Tourist v. Traveler

I am now reading The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama.  It is set in Hilo in 1935 and told from the vantage point of Japanese Hawaiians who came to the Big Island for work on the sugar cane plantations. My wish is that I had read it BEFORE our recent trip to Kauai.

Why? 

Because we found ourselves immersed in the Japanese Hawaiian culture during our stay on Kauai.  Our host was born in Kilauea and his father came to Kauai from Japan to work on a sugarcane plantation.  I had no real knowledge about that time or those experiences.  I learned a lot from our host but would have been a much better guest had I done some reading before arriving.  (I read Hawaii by Michener, published in 1959, 100 years ago but have little recall about the history so I don’t think that counts.)

I usually do some pre trip reading, but I must admit that prior to this trip I have viewed Hawaii as a tropical destination from the vantage point of a tourist, and not as a traveler.

I prefer to be thought of as a traveler and one of the ways I do that is by reading about the history of an area and culture BEFORE my travels.

We have taken a number of trips to Italy and have one coming up later this spring.  I have read many books set in Italy over the years.  I do prefer fictional accounts and a mystery is always a plus.  I have read all of the Donna Leon books set in Venice and the Andrea Camilleri series set in Sicily, among others.  

When we visit Italy, we usually stay in an area south of Genoa.  It has been interesting to learn about the Allied bombing of Genoa during World War II: One of our Italian friends, Franca, is from an area just north of there and has memories of her family’s experiences during that time. 

On June 10, 1940, Italy entered the war following Mussolini’s famous speech. From the day after and for the whole duration of the conflict, Genoa – a sensitive target because of its industry and the country’s most important port – was constantly bombarded and slaughtered by the allies from sea and air. In five years, the city endured 86 air raids, of which 51 occurred in 1944.

Claudia Boghino, History of Genoa

Knowing that history has made me more appreciative of both my time in Genoa and of our visits with Franca.  

As I think about our future travels, regardless of the destination, I am going to keep this quote in mind:

“Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in.”

Andrew Zimmern, Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World of Food: Brains, Bugs, and Blood Sausage

Allene

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