Destination tourism

Back in April, I said a few things about Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter's The Rebel Sell. I found and find the book to be fascinating, even though I haven't figured out how to integrate its lessons into my daily life. (Maybe it didn't have actionable lessons? - ed.)

Anyway, the book leaped back into my head today when I was wandering through the online New York Times, where I saw an article about the other Machu Picchu. The gist: Machu Picchu is amazing, but it gets close to 700,000 tourists a year, so you should, like, totally go to Choquequirao, since it only got 6,800 last year: "Twenty-five years ago, Machu Picchu must have looked much like this."

I don't mean to be cranky, but clearly I am. How else to respond my grumbling apoplexy at this:
We began climbing stone steps and ducking through ancient doorways like two toddlers on a jungle gym. For a precious few minutes, that ridge top, those 15,000-foot violet hills, those buildings so revered by an extinct civilization, were ours, and our sovereign desire was horseplay.
I got crankier yet at this, when the author was talking about the incompetence of the only tour guide visible at the ruins:
For all the stories I’ve heard from older travelers about how the great sites of the world felt before they became household names — Angkor Wat, Prague, Machu Picchu — I finally had one of my own: “I was at Choquequirao when even the tour guides didn’t know what they were doing.”
This is the best example I've seen yet of what Heath and Potter were on about: cool-hunters as the shock troops of consumer capitalism.

The author is the spectacularly named Ethan Todras-Whitehill, whose previous article for the NYT travel section was about - God help us - New Age spirituality tours in Egypt. I'm trying not to look that one up. To his credit, he's well aware of whining like mine, and even addresses it here on his blog. I think I might come to like the group blog he's part of, but today, damn it, I'm just gonna stay cranky.

UPDATE, 2 p.m. on June 5:

I've already come quickly to like Crucial Minutiae very much indeed. I'm still cranky, but I was already comfortably embarrassed enough by my crankiness that I'm just pleased to find something else to read regularly, and enjoyably.


Anonymous said…
Hi Richard! Crankiness is welcome over at Crucial Minutiae! Generally, we all adore each other but we're like siblings sometimes who like getting under each others' skin just for the fun of it. The adorable Ethan is especially good at this skill. :)

Glad to have you as a reader! Join the conversation any time.

richard said…
Well, thanks for stopping by, Jennifer. You've got a great community of authors going at Crucial Minutiae, and I'm most pleased to have found you. I'll be a regular reader, I promise, though I can't promise to be a regular commenter!

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