You‚Äôre on holiday in a place you feel like you‚Äôve just discovered and it feels like everyone¬†else is too. It‚Äôs one of the most popular cities in the world for visitors and yet you feel like¬†you‚Äôre the first one to uncover everything you‚Äôre seeing. Isn‚Äôt that why you have that huge¬†camera hanging around your neck, dangling erect on your belly as you parade around this¬†discovered land? No, you‚Äôre on La Rambla and everyone around you is either a tourist or is¬†out and about selling to tourists.
Since the end of Franco‚Äôs brutal, anti-cultural reign over Spain, Barcelona has seen an influx¬†in hoards and hoards of visitors. This boom has translated into a dilemma among locals, on¬†one side, the boom allows Barcelona locals the economic opportunity to exploit this influx¬†of money-spending visitors. On the other, many,¬†many, locals are actively against the¬†flooding in of tourists and the lax Spanish borders. At the centre of this is the threat of the¬†culturally-numb tourist threatening a culturally-rich city, so defined by its Catalonian¬†identity.
This is a lecture in pure instruction on how not to tourist.
Instruction no. 1: Know the city you‚Äôre in, they probably speak a language different to you. Learn how to say ‚ÄúDo you speak English?‚Äù
Instruction no.2: Consider the size of your daypack. Is this going to knock out the person behind you as you ram yourself into their space? Probably. Consider the shape you‚Äôre making with your bulging backwards backpack and your thrusting forward camera lens. You just got invasive.
Instruction no. 3: Your camera should be secondary to what you‚Äôre doing. Try looking around before you record your presence an extraordinary amount of times. Don‚Äôt selfie stick ever.
Instruction no. 4: Gasp, look up in awe, but not in the middle of the pavement. When you decide the time is ripe to unfold your big and beautiful map the size of your wingspan in the narrow streets, try not to station yourself in the middle of the traffic. Also consider using your smartphone, it‚Äôs pretty smart.
Instruction no. 5 (the most cheese): Be human, recognize the importance of the place to visitors and locals. Learn something about it. Make eye contact. Make conversation. Be a human among humans.
Kerri von Geusau just went from being a tourist in Barcelona to being a local in Cape Town where she finds reasons to write and take pictures from time to time.