Man, you should have been in this country ten years ago. Things were different then. None of these Western-themed restaurants. No tourists. These big resort hotels weren’t here. There was no McDonald’s. Just peasants, farm land, mud huts, as far as the eye could see. God, it was beautiful. These people never asked for money. They’d welcome you into their homes, serve you five-course meals cobbled together from all the food the village had managed to collect in a year. They’d offer you their daughters. They’d bathe your feet with their tears. They thought backpackers were gods. It’s not like that anymore – now they just want your money.
This country has lost its soul. It used to be dirty, man. It used to be real. We’re talking raw sewage in the streets. People used to just lie down in it and die. Those were the days. Used to be if you backpacked here, people thought you were hard core. I remember when I’d projectile vomit after every, single meal – and that’s if I could actually find any food. Used to come home covered in parasites and reeking of feces. That was traveling. Nowadays, you can eat the food and drink the water – they call that ‘progress.’ Please. I guess all good things end eventually.
These people used to be vibrant. Working the fields despite advanced pregnancies and open wounds, fleeing the gangs of armed teenagers who’d ride around in trucks at curfew hour, begging you to speak to your government on their behalf. Now look at them all: sitting in their air-conditioned restaurants and giggling at their televisions. Nothing unique about them anymore.
These people used to believe that rocks could tell the future and drinking a quart of ox blood would make you immortal. Now, they know that’s not true. Because we taught them our “knowledge.” So much for culture. Speaking of, the women in this country used to wear metal bands that constricted their waists to fifteen inches, and if they accidentally made noise in public, they cut out their own tongues for shame. They were beautiful and sweet; they asked for nothing. Now they talk and eat, and want money, just like Western women. Spoiled.
If you’d been here ten years ago, all these buildings would have been bombed-out shells. You’d have to crouch down under a cement piling for the night, and sleep with one eye open and a knife under your bedroll. Those were heady times. Now, you can pay for a room, just like every other damn place on Earth. Nobody tries to kill you. Nobody jumps you at the train station. I remember the days when you had to pay a mammoth bribe to get across the border, and another one every time you didn’t want to be thrown in jail or murdered. Now, people just want money in exchange for goods or services. Nine-to-five, punch the clock. I ask you: is that really a better way to live?
This country used to be awesome, but now, it’s just like everywhere else. Case in point: earlier today, I bought some perfectly fresh fruit from a market vendor, and she charged me a reasonable price and thanked me for my business. And I realized, this country’s dead, man – it’s over.