After a few minutes someone else at the table relates some fascinating bits she learned from the tour guides while on an eco tour of southern
Unfortunately, few people act on this noble impulse, even though they know that when such a person appears, the
The travel braggart begins slowly. Just a few sly hints about his vast cultural capital. Then as the conversation goes along, he gets a little more voluble. He is biding his time, sucking you in. There will be a ray of hope when someone else in the group starts talking about
And then it begins. He’s describing his journey up the Ho Chi Minh Trail or the rail trip from
“I never knew that feeding geese could be such a spiritual experience,” he will be saying while passing around photos of himself standing with a group of locals amidst the rice paddies near
I suspect that what keeps us from finishing off the travel braggart is that none of us is pure. All of us in the educated class are travel snobs to some degree. It’s just that while we are snobs toward the hordes of fat tourists who pile out of vast buses and into Notre Dame, he is snobbish toward us. He’s just a bit higher on the ladder of sophisticated travel.
The code of utilitarian pleasure means we have to evaluate our vacation time by what we accomplished what did we learn, what spiritual or emotional breakthroughs were achieved, what new sensations were experienced? And the only way we can award ourselves points is by seeking out the unfamiliar sights, cultivating above-average pleasures. Therefore, Bobos go to incredible lengths to distinguish themselves from passive, nonin dustrious tourists who pile in and out of tour buses at the old warhorse sights. Since the tourists carry cameras, Bobo travelers are embarrassed to. Since tourists sit around the most famous squares, Bobo travelers spend enormous amounts of time at obscure ones watching non- tourist-oriented pastimes, which usually involve a bunch of old men rolling metal balls.
Since tourists try to move quickly from sight to sight, the hard-working traveler selects the slowest possible means of transportation. Bobo travelers tour the
Lewis and Clark didn’t return from their trip and say, “Well, we didn’t find the
But not just any other lives. If you observe Bobo travel patterns and travel literature, you will detect a distinct set of preferences. The Bobo, as always, is looking for stillness, for a place where people set down roots and repeat the simple rituals. In other words, Bobo travelers are generally looking to get away from their affluent, ascending selves into a spiritually superior world, a world that hasn’t been influenced much by the global meritocracy. Bobos tend to relish People Who Really Know How to Live-people who make folk crafts, tell folk tales, do folk dances, listen to folk music—the whole indigenous people/noble savage/tranquil craftsman repertoire.
Therefore, Bobos are suckers for darkly garbed peasants, aged farmers, hardy fishermen, remote craftsmen, weather-beaten pensioners heavyset regional cooks— anybody who is likely to have never possessed or heard of frequent flier miles. So the Bobos flock to or read about the various folk locales where such “simple” people live in abundant hills of
The small things—an olive grove or a small chapel take on greater meaning to a Bobo on vacation. Ideally, Bobo travelers want to spend a part of each day just savoring. They’ll idle away at a trattoria so far removed from the crush of events that the natives don’t even feel compelled to have an opinion about Bill Gates. They will swoon over some creamy polenta or a tangy turtle soup and even educate their palate with some dish that prominently features bone marrow. They will top off their coffee cup with cream squeezed straight from the cow and enjoy the sturdy obesity of the peasant woman in the kitchen, the picturesque paint peeling off the walls, the smiles of the other diners who seem to be welcoming them into their culture.
The pace of life is so delicious in such places. But the lease on the vacation rental only goes for two weeks, so Bobo travelers had better do their spiritual development quickly. Most Bobos come up with a few serendipity techniques that will allow them access to a few moments of authentic peasant living. Hovering on the edges of local weddings often works. Exaggerating their genealogical connection to the place while conversing with the locals is another winning tactic: “Actually my grandmother’s second husband came from