Ha Long Bay

 

For many of us the word travel is synonymous with escape.

 

Cat Ba Island

 

Abandoning the responsibilities of our daily lives for a week of pure pleasure.

 

Little Corn Island

 

Soaking in the sun.

Enjoying the sights.

Losing our inhibitions.

 

San Blas

 

Laying on a poolside lounger with an umbrella dressed drink.

 

Costa Rica Beach

 

Photographing castles, temples, and ruins.

 

Playa Blanca

 

Riding a camel in the desert, mounting an elephant in the jungle, swimming with dolphins in the sea.

 

San Blas

 

When the trip is over

we return to our homes, our jobs, our family and friends.

 

lan ha bay

 

We return to our comforts.

We return to our lives.

 

This American Girl

 

Our vacations become memorialized in blog posts, Facebook photos and tan lines.

 

Punta Uva Costa Rica

 

But what about the people

whose reality exists

within our escape?

 

Ha Long Bay

 

The people who actually live

in the place we call paradise?

 

Little Corn Island

 

How does our imprint

on their home

influence their lives?

 

Cat Ba Island

 

How does our desire

to experience a surreal utopia

affect a real place

with its flaws and all?

 

punta uva puerto viejo

 

Do our demands cause a struggling country

to please the white man with the money

no matter what the cost?

 

ha long bay

 

Does our fascination with exotic animals

create an industry that exploits, that endangers, that harms?

 

cat ba island

 

Does our excitement in photographing sacred spaces

transform them into spectacles?

 

Little Corn Island

 

Does our need to sleep along the sea

destroy and develop coastlines

uprooting natural homes?

 

Punta Uva Puerto Viejo

 

Does our curiosity

in a gentle Asian woman

or a sensual Latin man

a novelty, a story to later tell our friends

 

manuel antonio

 

create a culture

detached from connection

because everyone always leaves?

 

Cat Ba Island

 

When you explore new places

instead of coming as a tourist

could you enter as a guest?

 

San Blas

 

Honoring the privilege

to be welcome

into someone else’s home?

 

Puerto Viejo

 

Leaving the place

better

than it was

before you arrived?

 

Lan Ha Bay

 

Living as a nomad

I see myself

on both sides.

 

Lan ha bay cave

 

I am always moving.

I am always leaving others behind.

 

Little Corn Island

 

But unlike a tourist

the road is my home.

 

Traveling is my real life.

 

This American Girl

 

Perhaps to tourists

I am a novelty

that could not possibly

fit into their reality.

 

Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

 

For those on a journey

that ends with security

 

This American Girl

 

am I a fantasy while we are together

to be forgotten when they leave?

 

Lan Ha Bay

 

Or am I

like the beautiful places that I visit

a special, sacred memory

 

Lan Ha Bay

 

treasured in the moment

then respectfully let go

 

This American Girl

 

made truer, stronger, better

because of the people

that I’ve known.

 

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Hello beautiful soul,
In August 2018 I stopped blogging as This American Girl. You can now find me at Camillewillemain.com where I'm sharing my retreats and courses.
Love, Camille