Sunday, 19 January 2014

Tourist Fatigue?

This week I finally left Mexico City after finally receiving my new debit card, and hit the road once again. While I had an amazing time in Mexico's capital – largely due to the greatest hosts of all time – if I stayed any longer I may never have left, so I moved on to Oaxaca, home to several great historical site of the Zapotec and Mixtec cultures.

On a day tour to Monte Alban a fellow passenger on my day tour told me he wasn't interested in taking many photos because there wasn't much difference between this and other archaeological sites he'd been to in the rest of Mexico and Central America. It wasn't all that “special” according to him.

The Ancient City of Monte Alban

I found this odd for a few reasons. My first thought was why he had bothered to come check out the ruins if he wasn't at all interested in them. Perhaps just “ticking off” the site from his “things to do in Mexico” list. My second thought was how he could not be impressed by something that was built 2500 years ago with such amazingly accurate work (not to mention large stones) without any of the tools available to builders today. Add to that the fact that up to 30,000 people lived there at any given time for a period of almost 1500 years and I think the importance of a city like this cannot be oversold.

The Ancient City of Mitla

Sure there are going to be some similarities between this city and others from pre Colombian times – its only natural for nearby cultures to share ideas and techniques with others around them. Cities in Europe share a lot of similarities to each other, but I don''t think you'll hear anyone argue that you don't need to see Barcelona because you've already seen Paris.

Perhaps my tour acquaintance had been to more of these sites than me – so far I've only been to Monte Alban (Zapotec), Mitla (Mixtec) and Teotihuacan (Aztec) – and had started suffering from archaeological site fatigue. I remember when travelling through Europe a few years ago having a similar feeling towards Castles and Churches. There's even a term for it among backpackers through the continent, ABC – Another Bloody Castle/Church. While at times it did feel like things started to get a bit too similar, I think you can always find a point of difference in each of these buildings. Except for Bratislava Castle. It has nothing.

The Ancient City of Teotihuacan 

So with six full months still to go on my trip through Latin America, perhaps I will start to be fatigued by all of these archaeological sites. There are a couple of very famous ones I'll be seeing soon, Chichen Itza in Mexico's Yucatan, and Machu Pichu in Peru.

I certainly hope I don't become as jaded or fatigued about these ruins as some people clearly do. I've been wanting to come to Latin America to see these ancient cities since I was a kid watching the Mysterious Cities of Gold cartoon and I would hate to think they start to lose their appeal – though I'm certainly not expecting any golden flying condors.

Has anyone else experienced tourist fatigue of any kind? Castles in Europe? Buddhist temples in Thailand? Burger joints in the US?  

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