Things we forget as tourists…

A Peruvian protest

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to visit one of the wonders of the world, Machu Picchu in Peru. Our three-day Inca Jungle Trek was fully-packed with activities including biking through the Andes Mountains, mountain hiking and the infamous Inca city of Machu Picchu. However, our trip was full of unexpected surprises too due to the recent protests in Peru which brings me on to my next little rant about things that happen whilst travelling!

 

Our first occurrence with the protesters was on our first journey to the mountains. We had no idea what was going on when the minivan stopped in a road rammed with traffic and was held there for nearly two hours! Turns out the protesters were actually Peruvian teachers fighting for higher wages. They’d been protesting for over 20 days all over Peru, and their main destination were the tourist roads to Machu Picchu which disrupted travel for days and lasted for weeks. Fair enough!

  

Would you work for that?

The teachers were on strike, placing rocks, stones and wood in the roads and on the train tracks leading up to Machu Picchu. They were angry about the fact that the government who receives millions of US dollars thanks to the tourism industry, but Peruvians don’t see a single bit. We ventured out of the minivan to see the lines of hundreds of teachers and protesters and ended up speaking to one teacher who explained how they care, clean and teach doing jobs that they shouldn’t be doing and all for the monthly wage of 210 Peruvian Soles. That’s equivalent to £50.

 

By the last day of our trip the protests had got so bad that the teachers had apparently derailed the train tracks which meant that after a day of mountain hiking and walking around Machu Picchu, Becca and I trekked for another three hours along the train tracks in the dark to the next village to then catch a 7-hour minibus back to Cusco.

 

I won’t lie, the whole thing was pretty tiring, but I was disgusted by the cheek of the tourists around us who had every right to be annoyed by the slight inconvenience, but to display it so openly to the locals and people who tried so hard to help? Who do you think you are? Not forgetting the idiot guy who thought it would be funny to shout to the protesters and joke about whilst juggling in amongst the police and crowds.

 

Think about the teaching staff in our own westernised countries and how we think they get paid pennies (which they do in my opinion compared to some not as deserving occupations!), and then think about receiving 50 bloody pounds a month for all that love, care and demanding work. Nah, sit back down in your air-con minibus, on your £3,000 two-week trip and think hard before you speak.

 

Waiting for karma…

It’s funny, and there’s literally always one person who just never fails to shock you with how they even made it this far out in the world without karma knocking them out first, but the ignorance of some people when they’re in someone else’s lands and lives is unreal. Who do we think we are? Aren’t we forgetting something? That this is their country. And their fight is extremely worthwhile and incredibly important. And at the end of the day, who cares if we had to walk through the jungle and see fireflies with a couple of Peruvian people (turned out to be a highlight of the trip!), the thing that matters is that their voices were heard and that they get to exercise their rights with complete freedom.

Thanks for reading my little rant guys!

You can keep up with my adventure on instagram @vanishamay

Happy travels!

Vanisha

Are you an Insta-sham? The negative side to social media.

So, in the last week, thoughts around social media, and especially Instagram, have consumed my brain almost entirely (other than my pooey dissertation!). And after lots of discussion, and changes in my own social media accounts, I feel like I’ve reached some sort of conclusion in my brain and annoyingly, my eyes are even more open about social media and its role in society. This is my ridiculous battle with instagram...

 

I can’t lie, social media is amazing, and finally after all these years of meaningless use, I’m finding my own ways to use individual platforms to raise awareness about issues that are important to me, things that help educate, and also entertain, but in a more thoughtful and strategic way, and in a way that might benefit me, or hopefully someone else. And there’s no rules in this, social media is completely up to the individual who uses whatever platform, to do whatever on it. You decide it all. But do you? With Instagram, I’m having a real issue about all this.

 

Over the weekend, I realised that I had gone Instagram crazy. I was suddenly brainwashed, consumed and obsessing over an app. Who am I following? How many likes does this picture have? I wonder who’s stalking my profile? (which apparently, there’s an app for) Who’s following me? Who’s not following me? Erm, is this girl dating my ex?! How did she get so many likes?! And how did she get that body?! Maybe it’s them fitness pages? Hmm, let me check them out. And, how has this fitness guy got so many followers? Maybe it’s because he’s topless in ALL his posts. Hmm, I’ll let that one slide. Wait. Hold up. Stop. WHY DO I CARE AND WHAT ON EARTH AM I DOING?!

 

Then I realised I had wasted half my night on a stupid app, doing stupid shit that I actually do not care about. And so, to detox my mind, I deleted my whole account. Then made a new one like five days later….

 

It’s so unhealthy, and as a sociologist especially, I’m fully aware of it all. But it’s so dangerous that so many people are not. And even for me, I get so caught up in it still! There’s so many types of pressure and ideas about how we should live our lives and what they should look like through brands and personalities on an app. It’s silly. There’s a whole generation growing up in the world of social media, and being accepted through followers, and self-esteem boosted by likes, by numbers, by strangers. It’s a sad reality.

 

There’s a fine line between posting something for yourself, for your business, for your own personal aim and growth, and posting something for likes and for attention. And it’s so easy to forget that for so many ‘instagram famous’ people, their posts are not fully representative of their real lives but actually “a finished product” (quote by my gal Becca, oi oiii) after staged situations and hair and make up teams and photographers and photoshop and so much other shizz. Shots of travel couples in the Bahamas, and egg on avocados on toast, and yoga girls doing the lotus on a mountain top, are all nice to look at but are tiny little snippets of someone’s life portrayed through filters. Which I guess is why it’s so important not to get too sucked up into it.

 

You can use instagram however you like, but why are you doing it? Who are you doing it for? What’s your point? Is it healthy?

 

In 10 years time, are you gonna be okay if your children find your instagram? If your mum saw it tomorrow, then how would that go? I guess it’s about asking yourself how you want to be portrayed and the kind of people you want to communicate with. It’s about authenticity. Because in a few years time, when a new app comes along, are you gonna be the same person without an app like instagram?

 

If ya want more, take a look at these similar things….

http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/x-pro-ii-valencia-instagram-choose-neither/614571/

Have a good day!

Where’s our humanity? Time to get Syria-ous.

“Human life is human life whether it is in the east or west or north or south. Perhaps it is difficult to imagine the suffering of others if it is not happening in our own backyards. If it’s not our skies lit with flames. If it is not our sleep shaken awake by bombs instead of alarm clocks. Death is death and pain is pain no matter where in the world it is felt.” – Rupi Kaur.

 

This is my first angry rant-y blog. And it’s a pretty deep one so this is your heads up. The war on Syria and the refugee crisis breaks my heart daily, due to the fact that nothing is changing and the situation is becoming more desperate by the day. It’s the greatest humanitarian failure of this century. The recent chemical attacks have killed 89 people, including children, and the death count is rising. This is a war crime, a crime against humanity, on every level, completely wrong.

 

Two weeks ago, my Facebook feed was filled with people from this country who suddenly had a voice and an opinion on the   attack in London that left five dead. So let’s hear you now? Where are the Facebook posts and flags? These people have no safety checks through Facebook unlike the handful of people who were marking themselves safe even days after the event in London, even when they lived nowhere near the event, and even though they were obviously safe. How self-important are you? And how shameful for Facebook to even create such a mockery out of a serious incident. Let’s be realistic here for everyone marking themselves safe and thinking that it’s relevant when the police would have contacted your family so much sooner than Facebook realising there was an incident, creating a safety check button, then you realising there was an incident, going on to Facebook, checking yourself in, then your loved ones seeing it saying “aw thank god they’ve checked in because I had no idea otherwise”. I think it’s full disrespect for the people who were actually affected, and just a joke to make people feel like they could ‘get involved’ in some way.

 

I’m so sick of seeing this war on my feed then looking at the privilege, greed and wealth around this country and others in the West. I’m so sick of people telling me how kind I am or how much of a good heart I have, when you’re completely capable of being the same kind of person too. It really makes me laugh, what’s stopping you from caring too? Or is it that you just don’t?

I’ve woken up today angry and sick of the laziness and just general lack of care. What are our priorities? What do we really care about? I don’t believe that anyone in this country is too busy to volunteer, or too skint to donate money when they party twice a week and buy Starbucks every morning. Where is our humanity?

 

Now, I’m fully aware that single-handedly, I can’t change the world, but I know that in years to come, we’ll look back on these times and feel great shame and regret for all the things we could have done and all the times we could have tried.

I’m not sure what my point exactly here is, but I guess I have a lot of hope. Hope that we can change our ways of thinking and start to show responsibility and activism for people who are helpless, desperate and who have no platform to raise their voices. I hope for everyone to have the right to life like we do, lives full of opportunity, have achievable dreams and full safety, away from fear, danger and harm.

 

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory.

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress, p. 270. Howard Zinn

 

Here’s what you can do today….

  • Watch the white helmets on Netflix. It’s an amazing documentary that shows the reality of the Syrian war and the humanity and absolute love of those helping and saving lives.
  • Sign this petition on Amnesty International to encourage the UN to take further action against the war crimes:

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/demand-justice-victims-syria-idlib-chemical-gas-attack

  • Educate yourselves and donate to any of these organisations:

http://www.iamsyria.org/take-action.html

https://www.whitehelmets.org/en

https://www.unicef.org.uk/donate/syria/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwzpfHBRC1iIaL78Ol-eIBEiQAdZPVKo77wnE0ekCwLCfl1vFlhngtZt8qPdACPezEUPqL7HgaAjBu8P8HAQ&sissr=1

  • Fight racism and the fear of refugees. Educate yourselves, raise awareness and open your minds, arms and hearts.

 

Thanks for reading my rant,

Be kind, be thoughtful and have hope!

And have a wonderful day!

V