In two days it is one month ago since we left Europe behind. For me it is 1,5 months without an employment. We have come across many people that just as us do not have any occupation to refer to when asked “what they are doing back home”. We are travelling and we do not really know what we will to when we get “back home” because we do not have a home together back home. We do not know at the moment but maybe this year will help us to come somehow closer to an answer of that question.
We have spent the last month in Mexico and we have met a lot of different people. Inspiring people, kind people and open people. People that just like me left the “normal” behind because they felt that something was missing back home. Because they wanted to see something else. Some are in the beginning of their journey and some are in the end. Some call themselves travellers, whilst others name themselves explorers, adventurers, backpackers and so on. They don’t shower and they wear harem pants (generalisation dear readers), are covered in tattoos and have an American accent, or have been to “all the destinations of value” in the country that you are on the edge to explore. Everyone refer to themselves except of what they actually are. They are tourists. We are tourists. I am a tourist. I will be a constant tourist for one year. Because that is the closest “identity” I can put at myself at the moment, if I have to choose one that is defined by the society that we live in today.
Sure, I am I, I am one with everything etc, I am the girlfriend of Josch, I am Åsa, I am Swedish, I am the daughter of my parents. I am also Lindas and Bellas friend and I am the one that Carlos and Christina would leave behind if they had to choose. But that is not what people want to know. They want to know what you are working with. How do you get your income. Because we live in a world where your professional occupation or your university degree is your point of reference, it is what matters, not what you actually have in your brain or how good you actually are to other people and to yourself. But I do not work for an income at the moment. Because I am a tourist.
Convenient enough (talking about fancy university degrees) I happen to have a Master degree in Tourism and Tourism Development. And somehow I actually spent 3 years before that getting a Bachelor in Spanish and Cultural Studies, with focus on the Hispanic world. Hence, wherever we are moving my brain catches up small things regarding the tourism industry where we are at the moment, this is how it have been since I left the university. How do people interact with each other? I see development patterns, marketing strategies, the failure of badly implemented tourism development strategies and policies behaviour, discourses among fellow tourists and the ones that we are exploring, new and interesting ways of conducting tourism. I put it into categories, I analyse it, I discuss it with myself. I break it down to Heideggers authenticity and suddenly I am back at the lonely evenings at the University Library not able to give my brain a break. I discuss it with other people.
Like the boy who sells Quesadillas on the Zócalo where we are at the moment, or my Spanish teacher in Mazunte. Because at the moment everything that I come in contact with and every person that I interact with I do so in my experience of being a tourist. And I am bombarded with commercialised culture, history, landscapes and experiences. Because I guess that the economic and the commercial side is an important factor, without that there would not be tourists. Persons that contemporary travel do a new destination outside their home and exchange money with the people who are based on this new destination.
In other words I am actually “doing something useful with my education” I am actually “taking advantage of all these hard years I spent on university” Because I am doing what I actually really studied; I travel, I have an temporary experience in places where I do not intend to live for the rest of my life and I do so using the touristic infrastructure. I try to immerse into specific parts and contexts in the Hispanic world, and I do so by being a tourist and experience on first hand everything that I actually did study during my masters.
What I have been trying to tell you all the last minutes is that I have decided to write about my reflections regarding ”tourism”, “tourism development”, or the non-existing “tourism development” on the places we are visiting. It might be very general reflections, and they might be very specific. But most of all they will be my objective reflections and thoughts.
Tourism is a well-integrated part of our way of living today and we impose it on the places that we decide to visit, even if we want it or not. And I think it is of greatest importance to be conscious of this when one decides to take a temporary visit to another country. What do we expect of the destinations we are visiting and who have projected these expectations on us?
But just to make some things clear. When I write I understand the concept of tourism within the concept and existence of our temporary social, economic and political system, the reality that people and academic and governmental institutions in the “wester world”. It is another mean to create market value in a specific geographical area through commercialisation. Tourism is often seen as a way to create development in rural and poor places, and it is the fastest growing industry in the world. Many places are experiencing over-development within this area. The local people are forced out of their villages or cities because it became too expensive to live there, or the visitors from foreign countries are just behaving like assholes and force the citizens to change their way of living, since tourism in such a big income factor. The tourist on the other hand is a person that temporary move from the geographical area that they mainly relate to, to a new context and a new geographical area that they only intend to visit during a defined time limit. Of course you can take this concept further, depending on your theoretical framework, in the end it is just a concept.
So, that is all for now. Hopefully I have my first post ready regarding this new “touch” to my blog and we will see where this takes us.