Playa del Coco, Costa Rica
"When you go to Costa Rica you'll notice that it's all about money there. They're not willing to just help you out." "I found the people in Nicaragua not very warm. There's a hardness to them." "You just came from Edinburgh?! We actually help people here in Glasgow. Nobody'll lend you a hand over there." These were comments people once made to me about Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Edinburgh, Scotland. But after visiting each place I can comfortably say I found none of these proclamations to be true. I still marvel at how we'll cast broad and wildly inaccurate narratives about people and their communities based on our limited experiences and interactions. Whenever I'd tell people from out of state I was from Oakland, California the follow-up was invariably, "Oh, I hear it's dangerous there." And every time I'd think, Come on out and see for yourself. It's a remarkable place with remarkable people doing remarkable things. The truth is, when we don't take the time to see for ourselves our thinking gets lazy. Our ability to make judgments for ourselves atrophies and we stop bothering to even question what's being said. This is EXTRAORDINARILY dangerous because it leads to division, negative perceptions about people we know little to nothing about, and stifles our ability to thrive as a community.
This is why traveling matters.
We needn't go far to challenge our assumptions and stretch our thinking. As Anthony Bourdain once said, “Good travelers are always curious, fearless, and without prejudice.”
GO. SEE. THE. WORLD. FOR. YOURSELF.