Saturday, 13 August 2011

Water and Tourists

Isn't it funny how water changes everything? I've written about it before. Lake, sea, waterfall, puddle, river or tiny stream in the woods, it stirs something inside me; I really feel like I am, at last, in my element. 
And suddenly this lake in the south Italian mountains. 
One would have to blink several times to realise it is not the sea. The enormous expanse ceaselessly cascades and ripples far into the horizon, into the mossy hills that frame it; they glitter at night as if a sloth-like giant sprinkled them with gold dust. Lago di Maggiore is forever restless; its surface occupied with motor boats, swimmers, islands... We visited two of those islands, which may well feature in a later post (read: if I remember).

Many times during this adventure, yes, true wonder of an adventure, I realised this: no matter how enchanting a place, I never appreciate it fully, with all the chambers of my heart, that is, until I leave it behind. It's as if my senses don't know how to best deal with this kaleidoscopic flurry of countries, places, landmarks, exhibitions, experiences; the only way is to take everything in and unleash it only afterwards, a sort of backward emotional response. But then, it's easy for a traveller to sigh "it's beautiful!", but do they really feel it inside? Do they mean those words? Or do they just repeat them because they know they are meant to say them? What I am trying to say is how upset - even mad - it makes me when I see tourists busying themselves taking the perfect shot - "Me with _____(insert famous landmark)______, look how tiny I look in comparison!", almost forgetting to stop and really take in with their eyes (if not every vertebrae of their soul) what it is they are so busy trying to capture through their camera lens?! Tourists standing in a perfect semicircle or tortoise battle formation, herded like sheep by a guide parroting well-memorised words. Their faces are predominately in the state of hypnosis, staring at the umbrella or flag their battle lieutenant is hoisting, eyes occasionally flickering, mouths twitching at particularly impressive numbers. But do those numbers mean anything to them? Do these people remember a tenth of what they are told about those places when they come back to boast they've been there to their relatives, hungry for stories and those blasted tourist photos are whipped out again - "golly, you do look tiny in comparison"! 

There is a lot more to be said on this subject, and by all means this is only my subjective opinion. It all sounds very negative, and who am I to judge these people? My only wish is that people - myself included - don't forget how lucky they are to visit these places, and that they do not switch off their senses when they go, and really try to learn something new, something that matters to them. Memories can be drawn out into stories that captivate, souvenirs - at most - gather dust on a shelf. 

Am I being too harsh? I'd be interested to hear your views about tourists and whether one could avoid "touristy" behaviour!

Dress, Zara
Necklace, gift
Straw Boater Hat, gift

Saturday, 6 August 2011