As I slowly rack up airline miles and bragging rights for some of the longest flights in the world, I’ve been pondering this travel bug lifestyle and what it means. As you know, I recently visited the Dominican Republic with my family. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort-a little off beat from my typical travel jam, but nonetheless something you’ve got to experience at least once.
I’ve always been lured to developing countries. The grunge, instability, language barrier and oddities of the locals all contribute to a mystery of confusion and obsession which I have been trying to crack. Take Mexico and Morocco for example, two of my favorite places on earth, and I always leave brimming with new ideas about lifestyles and cultures in anticipation of my next visit. Traveling in these places is an intricate dance that involves creativity and avoiding the not-so-developed potholes and curveballs. That’s what I thrive off of.
In typical Ember fashion, I arrived in the Dominican Republic feeling remorseful for the Dominicans and guilty about my luxurious American lifestyle. Here, I was being waited on hand and foot by people who would probably never have the chance to experience a vacation like this. And for me, it was a last minute let’s get away for the weekend decision.
I’m not saying that I’m made of money or anything, I’m actually pretty close to broke, but the fact that so many people who have touched my life—Mexicans, Palestinians, Moroccans—are in a constant battle to escape corrupt governments, persecution and extreme poverty, and all they did was be born, kills me.
This struggle to understand the injustices in the world has accompanied me every step of the way. How can I account for my obsessive travel when there are others who haven’t eaten in days? Why did I so effortlessly float through college when there are people who can’t read or write because they had to care for sick siblings and tend to the fields?
No, I don’t have an answer. Right now, all I know I can do is attempt to unveil these inequities and spread my knowledge to the world. In my upcoming trek through Southeast Asia my goal is to live as the locals do. Whether that involves trekking through the jungle to find food, playing with children in the street, learning bits and pieces of Thai and Vietnamese or bringing food to the monks each morning, it doesn’t matter. I itch to get off this American pedestal and down to eyelevel with the locals and street people of misunderstood cultures.
I know this doesn’t fix anything, but right now it’s the least I can do to become engaged in a constantly evolving world of poverty and plenty. So here’s farewell to the abundance of America and hello to the bounties of culture, relationships and knowledge.