Do these things make you a spoiled traveler?
If you come from an economically well developed country and then travel to a less if not very little developed country with predominantly what you’d refer to as poorer areas, you know what I mean when I say you have been spoiled: You were lucky enough to not have to worry about taking showers out of buckets or buying electricity manually, and having pretty much any type of food you want at your convenience. You used to take washers and dryers, pressured showers, and kitchens for granted.
Before I came to live in Tanzania for a bit, I had been to few developing countries and if I had, I only drove through the poor areas, but always stayed at places that were not too different from my homes in Germany or LA, so I had nothing to really adjust to. That has now changed. And because right now I live in an apartment in Africa’s fastest growing city Dar es Salaam, I know that life here is still “luxurious” compared to how villagers in developing countries live!
Now here are the (insensitive & spoiled) things I catch myself saying or thinking when I’m traveling through developing countries and to which I’m sure you can relate!
In the city: “I can’t sleep because of croaking frogs!” Which come out during rainy season. What a problem to have – eh?
In nature: “I can’t sleep because of hyena screams and zebras or other animals passing my tent.” Tent with bed, shower, and toilet to be exact. How many people get to experience a safari and stay in a luxury tent? Yeah – not many.
“What do you mean there’s no running water?”
“How am I supposed to wash dishes without running water?” And currently no kitchen -> no sink.
“Am I really going into the backyard with a bucket to get water from there?” Because going into the backyard is so much more effort than walking to a fountain for miles.
“Am I really taking showers/flushing the toilet with buckets right now?” At least it’s so hot that the cold water feels quite good. And: having a toilet is luxury compared to other places.
When friend explains how African villagers do laundry. Me: “Oh yeah, I’ve seen this. But only on TV.”
“I have to boil water every time I want to drink it? Why not just buy bottles?” Saving money?
“Why can’t I rely on him/her doing XYZ at the time he/she said it was going to happen?” I guess that’s where African time comes from (for white people who say this is racist: this is NOT racist. If you had more African-American, African or Latino friends, they’d joke about this with you! Ain’t nobody showing up at a Mexican function on time because they know they’d be helping setting up!).
“Do I really have to share my dishes/kitchen/bed with ants, bugs, etc.?”
“Why can’t we just turn on the A/C? I mean, it’s 35°C (95°F). Oh yeah… right… It’s too expensive. Fan…? Non-existant. Ok…” Not realizing that having an A/C is quite the luxury in itself.
“I can’t clean fruits and veggies with tap water only and then eat them?” In South, Africa or Morocco for example, that may give you diarrhea for days.
“Woah, can’t believe I got this medicine over the counter. In other countries, these need to be prescribed.” Doctors making money off prescriptions in developed countries?
“I can get Malaria here?! So scary!,” I thought before playing Monopoly with someone who had Malaria.
“What do you mean that’s some white people shit?” To give an example: The vast majority of black Africans would NEVER go cage diving with white sharks because they respect nature way too much.
“I fucking hate it when people try to rip me off because I’m white.” We’re the ones traveling after all. People here are not – so who has more money? Still don’t think it’s cool to rip people off…
“Kids want to touch my hair? That’s so cute!” People with afro hair – I know it’s definitely not cute just randomly touching your or your kid’s hair :p 😉
“Why are people staring at me so hard?” Do I really look that different? Of course, I know the answer to this question already.
“Can people stop calling me mzungu? It’s annoying.” Mzungu means explorer in Swahili but it’s commonly used to refer to a white person. Fun fact, in some villages, I’d be called a Chinese because of my light skin color and because people are not aware of the difference between Europeans and Chinese. Chinese are people with a light skin color for them.
“I can’t walk at night? I can’t even take a bajaji (tuktuk) at night?” Definitely missing these safer European or NYC streets.
“I don’t clean my chicken bones right?” Only an African will tell you this. I leave out the cartilage and whatever else is not soft meat or crispy skin.
“So this is what real oranges look like.” First time I had a REAL orange I learned that they’re actually green/yellowish, and look everything BUT orange. “Only white people buy orange oranges,” says my African friend.
“What do you mean it’s funny how I eat my orange?” I took off much of the white stuff that I found too hard to chew on.
“I can’t walk barefoot in the grass?” Hey there, snakes and scorpions!
“Even the big busses have no A/C? FUCK!” Mmmmh, don’t you love exchanging body fluids with other sweaty people around you!
“I’m having a culture shock.” Boohoo. Us travelers are still way more privileged than most people in this world.
“Internet here is slow as shit!” Well, lucky us for even having Internet and Wifi-capable devices!
So what am I learning from these moments that there will be many more of?
To be grateful for the things I have and to be grateful for things I’ve been taking for granted. To appreciate little things and to be happier with less.
Were you able to relate to most of these? Please tell me a story in the comments (or more) where you realized you acted spoiled AF 🙂 Also, I’d love to know what you learned from your spoiled moments!
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