Travelling in times of turmoil

"To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries."

— Aldous Huxley

People usually travel to have a good time and the least they want to have is trouble.

 

If you've not been on another planet in the last two years, you might be aware that Brazil has been going through some serious political and economic turmoil, and all the consequences that eventually come along those two: (more) social issues, protests, heated discussions... everything seems to be muddied.

protesters wearing funny superhero costumes holding a sign and a Brazilian flag in background
Protesters in Brazil - Photo by Juliana Mourisca

So it's natural to ask yourself the question, why should you travel to Brazil in times like these?

 

Travelling to a certain location should be a personal choice. You should go to a certain place because it attracts your attention, because you want to learn more about it, its people, its culture, etc. Because you like the music, the food, the architecture. Not because it is the cheapest pick at the catalogue or because it seems to be the place where everybody's going at the moment.

 

A location shouldn't be seen as packaged product ready to be consumed, it is a place where normal people live, just like the place yourself come from, and everywhere there are issues.

 

Just pick any example you wish, be it the constant mass shootings in the USA, the mass shooting in Paris back in 2015, the trucks plowing through crowds in Nice, London or Barcelona. These places are still packed with tourists.

 

Well, one might argue that these were isolated cases, but I personally know an American who backpacked through Middle East, two Germans who did a bike tour from Germany to Siberia through the Ukraine during the heat of the armed conflict, a German who flew to Istambul right after the failed coup d'état, a Moroccan who travelled to the USA merely four months after Trump's inauguration, among others who kept travelling to certain locations despite whatever local turmoil.

little boy holding a tiny sign like if he were protesting at the street
Photo: Juliana Mourisca

I'm not trying to tell anybody to go have a good time in a war zone or region of great famine. I'm merely stating this is where daily life takes place for several people right now. There are physicians who volunteer to work in areas of epidemic outbreak or journalists commited to tell first hand stories.

 

So, if you're unsure about travelling to Brazil, think about its millions of inhabitants right now, who are simply living their daily lives, going to work, to the beach, to the park, to parties, who are having a good time with their friends and kids.

 

Take it as a chance to see it with your own eyes and to decide for yourself. Exercise your empathy, your social awareness, your world knowledge. In the end compare it to the information we get through the looking glass. Discuss it with others.

 

I'll never forget the advice from a good Chinese friend when I asked her if things in China were like they are shown in the media, she answered, "the best way to know is to see it for yourself."

 

I wish you all happy travels.