Did We Lose Something?
“But what do they have that we don’t? Or rather, what do they still have that we have lost? Why are they not afraid to open the door, to pick up a hitchhiker, to do a favor, to introduce us to their friends and family, to share? In short, why are they not afraid of “the other”? Maybe the question is not right. Maybe the answer can’t be found with them, but with us. A better question might be: Why are WE afraid?”
The other night, my partner and I arrived in a small port city in Chilean Patagonia. Our boat was 15 hours late, which is nothing unusual here, it happens. We landed around 10 p.m., without a place to sleep, without a direction to go, without a plan. The local hostel offered us the typical tourist price, so we decided to get out of the city and camp outside instead. The weather didn’t seem too cold; the rain not too intense.
So there we were, walking toward the countryside for less than five minutes, when a taxi stopped next to us, and the driver asked us where we were going. “I don’t know,” I answered him honestly. “We don’t have money and the hostel is too expensive, so we are going to camp outside.”
“But we don’t have money.”
“Doesn’t matter! Get in!”
And there we were, in Rolando’s (a.k.a. Rolo) car. He said that he was a traveler too. He had come from the North and was “hanging out” there for a while. Then he told us that he had friends who lived not far from there, and that he would ask them to host us. Ten minutes later, there we were: in a warm house, with a tea, a beer, some weed, and infinite gratefulness for our host and for Rolo.
This was not a unique case, it happens all the time! Maybe not always so quickly, but with the same strong feelings. The family who invited us to eat with them, the people who shared their culture with us, the ones who hosted us when we just met; the driver who picked us up when we were hitchhiking, who tried hard to find us a place to sleep for the night; or the friend of a friend, who barely knew us and could barely communicate with us, deciding to take his whole day off to show us the area. Because here, in Chile, people share what they have, even if it looks like they don’t have very much.
But this is wrong. They have a lot, so much more than us. But what do they have that we don’t? Or rather, what do they still have that we have lost? Why are they not afraid to open the door, to pick up a hitchhiker, to do a favor, to introduce us to their friends and family, to share? In short, why are they not afraid of “the other”? Maybe the question is not right. Maybe the answer can’t be found with them, but with us. A better question might be: Why are WE afraid?
TV teaches us to fear every street, that the other is dangerous. I’m not saying that danger doesn’t exist; being confident doesn’t mean being an idiot. But we change into exactly what we fear. We become an actor, rather than a witness, to the pain of the world. Fear and aggression aren’t what matter most in this world, despite what we are told, despite what we think we see.
The world is better than we, in our “comfortable and safe society,” might have believed. The world is good. People take care of travelers and help each other.
It is necessary to make our own experiences instead of believing what other people say to us. What is the difference between the propaganda of another country and what school teaches us, and the fear that the media teaches us? Let’s leave home! Let’s go see the world! Let’s turn off the TV, even for a moment. It is in being what we want the world to be that we have the chance to enjoy the good things and to become an actor in this.
Some people will think that I am an idealist. That what I have said doesn’t take into account the awful things that have happened in the world. But that’s wrong. I was in front of the TV during 9/11; I was already traveling during the attacks in Paris. I don’t have my head in the sand. I am just saying that there is more than just this fear. There is good, and much more of it than we once believed. For example, during more than five weeks of travel in Chile, I have not spent more than four or five nights sleeping outside. The kindness of people has warmed me, fed me, and made me cry from happiness. I’m not saying that the world can be good; I’m saying that it IS good! We just have to look away for few seconds, from the things we are used to seeing, from the things the people tell us to watch.
I always believed that the world wasn’t worth the trouble. Now I realize how wrong I was. We just lost something.
Originally written by Sebastien Lambrosi via https://skullythetraveler.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/article-01-did-we-have-loose-something/