Dark Tourism


  • I dream of sitting on a beach and wistfully writing fine stories, ideally, that is the plan I had in my mind. Though I have always believed that stories find me, when you travel you sometimes lose control of the direction you planned to go in.

It appears that I have been faced with a political challenge, a subject I rarely write about. I sidestep talking politics or creating posts, especially on Brexit. It is better I leave that subject to the experts, I am just a mere traveller looking for stories to lighten my load and not tax my brain. I want to write about an Irish girl who marries a man from Calcutta. A little romantic novel maybe. Easy Peasy! Following a trip to the political prison in Lisbon in August I was left with strong images in my head. I felt angry and un-informed which coerced me into writing a small article. I then thought little more about it until I was drawn to booking a trip to Auschwitz whilst visiting Krakow. This experience deserved a longer article posing the question of what is humanity capable of, stirring up some agonising emotions that wrestled with my words and expressive writing.

Recently I came back for a short visit to Romania and had the opportunity to visit Bucharest. I came to teach some English to Romanian business people and admire the most amazing architecture. But now it does not surprise me to find myself standing in Revolution Square, looking up towards the stone balcony where a cruel dictator gave his last speech, days before his people executed him. Yeh, this trip is getting thought-provoking and a tad morbid. I feel like I have bought a ticket from a travel agency dealing in Dark Tourism. Enough of this dark stuff, I feel the need to lighten my thoughts. I am planning a trip to the Philippines, sandy beaches and drinks on the beach. I had met a man at a bus stop who ran a farm there. I was ready to jump into the unknown and become a volunteer for a week playing with cows. So looking to book the flights, I stumble across a cheap deal to Cambodia instead. I have heard so many good things about the local people, I start dreaming of noodles and Asian hospitality. Why not? I can always go back to the Philippines. Getting excited as it is one place I never have been to, I log on to a travel guide which ……

wait for it, leads me to a YouTube video about Pol Pot and the Killing Fields. What the hell is going on here? Give me a break. I want sunsets and shells. I know I am searching for a story but really? Mr Universe, if this is your plan I will need some antidepressants and you know I never touch those things. So, take me back to my travel plans that I seem to have let my subconscious organise on my behalf, and in sneaks politics again as I open up Facebook. There is a British election happening soon. Really it is a referendum in disguise, well that is my impression My daughter turned eighteen last week and is now allowed to vote, just in time for her to join in the pandemonium of a country that is so tangled in a web of weirdness it has lost the plot.

As with all my children, when they come of age I give the lecture about democracy and how they are so lucky to have a say in their futures. People have died for this kind of freedom I have told them and that is why you must do it. (I must just add here that I have been denied my vote because I no longer live in said country (United Kingdom) I live in Spain and need sun. As I get older it is the simple things that matter and I now prefer to have the sun over the vote. My daughter is studying in the UK though, she was born in France but is allowed a vote. It is a mixed-up world I know. ‘What should I vote?’ she says, and for the first time in my life, I struggle to advise her about her future? From my little rented room in Bucharest, where on the shadowy stairwells, mothers and fathers have climbed,up and down, weary of working for the state which was not interested in their opinions and if they did voice one, the fear of disappearing in the night hung as a burden, heavy on their minds. What did they say to their children about the future that awaits them? So, my next action was to log on and look for the party manifestos. Her only worry seems to be about Brexit. It is the essence of political thoughts where every issue seems to be hanging on to the outcome of ‘are we in or out.’ Her worries are about leaving the EU. It is what they probably discuss at college over their lattes and falafel wraps. It is a student issue, they see it as threat to their future freedoms. I advise her to read the manifestos. Quickly looking at the links online I will voice a quick opinion based on my lack of interest in the detail. I apologise. Liberals. Wishy-washy, says what they want to achieve but not how. Simple words, clear and easy to understand. The Greens. Save the planet because without it nothing else matters. The Conservatives. Loads of grey text resembling the terms and conditions of an insurance company that nobody would read, especially an 18-year-old, well most people actually. The Labour Party. Nice Page but brownish, not my favourite colour, showing big message Coming Soon!! They need to hurry up.

Hmm, not a lot to go on for an eighteen-year old girl. I wonder which way she will go. My advice.      Vote and run, as fast as you can, and as far as you can, find a desert island and play with shells, dance in the sunset and sleep on the sand,  but I guess she is much too sensible for those antics.

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