Misinterpreting cultural clues

Many of us suffer from a tendency to prejudge other peoples’ behavior, using our own cultural lens to deduce their meaning. This past term, one of my Intro to Travel and Tourism students reported on Puerto Rico’s potential as a tourism destination. After viewing a scene similar to the one appearing to the right, she determined that Puerto Rico is filled with “street people.” The inference was that locals hIMG_1536ere are lazy. From the perspective of an “advanced” economy, the sight of people wandering around searching for money is easy to dismiss as panhandling. However, one needs to put the actions of other people in their proper context. Puerto Rico is a beautiful island with a small wealthy class, a slowly growing middle income group, and a very large proportion of others who lack Read More 2 Comments

Local Culture

la-cambija-300x225One of the things we appreciate most about living for three months in Puerto Rico is the opportunity to immerse ourselves in local culture. Friends who have visited Jamaica and the Dominican Republic report the wonderful food and services provided behind the fences of their all-inclusives. Guests at these resorts are discouraged from mixing with locals, with the threat of harm to body or possessions implied. The west coast of Puerto Rico offers numerous opportunities to mix with locals, an overwhelmingly kind and generous people.  One of our favorite things to do is to find small eating place, where the vast majority of patrons are Rinconians. Read More 8 Comments

Writing 101

People tell me all the time that there is no way they could ever write a book. If you had asked me twenty-five years ago, I would have said the same thing.  The turning point for me came in the form of a problem to be solved. I was teaching my Tourism Planning course, which necessitated loading students in a van (or two) and driving with them for hours, usually to some sea- or lake-side destination. Several trips later, my students would have a grasp of what made tourism tick in one case study berg. One day, my department chair approached and told me that the field trips were too expensive; I needed to find another way of teaching the course. This was a major dilemma: how was I going to provide students with equal exposure to the inner workings of a community without visiting multiple times? The solution hit me square between the eyes: I’d write a novel–better yet–a murder mystery. Students would learn all about a fictional community, including problems, prospects, and people, while solving an entertaining whodunnit. I’ve never ascribed to the tenet, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”  However, I do believe that, faced with the proper motivation, we are all problem solvers at heart. So, whether you have a book list longer than Tom Clancy’s, or are writing your first book, tell us what motivated you to begin this fabulous journey. 1 Comment

An Earth Shaking Experience

For my first blog, I feel it’s best to do something earth shattering, or, in this case, earthshaking. Last night, at a bit past midnight, our condo building began to shake violently. Shelf units rocked, pictures threatened to fall, glasses clinked, and I nearly stained my new boxer-briefs. The best thing about a coastal zone location is the proximity to the ocean. Following a 6.4 earthquake, this no longer is a comfortable place to be. While my spouse returned to sleep, I sat up and listened . . .  for changes in the rhythm of the ocean . . . for the sound of people running . . . or cars heading–lemming-like–out of our parking lot. Absent these indications that something terrible was imminent, I joined the wife I was determined to protect in slumber.

I appear to have a knack for experiencing earthquakes, otherwise known as earth-suck. Also, I’ve done tornadoes (sky-suck), hurricanes, blizzards, floods . . . fortunately no locusts as yet. Does this make me unusual? I’d like to know. What are your experiences with natural disasters? Hit me with your best shot (perhaps I should be careful what I am asking). 6 Comments

A Plan To Move Forward With The Motels And Fun Of The Past

Mark OkrantOne might think that the mom-and-pop motels of the 50’s and 60’s have all been replaced by cookie-cutter nationwide chains. But some vintage lodgings in New Hampshire have found a way to prosper. And now there’s an effort to push a plan to help them do even better. We can’t blame Norman Bates for the decline of the mom-and-pop motels. Screechy music from the shower scene in “Psycho.” The homicidal loony who stabs Janet Leigh to death while she showers in the 1960 movie “Psycho” probably kept a lot of people out of showers – while putting in a good word for mothers. Read More