I have a curiosity streak a mile wide. I rarely, if ever, question WHY I want to know something, I just try and learn it.
On that okcupid test: I did pretty well. 76% knowledge, 0% confusion.
On travel itself: I've been fortunate to be able to do as much as I have. Southeastern Mexico (tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, nice little spot called Playa del Carmen) was fascinating in a number of ways, not the least of which was learning how family-oriented and deeply religious the native population was when compared to the US.
The biggest revelation for me, on that trip, was finally figuring out a key difference between how people behave in the US vs. how they behave in Mexico in terms of personal responsibility.
Bear with me, and I will explain. A few minutes south of Playa del Carmen, there's a gorgeous nature park called Xcaret. It was constructed entirely out of native rock and coral formations, and supports a local ecosystem all its own. The place is so big and detailed that I estimate it would take at least two full days to explore it in depth.
First thing I noticed about this park compared to US 'theme' parks was how spotlessly clean it was. No paper, no cans, no cups, no cigarette butts. There were lots of trash cans, spaced at regular intervals, and none showed any sign of overflowing.
Second thing I noticed: Every single visitor I took the time to observe was behaving POLITELY! No arguments, no fights, no pushing or shoving, no screaming kids. Heck, even the behavior of the kids I saw was positively angelic!
Third: Families actually having fun TOGETHER! It's very typical, in US-based theme parks, for families to split up and do their own things. Here, I saw more than one family, playing with their kids in one of the local lagoons, and having a blast at it.
Fourth, and perhaps the most telling: Personal responsibility. Xcaret, as you might imagine, is full of trails and walkways, some of which are not exactly easy to negotiate due to trees, terrain changes, etc. Handrails are not common except in the steepest areas. It's no effort at all to go off a trail, if you wish, and go exploring through the native jungle. I saw kids doing so more than once.
A setup like that in the US would be a ripe breeding ground for frivolous lawsuits. Here, though, I got the clear impression that each visitor was expected to take full responsibility for their own actions, and those of their kids (if you were a parent traveling with your kids). NO ONE I observed seemed to have a problem with this.
Parents would tell their kids to be careful, sure, but they never said Thing One to them about "Don't go that way, you'll fall and break your neck," nor did they think twice about seeing their kids emerge from the undergrowth a significant distance down the trail, scratched up but in otherwise great shape.
It was some hours after seeing this that I suddenly understood something that had been bugging me for years. I finally realized that one of the biggest problems we have here is that the US government treats us, collectively (I'm talking the entire US population), like a bunch of rowdy sixth-graders who have to be constantly monitored and spoon-fed, or we'll get into "trouble."
People, being great mirrors, will often behave exactly like said sixth-graders. Tell someone "You're an idiot!" enough times, and they will start to believe it and act accordingly.
Mexico, at least the part I was in, appears to expect that people will 'act their age,' as it were. Kids are welcome to be kids (yes, they do get banged up and scratched; that's part of BEING a kid!), but both adults and kids are expected to be responsible for themselves while at the park.
Wow... what a concept.
Maybe, if we had more people taking responsibility for their own lives, we wouldn't have so many frivolous lawsuits (two words: McDonald's Coffee). Heck, I suspect there'd be a lot fewer problems, period.
Keep the peace(es).
Bruce Lane, ARS KC7GR,
Salvadore Dali's computer has surreal ports...