Rad A. Drew Photography: Travel as a Political Act

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Travel as a Political Act

Cliffs at Tropea, Calabria Region of Italy

Did you ever think of travel as political act? As a rule, I don’t espouse political opinion on social media, but I am comfortable about the idea of travel as a political act

No matter what political camp you’re in, traveling consciously in our tumultuous world is a powerful way to expand our understanding, challenge our prejudices, and practice being open to the views of people from outside our wonderful country.

Mark Twain wrote:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

I wholeheartedly agree!

Afghani "Camel Man" at the Al Ain Camel Market,
the Largest in the UAE.
The young Afghani man (above) although we shared no common language, kindly showed me around the market. He insisted we walk more than 100 yards so he could show me the new born camels. After, he permitted me to make his portrait.

On our recent dahlia workshop, my friends Ann and Carol, introduced me to the concept of Travel as a Political Act. I didn’t know it was a “thing,” but I believe that’s what I’ve (we’ve) been doing (however unwittingly!) as we’ve traveled the world making photographs. 

Lone Bristlecone Pine at Sunrise
My friend Dan Sniffin and I shared the experience of the ancient bristlecone pines. Being the only two humans on the mountain with these ancient trees – some more than 5,000 years old – does a lot to put the problems of the world in perspective. These trees have seen it all and they prevail.

Trips from coast to coast throughout the US have exposed us to many views, and travel to England, Scotland, Italy, France, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, have shown me that the rest of the world sees things much differently than many Americans. I don’t always agree with these alternative views, but I think it enriches me to at least listen and try to experience another’s perspective. 

The most precious of these destinations for me over the years, has been Cuba. It’s a place I’ve traveled to more than any other and I’ve become connected to wonderful people there who are friends for life, in some cases, they’ve become family. 

Cuban Farmer Making Charcoal in the Vinales Valley
Traveling to Cuba today, in the current political climate, to see first-hand how Cubans live, the ways in which they suffer, how dependent the government is on other (in some cases unstable) governments, the impact of US policy, and the general uncertainty of the country’s future, is an important endeavor for me. 
My Young friend, painter Roly Castelliny, beautifully portrays
the world in which he lives in Old Havana
As I’ve explored this new (to me) idea of Travel as a Political Act, I was referred to the writer and traveler, Rick Steves. (Thanks, Ann and Carol!) Steve’s article, 10 Tips for Traveling as a Political Act is full of ideas and suggestions for how to make your travel a political act. 

Sheik Zayed Grand Masque, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Most of the tips on Steve's list are things we've been doing on trips for years. I didn't know what we were doing had a name, but in many ways it's exactly what we've been doing. 
Omani Merchant Sorts Radishes at Ancient Market in Oman

See Rick Steve's article and maybe you’ll find something in it for you, or maybe you'll learn that you've already been traveling as a political act!

Thanks for reading, and until next time, keep on creating! 

Tobacco Harvest in Vinales Valley, Cuba
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