I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying “appearances can be deceiving” and this statement definitely proves true while traveling. What separates a traveler from a tourist is the eagerness to learn from our surroundings and from the locals that make each city and town unique.
One situation that comes to mind happened on a recent trip. I met a man who despite his expertise in wines, had horrible table manners. Although he was able to call himself an accomplished sommelier, that did little to convince me to look past his rude table manners.This goes to show that if you stay too focused on being the best at one single thing, the world might pass you by. In today’s professional world there is a lot of emphasis on the “super specific specialist” who serves as an expert on a single topic.
I feel that we all need to go back to the time when more emphasis was placed upon living full and enriched lives, which is best done by accepting challenges and learning from these experiences. And what a better way to open your eyes to a different world than traveling to a place where you understand very little.Language is a perfect example of a challenging task. This past summer I visited Coba, an ancient Mayan city that is thankfully still well preserved. Instead of speaking Spanish to the locals, which they can all easily understand, I decided to challenge myself and learn what I could of their native language.
As I repeated the Coba words that were slowly beginning to resonate meaning in my mind, I was able to see myself in a different light. This ultimately helped me appreciate my own country and my native language in a brand new way.
In this episode shot in Coba, I found someone willing to teach me some Mayan, It was only a few basic words and phrases but enough to give me a glimpse at this very different world. I recorded this Mayan lesson to show how just two minutes of your time can open up a huge door to a radically different world.
Bio: Sonia Gil hosts a weekly original web travel series called Sonia’s Travels with episodes shot in Mexico, Italy, Berlin and Paris. Each trip turns into a series of shows in which Sonia offers a small idea or tip about a place and the people who live there. New Episodes Premiere Every Thursday at 12 noon (9:00 am Pacific).
People in latin america are usually friendly to outsiders. People take you in and thanks to that, you can get immersed into the culture. This little lesson is an example of it. As long as your friendly an polite, the world is yours!!!!
Great lessons Gregory 🙂
We loved Coba! Learn that the entire region still speaks Mayan made our adventure even more exotic. Our trip included Mayan mythology, traditional Mayan folk music, and local Mayan cuisine. It was one of our favorite trips 🙂
Sounds like it would have been amazing Mary!
People look so friendly in this neighborhood! Im from NY and I cant imagine someone who would take you in the way they did. I can see it is a super warm culture.
I’m amazed at how warm and friendly certain culture are around the world.
Wow. I can’t believe you made the effort to learn another language that is not so common worldwide. Two thumbs up!
Learning this language is not in my agenda just yet… so i guess your right.. It is an initiative from her part to at least try.. 🙂
Your article was refreshing. The fact that you chose to learn their native language instead of speaking spanish says a lot about your genuine hunger to learn. I think this is very important in the modern world we live in because most people in the same situation wouldn’t go the extra mile to experience something entirely new to them. I would like to see more of your travels..
I was impressed by Sonia’s efforts as well. I think she’s done a lot of interesting trips and will continue to do even more.
I agree that learning a new language is an extremely challenging task and one that’s so important for travelers and expats. I’m a big fan of Sonia’s travel videos, especially her travels in Mexico. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work! 🙂
Thanks so much Laura 🙂
Gosh, I hate that too! Was in Krakow on the weekend and this woman was speaking loudly and slowly to a Polish local like he was an idiot. She only succeeded at making herself sound look rude and ignorant … fun post Sonia!
It really comes across as being ignorant when people do that!
You always need to try a few words, even just out of politeness and respect for their culture. Hate people that just start flinging around English then get mad when the locals can’t understand them!
Oh I totally hear you! That’s one of my ultimate pet peeves when people do that 🙂
Great tips, a traveler needs to be immersed to get the full benefit of the surrounding environment. In today’s service sector economy we are a generation of specialists and this also comes with extreme drawbacks.
I couldn’t agree with you more. Wherever I go, I try to at least learn a few sentences in the local language and fumble it around as best I can.
Nice post. Good for you learning a little Mayan and your overall perspective on accepting challenges and learning new things. I try to do that as well, but sometimes I guess I’m just a tourist. 🙂
Hey Cathy, I feel I’m often just a tourist myself 😛 I do make an effort to learn a few words/phrases in each country I visit.
Glad you liked it Cathy!