Trying not to sound preachy or elitist, we have come to find a way that we can verbalize our current and hopefully many future interactions with native/aboriginal people that we meet in any of our off the grid, non touristy travels. This came about during a lengthy layover at the less developed Fijian airport of Suva. We had a long break before our final flight to Auckland and ended up walking into the local town, evidently a non-standard practice. We spent a few hours walking down the main highway with several taxis and regular folks stopping to see if we needed help or if we were lost… As we started walking into what would reasonably be classified as slums we started to second guess our logic.
But you know what? The people who look scary, with the unkempt yards and feral dogs were the first to flash a smile and say good morning. And when greeted with a smile and a “good morning” directed at them they lit up with a beaming smile. We did nothing that day except wave to the kids at a local school and try to buy some food off the local market and shops that were not following the most stringent health laws. We didn’t get mugged or robbed, no one tried to swindle us out of cash but rather seemed pleasantly surprised that the rich white tourists were willing to walk through their town and say hi to them rather than taking a bus to their resort property. (We were in Fiji after all)
It’s funny how regardless of how different the places I’ve been, be it Afghanistan or Fiji, one thing has remained constant; if you realize you are no better than the people you’re around and make an actual effort to embrace and respect the culture things normally turn put for the better. This led us to develop a bit of a mantra for our travels: we want to leave a shop, restaurant or street corner with the local saying “