09.22.08

We’ll let you know in November

Posted in Society, Travel at 17:23 by RjZ

Traveling frequently gives one the opportunity to meet people not only from the destination country, but also fellow travelers from around the world. How you travel, however, is an effective filter on the kind of fellow traveler you’re likely to meet. Sitting in  the hotel bar of fine hotel in Chicago guarantees I’ll run into other folks, usually men, going to the same trade show or conference that I am attending. But stay in a $15 a night hostal in Peru and the clientele is completely different.

One thing most travelers to cheap hotels in remote destinations have in common is an interest in the world around them. I think I share that with them, but during a few community dinners at mountain lodges, I started to wonder if all of our interest isn’t a bit misguided. 

I wondered, for example, why does anyone care about Obama and McCain? Sure, there were loads of arguments about how the president of the United States is one of the most important people on the planet. Almost universally, these people were intensely concerned that U.S. Americans might pick another George Bush, bent on destroying the world order. Mr. Bush, it turns out, really is a “uniter” and not a “divider.” Just about everyone I met was united in their dislike of him.

At first, this makes perfect sense, but after thinking about it a bit I realized I don’t know who is running for the leader of Italy right now, or even when their elections are. Of course, you could blame that on my typical American ignorance about anything outside of U. S. borders, but none of my fellow travelers were following the elections in Peru, even if they knew all about our obscure electoral college system. 

Of course, they said, United States’ policies have a much greater effect on the rest of the world than Peru’s. Really? How, exactly, has this horrible, costly war in Iraq effected the lives of the average citizen in Germany? Gas prices, they shouted! Even before the war, Iraq has developed less than 10% of their reserves, or about 2.5 million barrels per day. That is a lot of oil, but even Alaska produces 750 thousand barrels per day on their own. No, the real culprit is increased demand, above all, in China.

One of my dinner colleagues suddenly said that she almost missed her transfer to Peru because she was forced to go through U.S. customs even though she wasn’t even going to the United States. Alright, I’ll concede this one, although she should try flying through, I don’t know, Egypt. The point is, that as horrible as the war is for so many people and as expensive as it will be when the next generation starts paying for it, all of the ill-conceived policies of the present administration in this country and in every country have only incremental effect on our day-to-day lives.

And even if you don’t buy that, don’t you still have to wonder why an ex-pat Brit living in a remote part of Peru would even waste his time following the U.S. election race? Sure, it’s entertaining, but let’s face it, we’ll let you know who we’ve elected in November; there’s not much he can do about it until then.

1 Comment »

  1. Gina said,

    September 26, 2008 at 0:37

    Actually, we over here in Germany, seem to be more interested in US elections than in our own ones. And, as I understand from your blog, everybody all over the world seems to be scared about: not another Bush.
    We don’t have the chance to change the US president but you do. Hope you make the right decision. There’s a saying: everybody gets what he deserves (law of karma). The world deserves better than now!

    Gina from Germany your flickr friend

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