New Orleans gets plenty of tourism, and it’s no surprise friends and family come to visit. It’s always a revelation to take them to the French Quarter and the surrounding neighborhoods like Marigny and Tremé, depending on their curiosity. I find it interesting the way they perceive what is unfolding before them, often expressed in simple comments, awes of silence, the flashing of photos, the way they interact with people or their nervousness when seeing a new place. They may notice everything at once or notice nothing at all. The most annoying aspect is when you find a visitor glued to their phone and failing to interact with anything outside social media.
While some are open to everything a place has to offer, others may want to frequent the same corners they would encounter back home. And it’s not abnormal to want what is familiar, because we all want our comfort—to be in a safe, secure place that makes us happy and fulfilled, and usually those places are the ones we feel close to. On the spectrum of possibilities we search for the closest avenues to our reality, ones that would easily satisfy us. While this seems to be a practical view in the short-term, and uses time efficiently, it can also prevent us from a genuine experience that could teach us a profound lesson.
It’s not surprising to find that tourists carry their life with them, as if in a suitcase, often comparing their home to the new destination. I wish they could leave their home for a bit and explore with fresh eyes. But that can be difficult for anyone, since we are tied to the place we live, which is inevitably attached to biases. This affects how we perceive a new place dissimilar to the one we encounter everyday. A trip anywhere could be more fruitful if you go with an open mind. I have come to understand that not everyone is willing to fully immerse themselves in an experience.
Some people are initially cautious, but despite their fears do eventually jump at the chance to be active explorers. Their hesitancy quickly fades when they acknowledge that experiences don’t have to fall into two categories good or bad, and that there’s a spectrum of emotions each rich with thought. They give themselves a little more room to explore even in places they had not expected to encounter. Traveling often challenges our way of thinking in one way or other, even if we don’t want to admit it. Traveling changes us and I think that’s the whole point.