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On Vacation

I’m currently writing this post from a hotel in Costa Rica so I’ll keep this short.

Depending on your definition of vacation, I’d have to say I no longer like taking them any more. This trip that I´m currently on is the first trip I’ve taken in four years (since my honeymoon, really) with my wife. She was so excited and looking forward to celebrating the end of a long residency and fellowship to her budding pathology career and I gave her full rein to plan out whatever she wanted. So here we are.

DJ Chuang has told me before that he doesn’t “vacation well”, and while I attributed that statement mostly to his tecnogeek nature, I think I finally get what he was saying. About day 2 in Costa Rica over dinner with my wife, I said those exact words: “I don´t think I vacation well.” To my surprise, she said, “I don´t think I´m enjoying this either.”

Some observations:

  • Vacations like the one we’re taking now are inherently luxurious and we became acutely aware of how our status as visitors was exclusive.
  • There is a strange façade to the places that tourists go. With our rental car, we saw how locals really live and the only way they would step into the hotel we’re staying at is if they worked there. That fact has made us increasingly uncomfortable as the trip wears on.
  • Maybe our accepted notion of vacation is dysfunctional because our notion of work is dysfunctional.
  • It struck me as very strange that we would be more engaged with the location than the people of that location.
  • Summer mission trip people can look very odd to the locals and to fellow travelers.
  • To be on vacation can be very lonely and self-centered.

Don’t misunderstand, we’re enjoying the hanging bridges, rain forest and beaches — this is a beautiful country (and we really love the people at this hotel!). But especially in light of what I´ve been reading on this site and just seeing how I´m so stinking rich (relatively speaking, anyway), my wife and I have found ourselves increasingly uncomfortable as the days pass. We´ve actually looked at one another and stated that we don´t ever want to take another vacation like this again.

Instead, we´re considering VolunTourism and traveling with people whom we know or would like to get to know better. We’ve also discussed sponsoring children (a la World Vision or something similar) from a single country so that we can visit them someday.

We both discussed how when we had traveled to our mother countries as teenagers, we got a sense of how fortunate we are. But now, as believers, we feel compelled to share life together everywhere we go, even on vacation.

About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

4 responses to “On Vacation

  1. Joseon

    I echo your sentiments on some of the vacations I went on, also. I think part of the reason is how when I grew up most of the vacations I went on were church retreats, outings to show family members from overseas around the area, or visiting family members overseas. The vacations had more of a purpose beyond personal pleasure and relaxation, which is good, but can feel empty after taking one too many trips centered around the beach and pina coladas.

  2. Brian ⋅

    Hey David, i’m with you… we went to Jamaica before Adia was born and we were miserable. We really would rather travel with friends especially since now with Adia any hotel stay would mean that we sit in the room when Adia goes to bed…

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