When visiting remote areas of the planet I oftentimes felt like a celebrity. In places such as Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, rural Tibet or Iran, in remote parts of India, Ethiopia, Western Africa, even in less touristy places of Latin America, Jane and I had hordes of people, usually kids, following us and trying to “explore” us, just as we explored them.
The idea of the traveler being explored and studied while he observes and studies the various cultures through which he moves, is dealt with more extensively in my book Destination Earth. Today, I just felt like giving you a small glimpse of the VIP status to which Jane and I were spontaneously … upgraded while we moved in many parts of the world. Each one of you will be treated in a similar manner if you decide to venture into the “wonders and surprise” of world-travel.
In the video below, I arrived at a remote village in the Sepic River in Papua New Guinea. The kids, who were having a lesson in a very basic “classroom,” stopped what they were doing, and together with their teacher began to study me. Most of the kids had never before seen a white man and their awe, awkwardness and enthusiasm at the unique sight are unmistakable. As I was about to depart, they all gathered together to sing for me (the teacher is the girl with the striped shirt on the left).
The top photo is from a small island off the coast of Malaita in the Solomons. (And yes, the kids’ blonde and golden hair is natural!).
The bottom photo is from our visit to a slump outside Calcutta. The whole village, including the mayor, treated us like VIPs and followed us wherever we went. In particular, Jane, who interacted more with the kids, became an instant movie star with whom everybody wanted to pose for a photo (I played the role of the more serious likely “UN official,” not least because they were all convinced I was one!). Note the naked kid above Jane’s head!