Have you ever wondered what it’s like for people of different backgrounds and cultures to travel? As a Caucasian, American, female I’ve always been amazed at the varieties of treatment I’ve gotten based solely on my accent and skin color. I’ve had a wide variety of roommates and we would often stay up late at night discussing different cultural differences. I want to conduct a series of interviews from different viewpoints focusing on solo female travelers. Women in general are paid less than men, and have to be more cautious when traveling alone, which makes successful adventure stories all that more of an accomplishment. I wanted to share some experiences that will hopefully give confidence to other female wanderers.
The first person I wanted to interview was a former roommate of mine in Belize. My friend Elizabeth who is from Monterrey, Mexico speaks 5 languages, has a masters in education, and has traveled all over the world. I really enjoyed her insights, and hope you do as well.
How do you feel when traveling both domestic and international?
Travel is my passion. I simply love to travel and get to know new places and new people. When I am traveling within my country, I always feel at home, because I know what to expect, where to go, if a place is safe or not, or where I can get the best food for the best prices (Mexican markets are always a nice option to get awesome food for incredibly cheap prices) Every state in México has a different culture and typical food, so I always feel I am learning new things from the locals.
Going to a different country is always exciting for me. Usually I do a little bit of research before getting there, so, when I arrive, I know how to get to the places I want to visit, the food I should try and the best way to get around. But I always try to learn as much as I can from the place I am visiting while I am there. I never judge their way of living or compare the local traditions with my own beliefs or customs, I just learn and listen. That way I bring back home with me not just pictures and key chains, but lifetime memories and lessons.
How do people treat you on your travels to both domestic and international destinations?
I happen to be a very tall person and maybe because of that, when I am traveling within México people think I am foreigner. When I start speaking Spanish to them, they always ask me where I am from (usually people think I am either from Colombia or Venezuela). When they notice I am Mexican, we always end talking for a bit. Mexican people are very friendly and nice, very hospitable, and to be honest, I love to ask a lot of questions to locals, because I like to learn. So, many times I have had a wonderful time talking to vendors and as a plus, good discounts on handcrafts or awesome tips about places to go or good local restaurants.
Around the world, Mexico has earned a good reputation for its food and beautiful touristic places. Also, many people had spent their vacations somewhere in México. So, when I am abroad and people ask me where I am from, and I answer: “México”, everybody is excited and start talking about their wonderful time at Cancun, or how much they love Mexican food. I do speak enough English to communicate with people, so I had a lot of nice conversations and met lots of interesting people thanks to my Mexican background while traveling. I´ve met Kesha´s jewelry designer at New York, a wealthy Indian owner of almost half of the shops at Belize, an Arabian student from Dubai at Guatemala and a Peruvian backpacker at Cuzco. Ah, and we got French pastries for free at Montmartre (Paris) and a super cheap shared taxi ride at Alicante (Spain)…Viva México!
How do the people around you view your travels? Your family, friends, and colleagues.
Well, I have to say I am a private person. I travel just because I like it, not to tell people about it. I know that normal people post pictures of their vacations on social networks, to share it with friends, but I am not that way. My best pictures and stories are just for me, my family and my close friends, and that´s all.
My family knows how much I love to travel, so they are always happy for me, even if they miss me when I am gone, because they know this is what makes me happy. My friends think I am very lucky to have the opportunity of traveling a lot, and so do I. Right now I am my own boss, so I have no colleagues to talk. Sorry.
Is there a particular aspect of travel that you enjoy?
My favorite thing to do when traveling is to get a cup a coffee to go and then walk all around the place by myself. I love to walk by myself, going wherever I want to go whenever I want to do it. Eventually, I always end sitting somewhere, thinking about lots of things and feeling relaxed and happy, ready for the next part of my trip.
Is there a lesson that you learned while traveling that you would like to share with others?
Traveling together is the best way to gain a friend for life of to lose a friend for life.
How do you feel traveling has changed you?
I´ve learned how to survive in almost everywhere. I can eat and drink almost anything (except water from a dwell without boiling and iguana eggs) After visiting a rough area and loving the experience, I just felt as Frank Sinatra when he sang “if I can make it there I am gonna make it… anywhere”. It wasn´t New York, of course, but I feel all my trips taught me something that made me a better person.
Is their a personal experience you would like to share?
The best trip of my life was when I went to Europe with my friend Gloria. She´s an awesome person, a great friend and a professional traveler. All sorts of things happened to us. We lost each other on Madrid´s airport and ended lost for hours. Then, at Paris, we took the wrong train from the Eiffel tower to our friend´s house and got down in a train station full of suspicious people (we were the only girls there, and felt so scared that we squeezed ourselves into a phone cabin while waiting for our friend). The food at Europe were so expensive that we ate just one time for the day, so we lost like 5 pounds each in a few days. Our flight back home was delayed, so we had to sleep 4 hours at Terminal 4 of JFK airport at New York and another 4 hours at Dallas. We did spend every euro we had, when we arrived at Dallas we had just a few coins with us! But thanks to Gloria´s marvelous personality and sense of humor, I remember everything as one of the best adventures I ever had.
Contructive criticism is great. I welcome questions or comments that could make future blogs more interesting and beneficial for others. Mahalo in advance.