Monday, April 1, 2013

Please, No Pictures!

Hey, there I am somewhere else!
My recent trip to Haiti was a first in several ways: First visit to somewhere with no McDonald's or Starbucks, which was quite refreshing although honestly I could have used a skim latte on several weary afternoons. Another first was being part of a tour, which involved traveling on a bus with a group of like-minded individuals. Usually I travel with just my husband and we wander around discovering things, often not even knowing where the heck we we are. While that's fun, this particular tour provided several benefits, like safety, instant friends, and a whole lot of knowledge about local history and politics I never would have gotten otherwise, since our outstanding Haitian guide was not only quite chatty but smart. It also afforded me a microscopic view of the behavior of the typical U.S. citizen abroad, a species known to scientists as groupus photographus Americanus.

A burning need to capture a beautiful moment on film, usually with a bunch of bedraggled women in front of it, was in evidence last week. Had I participated fully, there would now be roughly 1,000 photographs in which I appear circulating the globe. Instead, after about the third one I begged off, claiming it was against my religion, or that I was wanted by the FBI, or that I was simply too tired to get off the bus and stand and wave at the camera. (One of the rare ones that snagged me is shown above.)

The silliest thing about travel pictures is that often the best moments are never captured on film, yet they remain seared into our memory anyway. Once back home, though we may organize our photos and show them off proudly to our friends, a fleeting undocumented moment will stick out forever. Over time it might be all we remember, regardless of the scores of pictures taken in front of this particular wall or inside that particular restaurant. If I suffer a brain injury all will be lost, but until then, I'm set.

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