talking, joking,  and bugging her with questions. I would tell her the 2 places I dreamt of most going were London and Tokyo. She would look at me, laugh, and tell me if I was to leave at 6pm, then she would stand there with one arm on her waist calculating how long it would take to walk.  She laughed, I laughed but I always knew I would get there one day.

When I decided (during a commercial nonetheless) that I would go to Tokyo, the fear in her eyes explained it all. The fear of the unknown. In her way she tried many times to convince me to drop this insane idea of going to Asia let alone boarding a plane. The more she spoke the more I planned. I went to Japan and never turned back.

The experiences I had opened me up to a whole new world of exploration, much to my mom’s disappointment. The difference of language, currency, and food were exciting to me and when you’re pushed into a corner , you find a way. Three months I spent in Japan, not knowing a single word, and yet managed to make friends and still, to this day, 11 years later kept in contact.

So again, I don’t understand the West Indians who don’t travel to  different parts of the world, or Chinese who prefer to ONLY eat chinese food despite being in Canada or Quebecois that can’t dream past Florida, Cuba, Mexico, or Dominican Republic. NOTE: 2 WEEKS ON A RESORT DOES NOT MEAN YOU’VE EXPERIENCED A CULTURE.

Friendships have been destroyed on travels. When an adventurer meets the ‘boring traveller’, sparks will fly. Relationships have changed due to this. I have been lucky enough to have dated adventurers… same characteristics. But the odd time when you travel to a destination and your travel partner has one thing in mind, beach, this constitutes a road block. I prefer to travel alone for these reasons. I like to do what I want, when I want as its ‘my’ vacation. If I decide to travel with someone, I tell them from the get go, “I’m doing my own thing. If you want to follow? No problem. If not, see you at dinner.”

But recently I swallowed my stubborness and offered to vacation with a friend in China. Someone I’ve known, liked , and respected, for many years but never truly clicked. I have to admit I was quite worried that he would be a ‘boring traveller’. I was entirely wrong. The role was reversed. I had to keep up with him. He was completely understanding, we did our own things, but definitely did most things together as we enjoyed each others company. The trip instead of weakening friendships has done entirely the opposite, it strengthened. We’ve travelled since to the point that he’s the first person that comes to mind if I have a travelling itch.

The most interesting journeys are the ones off the beaten path. Its funny how people rush to local bookstores to buy Frommers or Lonely Planet for all the sightseeing information  that no one could possibly know about and then get upset when there’s a line up. What did you expect? The book wasn’t written solely for you. Obviously, a few thousand people got the ‘heads up’.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to ignore these guides. But just remember what they are;  guides, not rules. The best way to ‘experience’ is through the eyes of a local. Online chatting is great for that, or old school mates from your destination of interest.

I’ve opened the eyes of many friends from around the world to visit Montreal. They however chose to visit me and not the city. Whether from Asia, Europe, or the U.S., I showed them the ‘locals’ Montreal and what I thought they should see. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the Olympic Stadium.

The biggest market of tourism in the world are the Chinese. Do you know how many chinese tour’s land in Toronto, pass through Ottawa to get to Quebec City completely bypassing Montreal? Its a double waste. Loss of revenue for the city and their loss of experiencing one of the most interesting cities in the world. Of course, I had to convince my friends to visit, now the problem is I’ve convinced them too well. I’ve increased Montreal’s population by 5 people.

All this to say expand your horizons, taste something different, experience something new, exchange with other travellers. Do something you’ve never done before. Don’t be the ‘boring traveller”.

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