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January 10, 2013

The Art of Blending In

Picture credit: Flickr/cogdogblog

Vagabonding should be about slipping into the cracks, reaching low, widening our perspectives into the hosts’ societies to enlarge our own ideas of them. Great: it sounds pretty simple on a screen, but oh boy, how it is not. My own experiences of living long term in several host countries have taught me that, instead, to go deeper you have to earn trust. And this is something that does not happen out of the blue. People, every way we look at them, are complex organisms. The brain, especially, has millions of subtle ways to defend itself. Have you ever spent time trying to really weigh the amount of real, insightful information we are getting when approaching individuals from other cultures? Sometimes, the sheer fact of being outsiders – and especially of the white type – is enough to warp experiences.

Spending more time in a single place may help, but at times is not really enough, either; I guess the secret lies in the way we approach people. At times – at least, this is my personal experience- we may look too serious trying to make a positive, authentic impression. The way we try to lower our defenses and expose our real objectives may put off people, same as being too relaxed may indispose them. And most times, people are the only “pieces of information” who may really open up our travels to the best, widest experiences. Trust, however, is a mutual contract and has to be negotiated accordingly in order to propel that subliminal feeling of really having experienced, having been there. I think that without working hard on earning the trust of others, even those who seem the most insignificant at first, we will not find a sense in our own inner research – a consequence of travel. And as much as this post may have brought up my complicated, thoughtful side, I feel of the utmost importance to open up the new year by wishing that every vagabond out there may find himself by earning the trust of others, and being the best human being he can be as he/she crosses the boundaries of this World.

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Category: Notes from the collective travel mind, On The Road

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