by Paul Ross
Remember when you were a kid and some relative dragged you, with the best of intentions, to an historical “re-creation” because it was fun AND educational!? You don’t remember what you learned -- so much for education. And it was only slightly more fun for you than for the poor souls who suffered through the real thing ... because they were so miserable, they didn’t mind dying at age 19 from enlarged pores while semi-skilled barbers attached leeches to their appendages.
Photo Slide Show by Paul Ross
These glossed-over, sanitized, falsely nostalgic, contemporarily cosmetic pseudo-experiences invariably celebrate a time of exploitation. And the POV romantically, religiously and ideologically chosen is from the lowest rung of the social ladder. The idea may be noble, but you are not.
The very plain truth is that at Williamsburg, Gettysburg and the Alamo, they stressed under threat of enemy attack. At Valley Forge and Dawson City, they froze. And everywhere, they starved. But today, there are snack bars and the following delights - -
“Back with The Wind”
The ultimate plantation vacation of 12-hour days pickin’ cotton in the sun will leave you toned and tan. And it’s all accompanied by Southern cooking in spa-sized portions.
But there’s culture too!— it’s called “Banjo.”
If You Go: Take the underground railroad to Legree’s Landing, turn left at the swamp and listen for the sound of barking hounds. They’ll come get you.
Accepts Master’s Card.
“16 Tons ... of Fun!”
Revel in America’s fossil fuel past in the coal, coal ground. Great for kids (it’s their past too) and you don’t have to worry about sunscreen.
Don’t miss the cave-in!
If You Go: Take the Penn State turnoff and then it’s 3 miles –straight down.
Wednesday is free canary give-away and a screening of “Shaft.”
...and, when you come up for air, make it salty with—
“Jolly Roger’s Sea Cruise”
The only trip where you make money. Options include: your choice of forfeit body part and surprising your friends on their cruise ships.
What sounds like more fun, hitting port or plunder? (Pillage is extra.)
Take a chance on the new “Somali Surprise.”
If You Go: It’s as easy as having a drink at Shang Hy’s Saloon, the next thing you’ll know – you’re there.
“Ye Olde Compleat Lack o’ Pleasure Fayre”
You’ll be dancing in the Dark Ages at this never before re-enacted time. Share a lard pie with a rat and fear the church as you fight off the evening chill warming yourself around a roaring witch. (Tell the Mrs she’d better be nice.)
If You Go: Cage ‘n Cart transportation services offers door-to-door transfers from all minor villages.
“Trail of Tears Hiking Adventures”
You won’t know when or where you’re going and have no idea how long it will take, so even seasoned walkers are in for a real mental and physical challenge. Here is a learning opportunity that will never have you looking at a Native American casino the same way ever again.
If You Go: Apply to general delivery, space is limited. All guides are bi-lingual, but not in English.
Now, bringing us up to the present, you’ve got—
“Inner City Scene”
Ghetto or Barrio, there’s a side of your town you don’t know.
This is the traditional part of the immigrant experience you thought was buried with your grandparents. Prices are high/quality low, cops are everywhere yet crime is rampant, having babies can earn you money but having sex will kill you - IT’S A TOPSY-TURVY WORLD!
If You Go: Don’t plan on getting there by cab.
Want more?—Then it’s an easy segue to—
“The Shawshank Vacation”
3 squares a day and 4 walls—guaranteed. Crafts. A gym. The most unique people tyou will ever meet. You’ll love your roommate and, at night, vice-versa. You may even see a celebrity!
If You Go: Due to the all-inclusive format, minimum bookings are 5 to 10.
And there are many more to choose from, including: “Red Lite De-Lite” (the world’s oldest profession is travel’s newest immersion diversion); “Shake ‘n Bake” (Honeymooners -try a hot spot on the ring of fire and the earth will really move for you); “Medical Mystery Tour” (it’s fun to keep your doctor guessing – if you make it back).
Which all goes to prove . . .
“Those who repeat the past are condemned not to learn from it.”
Paul Ross is a Santa Fe-based photographer and writer. See more of his work at www.globaladventure.us.