The elderly lady pushed her bracelets between me and the two other people at the table. She was obviously unconcerned whether we actually wanted to buy her goods but the tactic seems to be leading people to be so annoyed that they must buy in order to get some peace. She was wearing colorful bell embroidered clothes and her face could have belonged to a 50 year old or a 80 year old, the wrinkles were deep but I couldn’t see kindness in her eyes. It always makes me sad to feel so dehumanized and than to realize that the way some desperate people have of looking at me like I’m a source of money also makes me ignore and dehumanize them.
One of us at the table offered the lady a tangerine since they had several to spare. The lady took it but made a disgusted, unappreciative face to such a meager gift. It was a small gift, but it was a gift that no one needed to give, it was kindness to offer it at all. The old lady scorned the gift and by doing so scorned the kindness from which it was offered. I’m sure she didn’t see it that way, I don’t think she had awareness outside her own needs in that moment. I couldn’t blame her for being desperate enough to look at our white skin as a privilege she deserved a piece of.
She left and we went on talking about adventures and the way we each grow as life flows along. I had went out for a quick breakfast before returning to my hotel room to plan the next months of my trip a bit better. I didn’t plan on being in Luang Namtha but the tour agency lied about when my Myanmar Visa would return so I was stuck for two extra days until I had my passport back.
Just before I paid for my breakfast I saw a friend and they invited me over to their table. It was now four hours later and we were still chatting and playing cards.
Its funny to be how politics come up quite often while traveling. There is something useful in learning what people from other backgrounds think about the world in general. I’ve learned many things in the last four months, I never would have the worldview I have now unless I had the chance to incorporate the ideas I’ve come across into my own world consciousness.
Each person represents their country as some kind of un-appointed diplomat. Since their are few Americans traveling I usually become America and I have to speak for the history and current decisions of the United States. I have to explain my nations consciousness and why certain things seem like good ideas to America whether I think they are good ideas or not. I’ve explained what I think of how Donald Trump can do well in the poles many times and heard many other opinions. I’ve told people about the differences in different regions in the United States and I’ve explained how the general population seems to mistrust the effectiveness of the government so they are eager for change, even different groups wish for completely different directions of change. I don’t know if I am right and I’m sure the people I talk with have the intelligence to realize I am one voice out of 300 million.
Still my worldview grows as much from trying to speak for my country than it does from hearing about other countries. I’ve learned more about the world from talking to strangers than I have from seeing the last 5 countries. I’ve been wondering lately how it can be possible to make good decisions for a country when the person making the decision understands so little about the context that country exists in.
I’ve met so few Americans traveling, I start to wonder how I can meet more Germans than Americans when the US has 318 million citizens and Germany has 80 million citizens. I’ve read that 46% of Americans own passports and 14% traveled overseas in a study from 2009. If all that is true I hope it doesn’t stay true. There are too many things to be gained from seeing the world from a different angle.
I have read another article that states Americans are traveling more than they used to-Link to that.