14th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest
Parasols and Sea Breezes
This photo was taken while on vacation in Sri Lanka in March 2016. In many ways, I found the Sri Lankan tourism culture to be deeply problematic, with foreign tourists flocking to beaches and water side restaurants with little apparent regard for the society they were briefly operating in. However, it also reiterated my personal prioritization to travel that was conscious of the ecology and the sociology of the country I was visiting. Whether it was making every effort to dress in a manner that mirrored Sri Lankan women in terms of length of shirts and skirts, or finding ways to refill my water bottle that didn't require a disposable plastic bottle, Sri Lanka provided constant cues to check my own behavior and attitude. Successful sustainable travel projects are ones that acknowledge and accept existing cultural and social frameworks while striving to minimize one's impact as a tourist. That frequently means thinking deeply about destinations such as sea turtle farms, whale watching trips that stress local ecosystems, or the attire you don while on vacation. This photo reminds me of the sharp juxtaposition of human behavior and our natural environment, and offers a quiet moment of solidarity, with both nature, and humans sitting peacefully together.
© Cassie Denbow.
All rights reserved.
||April 14, 2016, 12:37 a.m.