1. Curacao’s Slave Museum… All We Want is the Beach!
I am at lunch with other travel writers at a new restaurant overlooking Central Park. There’s wine and steak and pasta tossed with a type of mushrooms whose name I can’t pronounce, and later there will be panna cotta, accompanied by a shot of espresso.
We’ve been invited to learn more about a property in Curacao, a luxury resort. Somehow, a dialysis clinic, a treehouse, and Rembrandt (I think) paintings all figure into the story. Then, someone mentions the slave museum.
“Oh, that!” one of the writers says, waving her hand dismissively, as if to sweep away her own little giggle. “No one wants to see that on their Caribbean vacation!”
I make the mistake of responding, saying that there’s actually a large–and growing–market of travelers who are very much interested in sites and stories related to the African diaspora. And because I happen to be interested in them–those travelers and the diaspora–I mention a couple other places to illustrate my point.
“You are so funny!” she says, shaking her head. “Just. Too. Precious. Really.” She suppresses another giggle. “Listen,” she says, getting serious, “all anyone really wants is the beach. Right?”
I don’t say anything.
She goes back to her dessert.
2. “It was hard for the whites, too.”- Plantation Tour, Upstate, South Carolina
We are standing on the porch of a rather modest main house at a plantation, trying to make sense of the docent’s narration. The slave quarters (or, excuse me, the “quarters of the enslaved people”) are gone, no one really knows which crops were grown here, and life was hard for whites, too. Or that’s the story, anyhow.
We tour the outdoor kitchen and hear how the women folk of all colors were probably really friendly with each other. Probably.
“How could life have been hard if you had people cooking your meals, schooling your kids, and doing all your labor?” Francisco asked me later.
I wasn’t sure if he wanted an answer.
3. “Delete the deer ticks.” -State tourism client
“We don’t feel that mentioning deer ticks is necessary; it certainly is not a positive attribute of [the location].”
4. Partial NPR Transcript, Oysters: From the Gulf to the Table
“NORRIS: You know, some restaurants around the country are beginning to put up signs that say: We don’t serve seafood or shellfish from Louisiana. I was in New York yesterday, I saw one of those signs.
Mr. FAHEY: Hmm.
NORRIS: Does that worry you?
Mr. FAHEY: Yes, it worries us very much. Extreme precautions are being taken at this point to ensure that what we do have access to is wholesome, and in fact it is. That’s something we’re going to have to overcome and I think it will take years.
If we are able to survive this, if the beds don’t get destroyed, we’ll still have years of work to do to overcome perception problems that are setting in right now, as we speak.
NORRIS: Mr. Fahey, you sound very weary.
Mr. FAHEY: I’m tired. We have – we’re working twice as hard to do about 25 percent as much. And it grates on you after a while. And just seeing the images of that thing spewing poison into our beautiful Gulf, it just sucks it out of you. It sucks the life out of you.