I was in Jamaica several years ago and experienced bartering there but here it was so much bigger. One, there are much more markets and two, they were even more eager to sell you things. I did buy several things from those markets, but I did a lot of my shopping at the Fair Trade show they had going on here. I felt much better about the things I was buying, because I knew the people who made them were going to be paid fairly. Fair Trade is a well known concept at Calvin, but I wonder how well known it is elsewhere. Do we care whether the people along the line get the money they should, or do we only care about the end product.?
I definitely felt like a tourist when buying my gifts, but I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing. I feel like I can be both a pilgrim and a tourist on this journey. If we didn’t see the Ankgor Wat Temples yesterday, I would have missed an amazing experience that ended with singing praise songs. If I had missed digging the trench at the school, I would have missed being able to give to the community in a small way. I think both are important to this trip, as long as we do not focus only on the tourist and forget to be a pilgrim. It is so wonderful to see a Cambodian’s eyes light up when we try to speak Khmer – because all of a sudden, we are no longer just a tourist, but someone who cares enough about their culture to try and learn about it.
Yes, I feel like a tourist while shopping, but that is not all I am here on this journey for 3 1/2 weeks, it is only a part, but important nonetheless.