Monday, June 10, 2013

No Camera

I didn't bring my camera this year on purpose. The only one that I have is a grainy thing on my Nokia slowphone, and I only use it if I'm the only one in the group who can capture whatever it is that is happening.

One of the students said it a couple days ago: "I always wonder if I should even take pictures because I don't want to miss what's happening just to get a picture of it." She was standing in an aviary with birds careening around, over, under foliage and our heads. Many gringos could be seen trying to follow the erratic movements with cameras. Why?

A couple days before the aviary, another student arrived to the bottom of a long hike where a waterfall violently reached the pool below. The spray was huge, the whole pool constantly churning, the roar required raised voices. After walking out to a rock to pose with the group and back up, she exclaimed, "Wow, I haven't even really seen it yet!" while raising her camera to her eye. Her "really seen" meant "taken a picture of" and so she summarized my fear of what having a camera at all times can mean.

I think the fact that most of my traveling experiences haven't been for tourism--but school-related--has contributed to my aversion to cameras, but this is the first time I have actively deprived myself of the object. I do my best to wear Tico-appropriate clothing and to bronze as quickly as I can while down here to reduce light pollution on whichever block I find myself. As often as I can I try to leave my backpack at home. All of these things make me feel more like I'm a Ramonense and not a gringo.

I fear the assumption that goes with all gringos bearing cameras: another tourist. I can't control the assumptions, but if I want to be treated like a local (and I do!), it makes sense to actively reduce the potential tourist red flags--the camera being the mother of them all.

So, sorry, but I'm not posting many pictures this year. I've got them all in my head--don't worry.

Here's one from today, though:

Chilero sauce, by Tío Pelón. That means Bald Uncle. What.

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