Traveller or tourist? Is there a difference?
I’m pretty sure there is. When I’m winging it in a country where I don’t speak the language and I haven’t run into another native English speaker for two days, I’m pretty sure I qualify as a traveller. When I step off a cruise ship into a waiting port in a developing country – I’m definitely a tourist. Lots of grey area in between…
When I’m a traveller, I am more likely to meet the locals and dig under the surface and discover a thing or two. As a tourist, the locals see me as someone with $$$ to spend and while they are generally very nice about it, they are primarily intereste in separating me from my money.
I’m not snooty about either – I love unpredictability and roughing it to a certain extent (though I must have my own toilet and shower facilities.) But there’s something to be said for luxurious accommodation and well organised visits to a place. I wish I had been more adventurous in China – I did a tour and it drove me mad. But Cartegena Colombia was a one-day port on my cruise through the Panama Canal and I was perfectly happy to play tourist for a day.
Ferociously hot, we decided to keep the itinerary easy – visit the Museum of the Inquisition (chilling) and the San Pedro Claver Cathedral (magically mystical) and wander around the old town and get some lunch. Nice. And slow.
In the park in the middle of town, we discovered several Vibrant Colombian ladies, dressed up in “traditional” costume with enormous fruit bowls on their heads. They were there to have their photo taken with us, for $2.00US. They were quite unhappy if anyone tried to snap a shot without paying, but all too happy to pose as if they were your best friend if you did.
What a dilemma! I do have standards and paying a woman to pose like this just goes against everything a serious photographer is looking for. But I’m as big a sucker as the next person I suppose since I took this photo. If it’s a badge of shame, so be it. I don’t think of it as a depiction of traditional costume – more of a record of the ladies in the park. And she was lovely – once we forked over the $2.00.