Today’s assignment: write a post that builds on one of the comments you left yesterday. Don’t forget to link to the other blog!
I’ve been bad again and did not link to the blogs where I commented yesterday. But since I find today’s assignment so inspiring, I decided to follow up on that regularly, not just today. Today, I’ll do the assignment, but as soon as Blogging 101 is finished, I’ll be a Blog Traveller and visit your blogs, pick a theme, link back to you from here and post my own thoughts about my journey to your blog and your post. Maybe I’ll make it a Travelling Tuesday. If my artistic skills weren’t so rusty, I could even design a little icon to leave for you. Maybe I can come up with something. But long story short, here is my turn on the assignment:
I commented on Tantoverde’s blog (Tantoverde: Simple, Delicious, Vegetarian) yesterday, who wrote how travelling will make the world a better place. A few days earlier, unrelated to Blogging 101, I commented on Cheefhobo’s blog ‘Of Itchy Feet and Beyond’ where he talks about ‘You know how the French are rude, right?‘
Tantoverde describes her own experiences in the USSR and later Russia about how isolated nations see each other, and how that view changes once people have the possibility, through political change and advancing technology, to meet each other, get to know each other and to see each other as people, not as enemies. Travelling, either in person, or through the internet, opens up people’s minds and makes them more understanding towards each other, paving the way for a more peaceful world.
In a different post about travelling, Cheefhobo points out that, other than the prejudice, all the French people he encountered were friendly and helpful. It’s how you approach people when you travel. When you try to learn at least a few phrases of their language, are interested in their culture and don’t look down your nose at ‘inferiour strangers’, then you’ll be welcome almost anywhere and will be treated cordially.
Both these tales are mirroring my own experiences. When travelling, try to learn as much about your host country as possible, people there will appreciate your effort. Many, many years ago, the SO and I were travelling to Crete. This was before the internet, before smartphones, before online translators or anything like it. No blogs!
I had memorized a few phrases in Greek. Please, thank you, were is the bathroom… things you found in the basic language guides of the time. I was also armed with a Greek/German dictionary and my basic knowledge of the greek alphabet–all that education in the sciences couldn’t be totally in vain, could it?
So we arrived on the island in the off-season. We hadn’t made any reservations. Reading the road signs was no problem–we could read Greek, hah! Luckily for us, the names were very similar, in Greek and German, for us to be not too confused.
Finally we arrived at our destination. Dictionary in hand, we stuttered and stumbled, asking where to find the tourist information. There was none. We were in the backcountry. As I said, this was a very long time ago. People wanted to be helpful, they understood us, we were looking for a room. But our mutual understanding ended there. I couldn’t look up what they said, they didn’t understand any English, so they finally showed us the way to the police. They knew some English, some fragments of German, and together with our fragments of Greek, we could communicate (some pantomime was also involved).
One of the policemen knew of a woman who rented out apartments, he escorted us there, we made the contract, and got a lovely apartment, very close to the beach. It was one of the best vacations ever. I’ll never forget how helpful and friendly people were.
The infamous dictionary had another appearance when we were looking for souvenirs to take back. We came to a small shop with lovely ceramics and although we communicated all right by just pointing at items and writing down prices, the shopkeeper was very interested in our dictionary, then invited us to coffee and gave us an additional vase together with the ones we bought. A cynic might say that we hadn’t bargained hard enough, but I don’t care. I was blown away by the hospitality, which I encountered in Greece, in Portugal, France, Belgium, Spain, and many other countries I visited.
Prejudice still abounds between people of different cultures and backgrounds. But meeting and getting to know people makes it harder for everyone to hold on to these prejudices. Some people take longer until they learn, some never do, but the majority does. And that is a good thing. Thank you, Tantoverde and Cheefhobo, for reminding me of this and for bringing back these lovely memories of all the wonderful people I’ve met on my travels.