After the almost-deadly ride to the border, I have crossed it successfully, tried to hitchhike and – maybe for that reason – got an incredible deal from a taxi driver who even shared some of the amazing Turkish/Arabic/[not to sound ignorant] Oriental coffee with me on the way. I’ve reached Amman, met up with some truly wonderful people (“you know who you are!”, as people say), and then, for several days, I continued having that awesome time with my college friend and some of her friends. In fact, we seemed to continue our tradition to meet in different continents after graduation (Southeast Asia was last year).
There’s a blog entry on Petra coming up (I thought maybe a World Wonder deserves a post though…I’m not sure if I blogged about the Taj Mahal!) but let me dedicate this piece to one general feeling that I am really not a fan of: feeling like a [rich] [white] tourist.
OK, out of the two adjectives and one noun, one does describe me indeed. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of classifying people in terms of their looks (the more you travel, the more absurd the idea of three major races seems, right?), but, screw it, I am rather white. A tourist? Highly questionable. Rich? The answer to this question is simply my laughter. So why would I ever be categorised or feel like this?
Let me illustrate this with our trip to the Dead Sea. I mean, yes, by default, it’s a touristy place, but hey, what can you do? What was worse than appearing a wealthy ignorant tourist, I thought, was not to go there precisely because of this reasoning.
So we did. After a ride in a local bus with some pretty intense stares, we caught a cheap cheap taxi and…started wondering.
“There is a public beach, but, apparently, it’s not that great. The private ones are much nicer, and they have showers. Don’t the public ones have showers? What? Wait, can you actually be in a bikini (screw weird tan lines, I have enough of them. Also, not in a +42C, thank you) in a public beach? Where is that public beach anyways? Why are the private ones so expensive? Where can we eat? And why is there so much confusion on a way to this unique point on the planet???”
The time came when we had to put an end on that debate (meaning: the taxi driver had to actually take us somewhere).OK. Decided: let’s go to a private beach. The cheapest one, but, damn it, still expensive.
Was it nice? It was, definitely. Could we afford lunch in that single restaurant that they had there? Not really. Should I feel bad about complaining how nice it was? Certainly. But so we had a lovely time finding some refuge in the shade, eating biscuits (that was all we could afford there, basically), seeing that the heat has turned my friend’s chocolate into, well, hot chocolate (her backpack serving the function of a cup), floating in the sea, and ah yeah, I almost seriously burnt my feet thinking it would be OK to walk those fifty metres to the sea quickly (and a quick walk it was, as increasing pain was turning a that walk into a run, accompanied by lots of loud “ouch”-es).
It was our time by the pool where those thoughts hit me even harder (woah, if you only keep the very last part of this sentence, it can be placed out of context!). I looked around, and so it was us, three students, backpacking and couchsurfing most of the time, and…the REAL tourists. It was easy, I thought, to spot the weird ones in this picture. I looked at a group of, I’m guessing, Scandinavians, looked at myself again, then looked back at them. This is when a brilliant question comes in: “Am I….am I as white as the other white people?” My friends looked at me, checked the other people out, and gave me, indirectly, such a nice compliment: “No, you’re fine.”
I would like to say that, most of the time, I do feel comfortable about myself in various places. But, I guess, I do feel more comfortable on a back of a scooter going from one cheap pub to another inexpensive club in Chiang Mai than in a fancy resort. Was this really a discovery for me? Not exactly. Will things change with time? Who knows. But if my life choices have taken to such awesome places even without being a rich white tourist, I think it’s pretty sweet.