Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Sublime and Ecotourism: Richard Bangs

Apparently I'm not the only one who's been making connections between ecotourism and the sublime. Richard Bangs, an old man who's called "the father of modern adventure travel" by www.smarttravels.tv/adventure.htm, has produced a TV series called Adventures with Purpose in conjunction with KCTS (the Seattle PBS station I grew up with), and in one segment of this show he traveled to Switzerland in search of the sublime. Though I'm a little bitter that he stole my idea shortly before I came up with it, this trailer is a nice overview of the sublime side of ecotourism. He even brings in Percy Shelley, who I quoted months ago in my exploration of the sublime. I'd be interested to see the whole video.

Experience through Wordle

Wordle: Experience Africa
I've compiled all the text from 26 randomly chosen travel brochures I picked up in gas stations, tourist information centers and park offices from East London to Cape Town and put them into a Wordle to show the most common words found in these brochures. The big winner? 'Experience,' which was used 45 times in these 26 brochures. This was closely followed by 'game,' at 41. Some other top scorers: Africa (27), African (21), safari (22), unique (20), free (19), forest (15), nature (14), enjoy (13), wild (13), wildlife (12), great (12), and conservation (11). The top animals were elephant (17), cheetah (15) and ostrich (14).

This is a very small sampling of brochures, even out of my own collection, but I did find it interesting that the top word was Experience. They're not advertising just to see or do things, but to experience them. There is also clearly an emphasis on game and nature based tourism, which greatly dominate the mainstream South African tourism industry.

I'm sure there must be a way to make this Wordle image bigger without it looking blurry, but it's not working for me. If someone knows the trick, please share. As is, you can click on it to see the full-size image.

Eco-Schools (LOVE)

One of the most exciting things I was able to find in my time in South Africa was the Eco-Schools Programme, an international awards program for environmental management, certification, and sustainable development in schools, clubs and education centers. It is overseen by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in Europe, and implemented in South Africa by WESSA, so in my short time volunteering with them I was able to get a glimpse into this wonderful program. As a whole-hearted, vehement supporter of environmental education in every shape and form, I think Eco-Schools is exactly the kind of program that should be in schools around the world; and frankly, that's the direction they're headed: as of October 2009, the program was being implemented in 47 countries around the world, involving 30,000 schools, 8 million students, 400,000 teachers and 4,000 local authorities (according to Eco-Schools USA). The U.S. is a new-comer to the program, hosted by the National Wildlife Federation since December 2008, with about 380 participating schools. South Africa has been involved in Eco-Schools since 2003, and has nearly 1,150 schools participating.

Here's an overview of how the program works, according to the Evaluation of the Eco-Schools South Africa Programme, prepared by Eureta Rosenberg on behalf of WESSA, WWF-SA and C.A.P.E. (Cape Action for People and the Environment):

In South Africa, schools which register with the Programme must:
· Audit environmental conditions and resource use at their school
· Implement projects to improve their environmental conditions and resource use
· Conduct environmental education lessons; and
· Report annually on their progress to the Eco-Schools coordinators, who convene panels of experts to assess the schools’ work.
Lessons can be conducted in any subject and topics include wise use of resources, habits for healthy living, and caring for each other and the earth. Popular projects in rural and urban areas are food gardens, bringing back indigenous biodiversity, wetland - or soil rehabilitation, recycling and measures to conserve water and energy. Each environmental improvement must be maintained, even as new ones are introduced in subsequent years of registration.

I had the opportunity to help evaluate some of the Eco-Schools portfolios to help determine whether they merited an award for their work throughout the year, and I was really impressed by the efforts some of these schools were making toward environmental sustainability and awareness. One small, rural school I evaluated had done a project focused around a river which ran alongside their school. The water from this river was gathered by some people for drinking or cooking, but women also washed clothes in it and some students were spotted using it as a toilet, while pollution and litter were inhibiting the water's flow and causing stagnancy. Teachers in the school recognized the health risks the current state of the river could cause to the students, wildlife and the whole community, and they decided to use the Eco-Schools program to do something about it. The students took a field trip to the river and worked together with teachers to identify pollutants and their sources, then determine ways to reduce pollution and rehabilitate the river and its habitats. They incorporated lessons in biology, math, health and other subjects to take an interdisciplinary approach to the problem, and then the students took what they learned home to their parents, and as a result to the whole community. This becomes so much more than a school lesson or a quick project by a few community members: it spreads awareness and reform through the entire community and makes real, tangible change a possibility.

That's what really makes me excited about the Eco-Schools program: it teaches environmental education through practice. It shows students, schools and the community that taking steps to help the environment actually helps themselves, by saving money, improving health, and allowing them to become more self-sustaining. It encourages students and teachers to undertake projects themselves, giving them ownership and increasing the likelihood that the projects will continue for years to come. It requires commitment and drive from all those involved, but has really amazing benefits for those who are willing to do the work.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints

In my perusal of Aidan's collections I paid special attention to nature brochures, and found a number from the 1970s or '80s advertising nature reserves. Two carried the tag-line "take only pictures, leave only footprints," which I've found in a number of modern pamphlets and brochures, including one for the Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve ("take only pictures and memories, leave only footprints") and which is even mentioned in my Ecotourism and Sustainable Development textbook by Martha Honey as a "catchy phrase" often used in "mainstream ecotourism" or "ecotourism lite" (page 62). These kinds of phrases invoke a feeling of preservation and of having a low impact, but without actually committing to anything specific. It brings up a common issue that arises in nature tourism, which is distinguishing between the organizations and facilities that sound green and responsible, and those that actually are. This doesn't mean that all organizations using these "catchy phrases" should be immediately mistrusted - the Nahoon Estuary has done a really great job, for instance - but they also shouldn't be immediately labeled as shining examples of sustainability. I'm going to address this issue more fully in a future post.

I kept my eyes open for anything that might be classified as ecotourism in Aidan's collection, but other than some "ecotourism lite" like that mentioned above I didn't see anything. The emphasis on community benefit, involvement and empowerment which is so essential to ecotourism is something that even today can be difficult to find in marketing materials, and environmental effects and efforts beyond general nature conservation (which is essential for the survival of nature tourism) can be difficult to determine.

One booklet that caught my interest went into detail about a nature reserve's battles for conservation, their failures due to poor management, and their final victory through a collaboration of scientists, managers and community members. What it described was the same kind of environmental challenge being faced today by many natural areas in South Africa and around the world: struggles against development and poor land use, political battles for funding and recognition, fights to save endangered species and diminished/diminishing habitats, and efforts to get the community to care and to become involved. It's encouraging to know that East London was already taking such strides for conservation so many years ago, but it's also a bit discouraging to see how many of these same problems are faced today, and how many remain without solutions.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Aidan: A Link to the Past

Image source: http://metromediasa.com. This is a 1925 image of Orient Beach, which is adjacent to Eastern Beach. You can find more pictures like this at their website. I was unable to find any online images from the 1950s like the one I've described below.
Image 2: Eastern Beach in 1907
Image 3: a man selling candy on the esplanade above Eastern Beach. Source: blogs.dispatch.co.za
Image 4: Eastern Beach in 2008. Source:
ilsebatten, flickr.com

I found Aidan one day when I was sitting in Wendy's Book Lounge, reading, writing and talking to Cornelius as I so often do. Cornelius introduced me as one of his girls, as he always does, and Aidan and I started talking about my research. As it turns out, Aidan is quite involved in the nature tourism industry: his family owns a tour operation in the northern part of the country and he's put considerable effort into following what's happening in it, and is even looking into starting some sort of a tour company of his own. We talked while he browsed the shelves around us: about how the Eastern Cape has a lot of under-utilized potential for tourism; how there's a lack of continuity between areas of the province, left over from the Apartheid-era homeland separation; and how the marketing in the Eastern Cape just hasn't been as effective as in other parts of the country. He also brought up the issue of safety, how many people still have misgivings about traveling to South Africa because of its reputation of being dangerous and crime-ridden -- though if you just take the right precautions, he says, it can be as safe as anywhere else. He had a lot to say and clearly could say more, so he told me I could stop by some day and talk to him again.

A week later I was able to go to Aidan's home to talk to him further, along with Diana, who had met Aidan independently, and wanted to see his collection of old postcards of Oxford Street. He invited us right into his home and introduced us to his wife and two children, the older of whom was 10, about my sister's age. Diana and I were offered tea and muffins as Aidan went into the back to find us what might interest us in his collections. He came back with books and boxes full of postcards and business information for Diana and travel brochures for me. These were really fascinating: pamphlets and brochures from the 70s, 50s and earlier, advertising East London and the surrounding area. The brochures for EL itself displayed a city drastically different from the one I've gotten to know so well. One brochure that looked as though it must have been from around 1950 gushed about the thousands of tourists that visited the city each year, drawn by what they termed "the safest beaches in the southern hemisphere," the "charming, bustling downtown," and the overall "family-friendly atmosphere." The pictures showed Orient and Eastern Beaches, beaches I've visited many times, covered with beach towels, umbrellas, and bikini-clad sunbathers, next to waters filled with laughing children and their proud and watchful parents. I wonder what those people would think if they were to see these places today. Eastern Beach is often covered with people, but they're mostly local and all black, except for the occasional white surfer or tourist from Sugarshack Backpacker's. This beach gives off the immediate sense of a party: everyone laughing and yelling, laying on the sand just in front of the surf and waiting for the waves to bowl them over, dressed in whatever they have at hand - jeans and t-shirts, dresses, underwear, once in a while an actual swimsuit. Tell-tale bottles and cans are typically strewn across the sand and boardwalk, signs of the last night's revelry and a preview for the upcoming evening. It's loud and eager and invigorating and alive, but certainly not the tame, tourist- and family-friendly site of 60 years ago. And not at all white like those picture-perfect families on the brochure.

I was also intrigued by the claims these brochures made about East London being a tourist hot-spot and favorite vacation destination for travelers from all over the world. Unless they were greatly exaggerating EL's popularity, something must have happened to take this city off the map. Or maybe nothing happened, and that's the problem - it just didn't keep up with the modernization and marketing happening in other parts of the country, and with nothing new or unique to offer, it eventually lost its draw. Now I'm curious to see the numbers for East London tourism. I've already tried to find them online to no avail, so I'll have to try emailing the tourism information office and see if they have anything to tell me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Journey to WESSA

Images: Above: Map of East London. Source: http://sa-venues.com.
Below: the Boxer taxi rank. Source: http://brabysproperty.co.za

Within a few days of emailing WESSA I received a message back from Catherine Andersson, their project manager for environmental education, saying that she’d be interested in meeting me. We set up a date and I went about finding the way to Beacon Bay, where their office is located. For this I was able to use the expertise of Matt, who was here last year and was one of our teachers for the prep course. He used to stay in Beacon Bay, so he knew its taxi system well, and sent me a really helpful Google Map with stops labeled. I plotted out my route from the nearest stop to the WESSA office, about a 20 minute walk, and went through the whole route on the map until I was sure I could work it. Just in case any of you ever need to find your way from Devereux to WESSA, I’m going to take you through the step-by-step directions. You can also follow along on the Google Map.

1. Leave the house a couple hours before your appointment. Walk from home to Devereux street, wait until you see a taxi or hear one honking and point toward town (to the right). Listen for them to yell “Townie.” If they say “Mdantsane,” it’s going the other way. Don't get on that one.
2. When one pulls over, hop in. You may have to give the mamas a chance to shift over if it’s one of the smaller taxis; just squash in alongside them.
3. Pass up 6 rand to the yeller if you’re in a van or the driver in a car. It’s best to have exact change. If you’re in the back, just tap the person in front of you and they’ll pass your change forward.
4. The taxi takes you along Oxford Street. A couple streets before Gladstone, around City Hall, call out “Absa 2” or “2nd Absa,” and they’ll stop at the corner of Gladstone, next to an Absa bank. Cross Oxford and head down Gladstone until you find a store called Boxer, surrounded by taxis going in all directions. This is the Boxer taxi rank.
5. Right across from the Boxer there’s a parking lot with a few rows of taxis. If you stand there for a moment, someone will ask you where you’re headed, or you can just go up to one of the men who are yelling and pointing authoritatively. Tell him Bonza, Bonza Bay, or Beacon Bay (or a combination of the three until he gets what you mean), and he’ll point you where you need to go. It should be the van nearest the street. Jump in and hope it fills quickly. Avoid the vendors trying to sell you sweets, sunglasses and cell phones.
6. Once the taxi starts moving pass up your 6 rand, then just enjoy the trip. You’ll cross the Buffalo River, which is nice. When you’ve been going for a good while the caller or driver will ask something about Pick n Pay or Spargs, and you’ll want to say Spargs. Keep your eyes open for a retail park or mall with the sign that says Spargs, with a Super Spar inside it. This is your stop.
7. Cross the street to Spargs then continue in the direction you were driving until you reach Beaconhurst, then turn right.
8. Walk a while. This is a relatively quiet residential area, so you may feel uncomfortable after spending so much time on Oxford and Devereux. Just try to relax and enjoy the walk.
9. Turn left on Blue Bend road, and you’ll see the sign for WESSA, within the Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve, which is called the Dassie Trail by most locals. Tell the people at the booth that you’re going to WESSA and you won’t have to sign in. You’ve arrived!

My meeting with Catherine went very well. I immediately felt at home in her office, surrounded by environmental messages and recycling bins. Unfortunately most of their activities are finished for the year, since schools were busy with exams, but she had a few things I could become involved with, including assessments of the Eco-Schools portfolios. She also got me in touch with Jakob and Paula, two young German volunteers who are working on setting up an environmental club at Inkwenkwezi High School in Mdantsane. I left very happy, but again wishing that I’d found WESSA sooner.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Discovering WESSA

Image credit: www.wessa.org.za

I was walking through VP one day, minding my own business, when I saw a glowing radiance in front of me, in the form of a booth that WESSA, the Wilderness and Environment Society of South Africa, had set up. It was covered with beautiful posters and pamphlets about environmental education, stewardship, alternative energy, ecosystems, green efforts . . . all the things I love the most. I stood for a few minutes just admiring the booth and soaking up all its environmental goodness, so proud of VP for holding something so beautiful and wonderful, then gathered up a variety of newsletters and pamphlets from the table and set out to enjoy them. This is when I learned about all the great conservation efforts that WESSA is involved with, including the Eco-Schools Programme, which encourages and helps to fund environmental education and sustainability programs within local schools. I had no idea that such a thing existed here in South Africa, but I immediately decided that I wanted to get involved. So I stopped off at the internet across from VP and emailed the local chapter of WESSA to show my interest, then went to their website to find out more.

As it turns out, WESSA has been around since 1926, and has the vision "to achieve a South Africa which is wisely managed by all to ensure long-term environmental sustainability" (www.wessa.org.za). They're involved in all kinds of projects from wetland protection to beach clean-ups to environmental education, and produce publications for adults and children which spread environmental awareness and give ways to get involved with community actions. It really is a wonderful organization. They're not small, either: there are 52 WESSA branches across South Africa, the nearest one in Beacon Bay, which is in East London just past Nahoon. This is exactly the kind of organization I'd been looking for since before I arrived in South Africa, and it just makes me so happy to know that one really exists, and has an office so close to where I stay. I only wish that I'd found them earlier.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Political Dealings

Image: Zero Mostel as Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

There are a lot of things that are very similar between American and South African culture, but one thing that is distinctly different is politics. It’s always a challenge to understand what’s going on in politics in my own country, much less in other parts of the world, but I’m always eager to learn more about South African government and politics, and as such was excited when Kathy and Cornelius invited us to a meeting of the Unity Movement, a political movement they’re involved with. They have their issues with the movement, believing that they’re not moving anywhere, and will never get anything done unless they drastically change their approach. I’m not entirely sure about the principles upheld by this group, or what makes them different, but they are a bit socialist, and are against government corruption, inequality, and so on. When we arrived they told us that we were going to start off with a movie on slavery, so I quickly steeled myself for intense documentary of human trafficking, or History Channel special on the slave trade, or something heavy like that. Instead, when he put in the DVD it broke out in loud, cheesy music. We were watching A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, a musical. Not at all what I was expecting. It does have to do with slavery – it follows a slave, Pseudolus, as he works out a wild plot to buy his freedom, and involves various people enslaved in different ways – in marriage, prostitution, and under the eyes of strict parents, as well as traditional enslavement. It was funny, though somewhat raunchy and terribly irreverent.

After the movie finished we had a long discussion about the themes it held and how they can apply to the members of the group, as students and professionals living, gaining an education, and working in South Africa. I was actually really impressed with the heavy themes and connections they made from this ridiculous movie, extracting very serious ideas about gender, enslavement and inequality from the most obscure scenes. The main idea of the discussion ended up being about how they as non-white South Africans face a kind of enslavement through the limitations that government, culture and even their own perceptions and psychological limitations have placed upon them. The conversation ranged from the definition of freedom within a democratic society and the question of whether personal freedoms have to be sacrificed for the good of the whole, to specific issues like the low quality of public education and health care, the ever-present issues of government corruption, and the need for bank reform. One of the men talked about how even though Apartheid had ended things had not necessarily improved – huge problems still exist within the government and people still don’t have equal opportunities, but the sense of community is lost. During Apartheid people came together in their protest against the government, unified and driven, but today they have become complacent, and simply accept government inadequacies rather than rising up against them. What I wanted through all of this was to hear the solutions, which is the same issue that Kathy and Cornelius have voiced about this group. Anyone can name off the problems that exist within government, and there are always plenty to choose from, but it doesn’t do you any good unless you have solutions to those problems, or alternatives that would lessen these problems in the future. And once you have those solutions and alternatives, you need to get them outside of your own group and into the public eye, so that you have the possibility of actually creating change.

After the discussion we moved into the other room and split up into separate tables, the official meeting over, though the conversations all around were still coming off of the same vein. I ended up talking to Cornelius and another man about American politics, describing the major differences between Democrats and Republicans but explaining that, in the end, we’re always in essentially the same place. It was a long night filled with a lot of heavy discussion – we had arrived at 7:30 and didn’t leave until midnight. I really enjoyed it though; I always like to talk politics.

Chicken Livers?!

Image credit: Above: Chicken livers. Source: http://whatdidyoueat.typepad.com
Below: Freshpak, the least expensive and best rooibos tea (and the kind Janie bought).
Source: http://southafricanfood.ie/store/

One night we went out to see Auntie P. in Parkside, as we often do, and she made for us her specialty: chicken livers. It was one of those nights when I was very happy to be vegetarian. Actually, I have a lot of those nights. She heated a bit of vegetable curry for me while she cooked the livers. They’re not such an uncommon ingredient here in South Africa, and come in a plastic container like cottage cheese. AP poured a few cups of vegetable oil into a frying pan then added the reddish meat, letting it soak up the oil and slowly fry as she chopped up the pieces with a spatula. I didn’t watch too closely; I’ve never liked meat preparation. It makes the actual identity of the meat much too clear. A few minutes later, after constant stirring and simmering, she scooped the oily brown meat into bowls – a solid bowlful for each person – and set them on the table, along with a loaf of bread. Everyone got to work, scooping the juicy mince onto bread and eating it in big mouthfuls. I followed suit, eating my curry in the same way, though its soupier texture made it more difficult, and I occasionally resorted to a spoon. It took a good five or six slices of bread for each person to finish off their whole bowl, and of course it was not an option to leave any food behind. I was happy to have vegetables in my meal, instead of pure bread and protein. As we ate we talked about other ‘unique’ South African meat dishes: walkie talkies, made of chicken feet and heads, and smiley – a sheep’s head. Apparently when you cook it, the lips spread into a grotesque smile. Again, I like my vegetarianism. Some people say I’m missing out on important pieces of South African culture, but I say there are some aspects of culture that really aren’t necessary to experience firsthand.

Later in the night, Janey, Macrae, Auntie P. and I had a long discussion about 7 de Laan, which has seen a lot of intense drama the last few days. It’s pretty useful being caught up on South Africa’s most popular soap opera. And, of course, we have a special connection to the cast, after meeting them at VP. It’s nice to sit there in the uncomfortable stools at the tall counter in AP’s small kitchen, just chatting and laughing and arguing about who’s stalking who and whether so-and-so is too old for Annelie.

We had a brief intermission as I went with Janey to the corner shop to get more Rooibos tea. This shop is on the next corner over from their house, and has all the basic necessities. A dog and a small crowd of kids were standing in the doorway, the dog being shooed absentmindedly by a distracted-looking woman, though it clearly wasn’t going to move. It’s a small shop, maybe 20x20, with all the merchandise stacked on shelves behind a metal cage and a woman sitting at the counter within the cage, behind a gap just big enough to pass parcels through. A couple very small kids were buying individual cigarettes, for parents I’m sure, and a few other women were standing in the open area and chatting. Janey went up to the counter and asked for rooibos, which the woman pulled down from a shelf and handed to her in exchange for a 10 rand note.

After tea, which is a must for any visit (with anyone), we all cuddled together on the well-worn, comfortably sagging couches and watched a bit of SA’s Got Talent in the TV room. The TV is a new addition – Auntie P talked about how, a year ago, they all got on without any TV and would just sit and talk together, but now they can’t survive without it. We all sighed over an incredibly talented 14-year-old boy flawlessly singing Alicia Keys, and stared open-mouthed at the young woman singing a song she had written entitled “The Pain,” complete with some lyrics in the language she invented herself. That poor girl, so sincere but so misguided.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Sublime and Ecotourism

Images: Above: A B&B at Hogsback, South Africa. Source: aatravel.co.za
Image 2: Some of the South African nature-based tourism brochures I've collected.
Image 3: Young Zulus performing a traditional Zulu warrior dance. Source: south-africa-tours-and-travel.com

I have long been using this blog to explore the topics of ecotourism and the sublime individually, but have until now put little effort into connecting the two, though the connections are engrained into the very essence of ecotourism. The elements that define the sublime in nature – seclusion, Otherness, vastness, astonishment – are exactly the components that are offered, at least in theory, by ecotourism. This brand of travel offers access to remote, pristine natural places which have not been developed or degraded by the hand of man, accompanied by the promise that they never will meet such a fate. Essentially, it offers the sublime: immense distance from the familiar, physical and mental escape from the complexity and drudgery of everyday life, and the opportunity to experience an ancient, untamed and untamable world. The ecotourist expects experiences rivaling those of Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway, Percy Shelley and other great travel writers: true adventure, filled with the excitement of novelty and discovery. The reality may not be quite as romantic as these expectations, but in theory, this is exactly what ecotourism offers.

Promotional materials for nature tourism and ecotourism draw on gently sublime imagery like that found in historical travel writing, using phrases such as “tranquil mountain surroundings” (Botlierskop Day Safaris), “breathtakingly beautiful” (Aquila Safaris), “unspoilt nature” (Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve), “largest wilderness on earth” (Schotia Safaris), "unbelievably dramatic view" ("The Edge" Mountain Retreat) and “pilgrimage through time” (Cango Caves). Bhejane Adventures goes further by offering that imagery in the experience itself: “the Knysna forests conjure images from well read stories, of phantom elephants, wood-cutters, Italian settlers and lost travelers.” It goes on to say that the forest “has been off-limits to anybody . . . Bhejane Adventures has obtained the exclusive rights to take small groups of people . . . into the last remaining sections of the Knysna forests.” Martha Honey gave a similar example of the Cruise Company of Greenwich, which advertised “a visit to unknown lands, in this case in one of Costa Rica’s largest national parks: ‘The Corcovado area is so remote, inaccessible, and undisturbed that even most Costa Ricans have never visited.’ The notion that cruise ship passengers will machete their way through Corcovado’s dense, steep, and rain-drenched tropical forest is ludicrous, but the image is appealing” (Who Owns Paradise, 62). The tourist wants to experience something unique, authentic and as far from civilization and modern life as they can get; and in this distance, they have the chance to find that natural sublime that can only exist in such remote areas.

Although the advertising for these kinds of tours and experiences are often exaggerated, the conditions of ecotourism do provide an ideal setting for the sublime. Ecotourism requires the preservation of a natural area’s integrity, emphasizing the importance of leaving no impact on the environment. This means that the conditions are kept as pristine as possible, with less visible influence from man, and smaller numbers of people are allowed into vulnerable areas at one time, to minimize their negative impact. This allows the traveler to find greater seclusion and more authentic, unadulterated nature than in other forms of nature travel. Ecotourism’s inclusion of local culture can also encourage a sense of the sublime Other in the tourist. People are drawn by cultures that are distinctly different from their own, and especially enjoy seeing those that appear to be living pre-modern lifestyles, without modern technology and with a greater connection to nature. Not only does this give them that sense of separation and seclusion from the familiar that can facilitate the sense of the sublime, but it excites Romantic notions about the woes of industrialization and our loss of natural purity, which encouraged the original turn after the Industrial Revolution to the natural and sublime by Romantic poets. Thus cultural preservation becomes profitable to local people, encouraging them to resist Westernization or at least put on displays of traditional culture, which attracts greater tourist attention. When surrounded by a culture that seems rooted in an ancient past and by nature that has resisted any human impact, the tourist is taken far away from the familiar, and with the realization of their separateness and lack of control, and without the distractions of technology and modernity, they have the possibility of experiencing the sublime.