Photo by Aaron Cranford
By AARON CRANFORD
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — Humbleness: the realization that you and/or your way of living is not as important or relevant as you once thought or believed.
If there’s one thing a traveler will learn on their adventures abroad, it’s to be humble.
Though, as a disclaimer, many travelers will not develop a sense of humbleness if they do not travel to certain countries, cities, districts, etc. You, as an explorer of the world, can choose to stay in a luxurious hotel in a “nice” part of a city, and you can have fun doing that, but it may be difficult to develop a sense of humbleness.
While the Dominican Republic and a city, such as Rio de Janeiro, each have aspects that make them fun, exciting and enthralling, both have made me personally develop a sense of humbleness, as defined by my own sense of the word above.
In the D.R., especially in the rural town of El Candelon, people don’t own things that I, as a White, American, would consider normal to be able to function every day, and for the most part, everyone appears content with what they have, even if it is not much.
I am not a voice for the people living in El Candelon because I’m sure a few people living there would like to move away or would like to have certain things on a consistent basis that they don’t have or can’t attain. However, staying a few nights and days there and interacting with the local people taught me that happiness can be achieved, no matter the situation you’re in.
Whether you have a consistent internet stream living in your college dormitory or must trek 15 minutes to the center of town to access a spotty Wi-Fi connection because its possibly the only free connection within a few kilometers of your house, happiness is there.
Happiness is in playing dominoes with your El Candelon neighbors; happiness is in watching Netflix all day; happiness is in listening to a radio broadcast of the Brazil vs. Colombia 2015 Copa America soccer match on Rua Belfort Roxo with a few of your friends who are also homeless, while an establishment filled with happy people watch the match on a television a few steps away.
A humble person can see that happiness is in each of those activities. Sure, maybe the homeless people would rather watch the game than listen to it and maybe citizens of El Candelon want to move to the United States because life there is better, but when you learn how to be humble, you realize that there is no perfect way to live.
Each life and each experience is unique, and happiness in one activity or thing may not bring happiness to another. But happiness is always there, some people just can’t see it.
So, to all my travelers out there, travel humble, travel happy.
Where have you traveled? What experience abroad made you feel the most humble?
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