Where are all the Americans?

28 Mar

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?

In cusco.

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!

6 Responses to “Where are all the Americans?”

  1. Lillie M. at 4:38 pm #

    Oy vey… Americans, let’s branch out!!! I found a similar thing in Asia: http://www.aroundtheworldl.com/2009/09/19/where-are-the-american-rtw-travelers/ (“Where are All the American RTW Travelers???”)

  2. bzalto at 4:45 pm #

    I think you it the nail on the head. I know many people who are so indoctrinated by the media that they fear traveling anywhere outside of the USA. I found, as you guessed, that more US citizens are to be found in Europe than in SA. That may be because our roots are there and we feel more comfortable.

  3. Sarah A at 6:20 pm #

    Can’t wait to follow in your footsteps and travel to so many places. Though as Indian/Pakistani/Candadian/American, I’m not sure how I’ll affect the statistics…

    Keep writing, Chica. Love your blogginess!

  4. Mary Lou Reid at 8:29 pm #

    I don’t know Aurora. I traveled all over Europe after I had worked for a year and saved money (by living with my parents – not ideal). Then…got married. No dinero. Had 3 kids. Really no dinero. Finally got them educated, launched into independence, and married. REALLY no dinero. So here we are…finally in a chapter where we can travel again to more interesting places than Florida…and we are. Most of our friends are in the same position – now. I wonder how many of those you meet traveling are supported by parents or who aren’t interested in – or in a position to – beginning a family yet. It really all gets down to money, doesn’t it? And feeling secure…especially those who have the depression stories as part of their family history. My son just returned from a week in England with his 10 and 5 year old. He and his wife both have jobs that offer mucho dinero and are quite secure financially. So…your answer is quite complex but I think has to do with money, security, values, and priorities.

  5. Carol Kushner at 11:18 pm #

    Very interesting, Aurora. I think you have the beginning idea for a book here–why travel in the first place, and what it brings us.

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