Where are all the Americans?
The other day on my bus ride to Copacabana, all the passengers had to sign in. I was struck, glancing over the list, that I was the only American. The list was full of Brits, Germans, Frenchies and, of course, many Israelis.
Over the past 7 months, I have met very few Americans. Oh, sure, one or two here and there. I have heard American accents once in a while. But, by and large, Americans are not traveling the world. The hostels are full of young Euros and Israelis, and here in South America — other South Americans. But no North Americans.
I find it curious. Why aren’t we traveling? Surely it is within our reach — well, other than our abysmal health care system that has the potential to cripple young people without insurance. Oh, and those college loans that other young people from around the world do not have. Ok — so other than those two details — why aren’t we traveling? Sure, it can be expensive, but I am making it on 30$/day(mostly) and there are plenty of resources out there to make it happen.
Part of it, I think, is that we have so much in our own country. I mean — I could a year (or more!) and travel to all the national parks in the US (and how awesome would that be?! Add that one to the bucket list….). I also wonder how many Americans I would meet if I was, say, backpacking through Europe? Would it be different there?
Then, of course, there is the American mentality of work-work-work. We work a lot. Like — a lot a lot. Maybe it is chasing the American dream. Maybe it is to pay off the student loans. Or maybe it is just to have health insurance.
But — all that got thrown out the window when I discovered the answer to my question: Where are all the Americans?
They are all in Cusco.
I have been overwhelmed in the past few days by the number of Americans who are here. Sure — it is the jumping off point for Maccu Pichu. But…. there are pretty incredible places to see all around the world (how about the beaches of Southern India? or the mountains of Nepal? The temples of Thailand? the list goes on and on…)
But, no, they are HERE. So… why here and not…. there?
I am not sure. Perhaps it has something to do with safety? We are fed, in the US, a steady stream of news about how the world reacts to us. There can definitely be a feeling of… defensiveness, maybe? If you were to watch the news or read the paper in the US — it is hard to not feel insular. Tough to not feel that the world is not a friendly place.
But of course — nothing could be further from the truth. Even in Vietnam, even in Bolivia — places where our governments have had… er… differing opinions, people are kind, generous and ready to help (even if they don’t smile much in Bolivia!).
I love that I have students who read this blog (as well as friends and family) — and I hope that they view the world differently. I hope that they go out there and check it all out and discover how great it is out here!