I enjoy traveling immensely. Learning about other cultures, meeting new people and experiencing different terrains gives me boundless joy.
I would be misleading you if I said all my travel experiences were without incidents. However, I refuse to allow those few and in-between disheartening experiences to dampen my joy of traveling. Instead, I learned how to make the most of a disappointing situation.
My trip to Rio de Janerio was one of those disappointing adventures.
There were a few things that bothered me like police with rifles in hand guarding the highways ready to shoot without hesitation. The grocery list of how to remain safe and the open insults and criticisms of the poor.
But, what shocked me the most was the racism and discrimination. In America, racism occurs when one nationality is racist towards a different nationality. In Rio, racism occurs within the same nationality. The “white” Brazilians are racist towards the Afro-Brazilians. In addition, Afro-Brazilians have issues within themselves and dislike and discriminate against anyone who resembles them.
How did this effect my trip?
Neither group was pleasant towards me unless they had to be, like in the hotel or a restaurant.
Also, I detected a sense of jealousy from both, as though they were wondering how, as a Black person, I could afford the luxury of travel.
To be honest, it was the other tourists and foreigners who moved to Rio who were the friendliest and made an uncomfortable situation bearable.
In case you are thinking that was just my experience or perspective, a friend had a similar encounter.
She and another friend, whose complexion is lighter, wanted to patronize one of their popular clubs. They admitted her friend without reservation. However, my friend who has more melanin in her complexion was denied entrance. It wasn’t until she showed her American passport they begrudgingly let her in.
Once inside, people were looking at her as to ask, “How did you get in here?” She couldn’t get any service and was blatantly ignored.
Did every native in Rio act this way? No, but there were enough the behavior to make vacationing a challenge.
How do you prevent these occurrences from spoiling your trip?
First, since I’ve dealt with racism all my life, I used those same coping skills. Developing the correct mindset was essential.
Remember your why and the purpose of your trip. What are your reasons for traveling to that destination? Where Rio is concerned, knowing my why was crucial. It helped me to remain focus and keep things in perspective.
Also, knowing my trip would soon end gave me peace of mind.
Most importantly, I applied the wisdom learned years ago: eat the meat and spit out the bones. In this case, I spit out meat with the bones.
My response to the mishaps in Rio or any other destinations that prove to be less than desirable is: I went, I saw, I conquered– Next!
Did you ever have any negative experiences while traveling? If so, how did you handle it?
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Ora Cook is a coach, blogger, and inspirational speaker devoted to helping women restore their confidence and fulfill their purpose. She encourages women to travel for therapeutic and recreational purposes and offers the knowledge they need to do so. You can read more of Ora’s writings at www.oracook.com.