I have always had culture envy. Does that make me racist?

I remember when I was little (maybe 5 or 6) I would pretend to speak in a foreign language with my sister when we were out and about with Mum. We thought it was funny that people around us wouldn’t be able to understand us – but mostly, we thought it would make us interesting if they assumed we were foreign (note, I am now pretty sure no one was taking ANY notice of a couple of kids performing in the supermarket like this….)

I have always found my heritage to be a bit of a bore. At school when we did those assignments on “My Family Tree” I was acutely aware that I didn’t have an exotic bloodline from a European country (whose name I struggled to pronounce), like some of my classmates did. Nope, I was typical. A typical Aussie, with a good half-half mixing of Scottish and Irish at various points along the way.  First generation ancestors so far back that they were clearly some of the dodgy ones that were forced onto boats headed for Australia in those earlier days.

My culture-envy was further spurred on by my overseas adventures when I was 21. I really felt like Australia was so cut off from the rest of the world and I couldn’t wait until my parents agreed that I was old enough to venture out to see what was beyond the Pacific Ocean. I particularly loved being in Scotland when after learning of my surname ‘McGregor’ through seeing my passport or checking into a hostel, I would be greeted warmly with an: “Oh Lassie – You’re home!”

Does being so strongly envious of other people’s culture make me racist?!

I’m currently traveling in the USA and Mexico. In the beachside Mexican town of Tulum where we have currently set up margarita-drinking positions, the locals exude a wonderful laid-back approach to life. Surrounded by turquoise waters and the beautiful cliff-side ancient ruins revealing their rich heritage, their personalities are as relaxed as the tide – slow, calm, beautiful. And with incredible handicrafts, food and traditions strongly present in their everyday life, it’s fair to say I am jealous.

sorella & me travels very well – here she is enjoying the beaches of Mexico

Jealous too when I arrived in New York last week – an exceptional multicultural city. I’m really looking forward to getting back there for another few days this week, hopefully with enough time to explore its cultural pockets including Harlem, Little Italy, Chinatown, Queens – Everyone has their own little piece of history and culture, bringing them together in one incredible city.

‘Doesn’t New York just turn you inside out?’ – Amor Towles

But for now, it’s back to the beach slathered in a pore-clogging chalky layer of zinc as my Irish/Scottish skin attempts to cope in the 35 degree sun. It’s tough, but someone’s gotta do it.

Are you a traveller? Are you a little obsessed about cultural traditions, heritage, or language like me?

~ anna

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