What Is Your Destination to Tick off From Your Bucket List?
Your friends are more likely to visit beautiful old cities like Venice, Prague, Amsterdam or Barcelona.
Or another destination from the handful of popular cities to tick off from their bucket list.
Only to find out they arrived to an old town plagued with overcrowding, glitter among litter and their picture perfect on the home-sharing website is replaced with a dark tiny leaking room they pay fortune to stay in. Later they bump into some native residents who occupied this room for decades and were forced out by the Tourism council to be sleeping in the basement.
They venture out to take their precious snap shot against the ancient walls adored with graffiti: ‘tourists go home, refugees welcome’ or ‘tourists go home, I want to return to my home.’ They try to push through crowds on pavements and roads, Even the cycle lanes are clogged. Maybe the beach destination, they sigh and move on.
So your friends arrive to Croatia to see Dubrovnik or fly to Easter Island or the popular island of Boracay
They take snap shots of litter-strewn beaches full of middle aged sun-seekers dipping their toes in polluted water
All is left is the perfect Instagram snap and another tick on their: ‘list of things to do before I kick the bucket.’
But what about you? Are you going to roam the internet to find less well-known places or you just follow the crowd? People in 99% of countries in the world are crying out for more tourists to show them their original precious culture or nature and help to boost their economies. Are you going to be like your friends who are converging on the same places every year? ‘Overtourism’ places?
So they can say they have been there like everyone else?
What if I take you to a place that is overcrowded too only a stone away from where your friends taking their snapshots. Let me describe you this place as a tour
Would you like sipping sweet tea in a rat infested tent with the stench of sewage hanging in the air?
Let us take you on a small boat to make the perilous journey from Turkey to the Greek Island of Lesbos with 9,000 of Asylum Seekers. Enjoy your leisure time up to 12 hours a day in queues for food. A local asylum seeker, Zabiullah from Afghanistan will be waiting for your arrival with his family of five. You are welcome to share his tent for a small fee. He will be your personal guide The small boat ride around the four adjoining islands with the asylum seekers’ makeshift settlements is optional. Your experience will be unforgettable. You meet survivors of rape or torture, chronically ill, old and broken, little children crying for their mums with sad eyes who lost their childhood forever. You see the Greek Islands overcrowded with desperate people waiting for asylum but no country wants them. It is highly advisable to stop in Moira. Saida, a 19 years old Somali will be waiting for you there. The Moira camp is designed for 2,500 asylum seekers but now holds three times. Enjoy the real life experience camping rough with Saida’s family on a sludgy hillside nearby. It is likely in a tent next to yours someone, maybe a child of ten attempts suicide. You may experience a real fight, it breaks out almost daily and another whole day queueing to access your daily ration may keep you entertain.
Now you are on your own. No passport and no travel agent to help you out.
At least you will not be squeezed in hot overcrowded place any more. The aeroplane is waiting...
For a cold change we can fly you to the northern Italian mountain town of Bardonecchia for an adventure of your lifetime. When temperatures drop to -20 C you may join any group of asylum seekers setting off on the 17 km walk through the mountains to reach France. Dressed in trainers and anoraks they plan to reach the pass 1,762 m up in the Alps. You will pass freshly dug grave with unadorned headstones for those who did not make it. There will be many. The chance of dying from hypothermia is high. You may discover bodies covered in snow on your hike. Some will be half eaten by carnivorous animals hiding in the mountains. It is possibility you will be turned back by police and you will have to try many times before your pass or you freeze to death. You may make friends for lifetime if you survive from every corner of the poor African continent fleeing starvation and genocide. Before you embark on this perilous journey, Paolo who runs humanitarian aid for asylum seekers will meet you to show you around the local bar and entertainment scene. While you take your drink inside he will attend to crowds of desperate refuges begging at the door. ‘Between 300,000 and 500,000 asylum seekers are stranded in Italy, majority without humanitarian protection with increasingly populist Italian government who is trying to find the way to get rid of them’, your guide Paolo informed you: ‘So their only chance is to cross the mountain.’
At the end of the holiday season when your friends come to impress you with their bucket list’s snapshots
You surprise them with your revelation that you have been just few miles away from their touristy spot and yet it felt like thousands miles away, different live
Late that night safe at your suburban home you open a new book Paul, the humanitarian guy handed to you on farewell. It is called: 'Humanity in extremis'.
The first chapter is describing the widows' basement in Baba Amr, a district of Homs, where bereaved women and children huddled as Syrian forces starved and shelled them to death.
You close the book. You can not read more. It will be hard to sleep peacefully tonight. Your mobile beeps, your friends text you: " Let us swap pics from your holiday, did you manage to tick off your bucket list?'
My last article: 'Travelling With Respect' was very warmly accepted around this community.
From the first response to this article I know I know the readers will be more divided.
My questions is: ' Is travelling with respect does truly apply only to those who are lucky enough to live in privileged and peaceful countries and have enough money to tick off their bucked list options?'