Develop a travel heuristic

2024-06-27 @Travel

I defend seeking more personalized relationships with countries. This to contrast the often extensive, nigh arbitrary yearnings across vast distances lacking but the most generalized notions.

For unless you cultivate a distinct filtering process, this second approach near surely yields to more expensive and laborious travel. Lacking parameters around the really meaningful and the superficial, you’ll surely acquiesce to more general tourist activity: expensive, for one, and far from meaningful across the board, should you not convince yourself otherwise to rationalize economy.

With me, it tends to begin with language, though not exclusive (further below). Imagine the following causality pattern:

  1. Initial cultural intrigue - for reasons imputed through varying exposure.
  2. Gradual cultivation of the vulgar language - being indispensable to genuine rapport with people.
  3. Language opening more abstract, ethnographic and epistemological avenues.
  4. Greater sympathy for the peoples
  5. More extensive cultural interest - ie literature, arts, music.
  6. Visit the country

The final step need not strictly occur last, but somewhere in the sufficiently mature stage having developed some firm relationship with the said country.

Naturally I avoid visits devoid of the depicted (or similar) framework: save briefly, typically for thoroughfare, neighbor proximity or visa-runs.

As for me, Brazil stems foremost from the language, the people, the diverse music tradition, the afro influences, the gastronomy, the literature, the alternative religions and even Capoeira in the younger stages.

Though I couldn’t take genuine interest in most of the above if not for the language. Language was indispensable to making Brazil like a home for me.

Mexico: unique, fraternal relationship; US’s neighbor, a powerful influence throughout the country of strong presence anywhere I’d resided. My sympathy for Mexico and its people I found inseparable at the geopolitical and ethnographic level; part of what defines the States.

And then take the broader mesoamerican expanse (Mayan, Olmec, Aztec, etc). With that in hand, you can establish focused travel: each indigenous presence typically concentrated around a particular region.

Irrespective of whatever conflicts two coexisting groups (whatever the two) share over the course of history, one must consider the broader picture transcending politics and evincing a multidimensional cultural exchange.

My affinity for Poland reflects the beautiful Slavic variety of language with all its morphological nuances, the long and complex history and the relationship with the Slavic and Baltic neighbors, that region integral to my identity. Artistic contributions then follow; literature, not the least. The other day I explored the Adam Mickiewicz museum for hours, discovering the wider influence and unfamiliar oeuvre. That’s part of it.

It follows that to cultivate a travel heuristic it behooves you to produce similar rationale. And then I’m further inclined to restrict movements to the economically plausible. Establish such a system and you’ll soon find a very modest travel map.

Fail to establish that, or confined to alternate, extrinsic driving factors and, beyond the already mentioned, you’re liable to derive and amplify negative influx, as I’ve been witnessing here in Poland of diverse ethnicities otherwise devoid of a deeper relation: ie drawing indifference, racism, nationalism, unfriendliness, antagonizing demeanor, intractable gastronomy (usually in strong reference to certain external standards), etc; you’re more likely to cling to one particular lens.

Establish not the heuristic and you incline yourself towards disappointment rather than sympathy. That is, there’s boundless element to sustain both polarities.

So seek to develop deeper sympathies from the foundation.

(By the way, when I speak of particular interests I refer to something somewhat singular to the nation. Interest in football is unlikely to compact your options.)

Now in the case of something like Poland, I prefer it through diverse lenses: internal liberal, internal nationalist, the soviet, the further western, the cultural. That variety eases objectivity.

Or explore your roots, another popular pursuit. Maybe you’re a quarter Polish, Lithuanian, Bohemian or Visigoth; that much more predisposed to the destination.

I’ve held increasing interest for older civilizations and especially those where Jews coexisted for lengthy periods. Which naturally leans me towards Maghreb (Morocco/Algeria/Tunisia), Persia, Babylon and the Arabian peninsula to name a few (further reinforced by both secular and religious academic curiosity); in addition to my hardly exhausted visits to the Iberian peninsula.

Not that I’ve much ease of movement to some of the above: whether for concerns of economy - being considerably distant, or concerns for certain recently historical (20th/21st century) politics. But none of the recent altercations conflict with my broader interest in histories spanning millennia.

Questions, comments? Connect.