Tourists and Adventurers

This post was written as response to The Travel Chica’s post about the flooding of the Atacama

The Travel Chica just discovered that “the driest place on the planet is flooding”.

The two most beautiful places on my itinerary for Chile have experienced environmental disasters just before my arrival. First, there was the fire in Torres del Paine. And now the driest place on the planet is flooding.

I just spent US$100 on a bus ticket to get here, dealt with the discomfort of an overnight bus ride, and left a city I loved and wanted to explore more.  And I am not going to be able to take pictures of this landscape photographer’s dream destination.

People are being evacuated.
The military is handing out mattresses and blankets on the square.

The only thing for me to do is book a bus ticket out of here. …And wait until I can escape to northern Argentina…

So, let’s recap: People’s homes are flooded. Entire villages are being evacuated, and she’s complaining about a $100 bus ticket and the “discomfort of an overnight bus ride”.

She’s traveled to a “photographer’s dream destination” and when she finds out that she will not be able to take the same pictures everyone else has been taking for years, but instead has been presented with the opportunity to photograph something that has never happened within our lifetime “the only thing for [her] to do is book a ticket out…” Just imagine how extraordinary (literally) it would be to go to the same places of all those beautiful pictures she admired, and find beauty in a landscape transformed by an element that is almost never present.

This, is a spectacular example of the differences between a typical tourist and an adventurer. A tourist books itineraries, expects comfort everywhere despite the being in a land rife with poverty, and gets upset when things don’t go according to plan.

An adventurer says “Holy shit! How fortunate am I to be experiencing something that has never happened in my lifetime, to be in a place where the money I bring to the community when paying for food, guides, and shelter can have a real impact in this time of crisis, to be able to photograph things no-one else will have the opportunity to, to tell stories no-one else can tell, and to have the ability to hop the next bus out whenever I want.”

The adventurer thrives in the unexpected moments of life. The tourist gets annoyed.

I will never be a tourist.