|Subject: Re: Tourist versus traveler?|
Perhaps it is only a state of mind, and as others have suggested, determined as much by our attitudes about travel and reasons we choose for going as by the choices we make in how we get there. A very interesting question.
I have always been a traveler, choosing to interact with the people of a place, and I share about myself, as well. An interchange takes place that wouldn't ordinarily happen in a tour group, where the participants are isolated and protected from any potential danger that the area and its inhabitants might pose to one wandering alone.
In 1973, I went to Poland, spending nearly three months, getting to know the people, and understanding better the extreme oppression they were living under at the time. I was taken to places and introduced to people that I never would have met, otherwise -- for example, the mother of the then editor of Pravda (the party newspaper), and to an "underground" wine and coffee cellar, where there was much political talk, whispered. But traveling by bus and train -- I was struck by how fearful people were of even making eye contact with a foreign traveler, particular a Westerner.
I live in a remote part of British Columbia, Canada - a spot frequented by only the most brave travelers during summer, because the roads are so dangerous (by comparison to a highway). Once a tour bus of German tourists did come here, by accident -- lost, missing a turn. The story is told again and again, to much amusement. They spoke almost no English and were truly frightened by the steep roads, but blown away by the view. I'm sure they'll never forget it, nor will we. Now, were they tourists then, or had they slipped unintentionally into being travelers? Could be, but they really didn't stay long enough to do that, not really.
Shareen Knight Seton Portage, B.C.