When I look back on the amount of travel I’ve done over the years, I realize that the majority of my globe trotting was done in developing countries. I’ve done most of South East Asia, I’ve done some of greater Asia, and I’ve done a significant chunk of Southern Africa. Though all of these places have very little similarities in the their culture, they all share some very similar struggles. Many of them don’t have access to clean drinking water, or proper health care, a decent education, or even the means to come and go from their place of birth. These are all things, that as a Canadian, I’ve never had to experience. I live in a fairly upper-middle class city, with one of the top colleges in the country just a few minutes away, I can drink the water from most lakes and rivers here, and my healthcare system is pretty topnotch, even when compared to other industrial nations in the world. And when I travel to these less developed places, it truly does make me appreciate what I have even more, and admire those individuals that survive on so much less.
That sense of humbleness and gratefulness is not something that the Europeans know very much about, at least, it seems that way. I don’t want this to be a total bash-fest on European travelers, but I’ve now seen enough that I feel like I can make some pretty accurate observations, and come to some pretty disturbing conclusions!
For the last ten days, I’ve been traveling throughout Spain. It has been one of the most fascinating trips I’ve ever taken, but it has also been one of the most difficult. I’ve never really spent much time in Europe, because it’s incredibly expensive, and I’ve always opted to travel somewhere where I could experience entirely different cultures. It’s August here in Europe, and it’s tourist season. Most European countries are on their summer or school holidays, and like us North Americans, that’s when they like to grab the family and go on a trip. First of all, let me discourage you from even considering to travel to Europe in August, because it’s pure chaos, and European tourists, from what I can see, are really quite grumpy!
They manage to complain about a number of things that, as a Canadian, I couldn’t imagine complaining about. They complain when there isn’t enough ashtrays around on the patio tables (oh yes, did I mention that Europe has a love affair with smoking? Still!), they complain about the food, they complain about their accommodation, they complain when their luggage doesn’t come out fast enough. And then, they strut around the city in what seems to be the most vile of moods! For what reason, I have no idea, but in my head I’m thinking, why can’t we all just be grateful?
Spain is a developed country. It has clean drinking water in most parts. It has an incredible infrastructure, and a system of roads and highways that rival what we have back home. There are some places in the world where the main road is nothing more than a dirt strip! What’s more, the Spanish speak multiple languages, so for a European, it’s a much easier place to travel than say, China, where you might find hints of English here and there, but certainly not fluently. So there we have it. A country with all of the amenities needed in life, yet we still find reasons to complain about it!