The sub-title of this post is "If you are expecting first-world experiences, you best research the ports of call on your cruise".

Recently, I read a cruise review where the person noted that "poverty is depressing". They seemed surprised by the fact that the countries they visited had a lot of poverty. Considering the cruise being reviewed was through Central America, I had to wonder why the person was surprised. But clearly, they had no concept of the countries to which they were traveling.

Poverty is distressing but it is real. Coming face to face with it when unprepared for it can take a bit of getting used to. Too many people from first world countries take what they have for granted and seem to have expectations that everyone enjoys the same modern conveniences of life. That is just not the case.

I was blessed to have visited South Africa a few years ago. The living conditions I saw in the townships of Khayelitsha and Langa were like nothing I'd ever seen but I took the opportunity to learn about these places and met some of the people living there. People who were happy and thankful for what they had achieved.

Riding through villages on our excursions through Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama I realized again that not everyone in this world enjoys the same quality of life and standard of living... and that those things are quite relative. While I may not be able to imagine living in the same conditions, I respect that it is how some people live... quite happily at that.‚ I don't project my own beliefs and perspectives onto others and judge my surroundings to be depressing. Getting to know a couple of the locals gives context to what I see around me. 

‚I guess what I am getting around to is that while cruising is a fabulous way to travel, the ports we visit and the surrounding countryside are not necessarily living in the same first-world status from where we all come from. It is very important to do a bit of research into the area(s) into which you cruising before deciding on an itinerary. If second or third world surroundings is likely to be depressing to you, maybe it is better to pick another voyage.