Monday, June 11, 2007

Being a tourist

Since I arrived in Brazil in May up until this past Wednesday (when I took a trip to Brasilia), I have been in downtown Belo Horizonte, in the state of Minas Gerais. Belo Horizonte (literally, “beautiful horizon”) is perfectly located to suit my purposes. Although it is not a tourist city, I can easily access the major tourist spots from here. This allows me more opportunities to explore more of Brazil, and it frees me from constant exposure to the fanfare, extravagancies, and downright egocentrism characteristic of tourist cities, which can sometimes be a sort of mental prison in the sense that one can feel that this is where one should be. ------------ (Insert city) –is-the- place- to-be-Why-would-you-want-to-go-anywhere-else mentality.

Ever since I read Jamaica Kincaid’s A small Place, with her decidedly unapologetic and powerful statement that “a tourist is an ugly human being,” I have been more conscious of my role and purpose as a tourist, especially since I have noticed that sometimes a touristy place becomes altered—-sometimes negatively, in the opinion of people with an interest in the natural order of the place—-to suit tourists. Being a tourist can be a weird and unsettling role to occupy. On the one hand, one wants to observe and admire the natural beauty of a site, but by carrying out that desire, one’s presence invariably (eventually) alters the site.

In my next post, I will tell you a little bit more about my thoughts on my main city of residence in Brazil: Belo Horizonte. I would love to include pictures with my post, but I won’t have posting or printing access to any of my pictures until I get back to the USA.

Until my next post, Tchau!

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