Instagram: Storytelling at its Finest

The medieval Moroccan scholar and traveller, Ibn Battuta is credited with once saying, “Traveling, it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”

I’ve been thinking about ol’ Ibn recently since we hit the Peruvian coast back in Paracas. From Paracas, as we’ve navigated the mundane day to day task and decision making process of leapfrogging our way north along the coast. Through bone dry vistas only slightly more colourful than cement dust, to our present three day stopover in the party town of Mancora before a highly anticipated rendezvous with a good friend on the beach in Ecuador for Christmas.

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A Work in Progress

And I’ve especially thought of Mr. Battuta as I’ve scrolled through various family travel related Instagram feeds of late.

So many amazing images. Images of smiling faces surrounded by breathtaking panoramas, snow-capped peaks, sun drenched and palm tree lined beaches and mountain fringed, verdant valleys stretching off into infinity.

Of course, the world is a big beautiful place but, the more I looked at those photos and the more I decided which of our own photos to include on our own Instagram feed, the more a question began to simmer beneath the surface.

A question regarding whether we, the traveling general public, are painting over this whole endeavour with one big fell swoop of a rose

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Our child is ALWAYS this blissfully happy!

tinted brush.

No, in between the day hikes and falls of Argentina and Brazil, the salt flats, lakes and islands of Bolivia, and the hill top outposts of Peru, life in South America is a lot like many other places in the world. Minus the decent plumbing and sanitation requirements, of course.

Such would be my thoughts two nights ago as I heaved up my guts for the fourth or fifth time in the midst what can only be described as a miserable ten hour bus ride between Pacasmayo and Mancora.

Let’s just say if any aspiring vagabond extraordinaire ever wants to depict the other three quarters of this lifestyle and make a name for themselves in a hurry, I had just the place for them to start.

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Claudia and Carlito–New chums for the week.

There in my very own squalid and cramped bus lavatory. Just bring a flash, try to keep any from landing on your feet and viola….Riveting travel photography to paint an image of a different sort.

Or, if vomit and the results of other digestive track ailments aren’t your forte, how about scenes from crowded bus stations with disgruntled and unfriendly sales clerks. The sort of ‘jovial and helpful’ types that seem to derive great pleasure from putting the ‘diss’ in customer disservice.

Or scenes from the seemingly endless roll call of Off Broadway places between travel agency hot spots A and B. Entire landscapes and towns that seem to have come into existence via a military official’s whimsical request for a bombing practice target range. Ones seemingly only half finished at that and ones, quite frankly, many a pet owner in NYC, L.A., Brisbane or Sydney would howl at the prospect of having to house their furry friends in.

Or, as for traveling with children, maybe up close and personal sidewalk scenes of a three and a half year old in the midst of Code Red meltdowns over random, inexplicable slights no middle aged adult should ever be forced to try to decipher will suffice.

Or an image of the ensuing ‘discussion’ of the same tyke who’s suddenly and inexplicably determined to inject her immediate evening plans with her dolls…

All of 15 minutes before a scheduled rendezvous for sunset with friends.

Ah yes, such can be the life. And definitely not one found on any Instagram feed I’ve yet to stumble

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Baking class in session

across.

No, we’re such a happy lot. And we have the pictures to prove it.

Which brings me back Mr. Battuta. What sort of stories did he tell back in the early 14th century? Armed with little more than paper and whatever sufficed for a pen more than 600 years before the invention of the rudimentary Polaroid instant camera in 1948, I’m guessing the guy was prone to a few ‘embellishments’.

I can imagine him catching up with his Moroccan neighbourhood school mates after his return from his travels around the Muslim world nearly 25 years after first leaving home.

Transportation issues? “Nope, easy peasy. Let my camels know who the boss was early on and they were as obedient as a virgin bride on her wedding night.”

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Best friends…FOR NOW!

Food issues? “Got tired of cooking for myself by Tripoli so I raided a village and picked up a private chef of sorts. After I got tired of her, I had her sister take over.”

Any children to speak of? “Who needs the pesky Rugrats!?!? Had five and sold’em all and for a nice

profit.”

What about the natives? “Most welcoming after the one that gave me a bit of backchat in a market in Cairo but I quickly remedied that. It’s amazing what cutting out just one tongue will do for morale.”

And on and on I’m sure he went. All of which I have to say…

Likely story!

The truth was probably more along the lines that Ibn made it half way across Morocco before getting a glimpse under a burka that changed his plans. Three wives and fourteen kids later he went home with an exotic looking array of tattoos and a vivid imagination looking for some bloody peace and quiet.

And just like that, Ibn became a story teller for the ages with his book ‘Travels’ leading some to go

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Every night on the road is this beautiful…TRUST ME.

so far as to call him one of the greatest travellers of all time.

Which, assuming it all happened as reported is a pretty impressive feat for a guy without an Instagram account.

But then, if he’d had one, the loss would’ve been ours. Because then chances are good we’d have only heard about the good bits.

 

 

 

 

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