When I'm in Boston, it occurs to me every so often, especially in the summer, how many tourists there are in the city. And though it's definitely more pronounced in the summer, it seems there probably are tourists all year round.
On the flip side, being in a foreign country and city, and being a tourist myself, it seems that there are tourists everywhere and it's hard to find the locals in the midst! I know it's all about perspective and relativity: like when you're single and want to be coupled up, everyone seems to be coupled up around you; or if you're going through a mid life crisis, it seems others around you are, too. (not that i'm going through a “crisis” right now– far from it– I'm feeling like this is a deliberate re-assessing of my role in the world and I'm taking intentional steps to figure things out. “Crisis” to me connotes chaos, spinning out of control, freaking out a bit. That's definitely not how I'm feeling!)
So I'm here in another Esquires Coffee shop. Was kind of tempted to step into a Starbucks, but I wanted to resist American chains while I'm abroad. My coffee isn't as good as yesterday's– it seems the quality isn't so consistent from shop to shop. Here's my view from my little table:
Auckland is a pretty city– hilly, views of the sea and the mountains from various points. And, as I said yesterday, incredibly diverse– well, mainly diverse with different types of Asians and Pacific Islanders, not really many black folks.
I resist the idea of being a tourist, though I'm sure I stick out like a sore thumb– big backpack, travel-walking shoes, outdoor jacket. And I'm very aware of my American accent when I speak to Kiwis (as they call New Zealand people). I like trying to find out what it feels like to really live in a city rather than just be a tourist. Sitting in a coffee shop, going to the grocery store, sitting in a park…
And I am hoping to be able to just start talking to people– travelers and locals alike. But being a shy person who hates to schmooze and make small talk, I'm not sure how successful that will be. I want to skip through all the fluffy talk and really learn about another person and find out what makes them tick. I find I learn a lot from other people's stories. I reflect on what makes them different or similar to me and then make all kinds of connections and spin webs to make their story relevant to me, even if they are really different.
I'm hoping WWOOFing will allow me to meet some people and talk to them about their choices– why they live where they live, do what they do, are the way they are.
So although I'm technically a tourist for these next few months, I'm also a truth-seeker, an adventurer, a documentarian. This trip feels so different from other trips I've taken– I really feel like I'm going to come out different on the other end. And maybe that's why it feels so… monumental, big, life changing. Who will I be a few months from now? What will I know? What will I think? What stories will have been added to my collection?