Wednesday, August 22, 2012

the walls of Shangri-La

On the phone, my daughter informed me that she and her fiance were going to take a vacation in a couple of weeks -- back to the Dominican Republic they had enjoyed in the past. I was happy for them -- a place of delicious relaxation; a place that was different from the day-to-day work-a-day world ... yum, yum.

But one of the things I have a hard time understanding is how anyone could go to a foreign country and then remain behind the secure walls of one resort or another. My daughter and her fiance always return from these trips with pictures of swimming pools and dining rooms and bars within the resort ... and, oh yes, palm trees aplenty.

When I ask my daughter what it looks like in the nearest town or what historical sites or museums or farmer's markets they have visited or what bit of the language they have learned, well, it's too dangerous: Well-heeled 'white' tourists are ripe for robbery or kidnapping and so ... there are walled Shangri-La's within which to take their ease. It reminds me of a time when I was in the army and in Berlin and I would talk to other Americans likewise stationed there: Many of them never departed from the full-service enclave to which they belonged ... movie theaters, food stores, clothing outlets ... all of them speaking Amurcan and reminding these temporary residents of a home across the ocean.

And with the same fervor that I could not imagine leading such an insular existence when there was so much new and novel stuff so close at hand, so they could not imagine even bothering with it.

It confounds my mind to this day.

1 comment:

  1. You know, I was ripped off doing just what you suggested in a Caribbean country. Afterwards, I went over some of the errors I made and have not make them again during future trips: no nice clothes, not traveling by taxi, no traveling alone at night to experience the local culture.

    Let your daughter enjoy her idea of a vacation.

    Why not take a your own idea of vacation yourself?
    However I do recommend relying on luck and instead that you "be prepared."