Wednesday, June 12, 2013

When Money Doesn´t Matter

The four countries that have had the greatest impact on me are all in Europe. One of them is in western Europe; three of them are in eastern Europe. Two of these eastern European locations are on the top ten list of poorest countries on the continent. Below are the results a 2012/2013 CIA survey regarding income levels for these two countries (plus others).

Country                                       Per Capita Income (USD)
1.Moldova                                             3,500
2. Kosovo                                             7,400
3. Ukraine                                             7,600
4. Albania                                              8,000
5. Bosnia and Herzegovina                     8,300
6. Serbia                                              10,500
7. Macedonia                                       10,700
8. Montenegro                                     11,700
9. Romania                                          12,800
10. Bulgaria                                         14,500
Source: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)--United States Here´s the link if you´re craving more (pretty pictures to convince you to visit included).

Although I was only in Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina for a total of about nine days, I had so many jaw-dropping moments, so many ¨a-ha´s¨.

It´s safe to say that most North Americans would brush off many of these struggling countries with their superiority complex and comments like ¨Serbia? Bosnia? Aren´t they still at war?¨ Who can blame them, though? Anything we´ve heard regarding the Balkans has been about the war, almost as a warning to stay away. When was the last time you saw an advertisement for Bosnian coffee or to skip Hawaii and go to Bulgaria´s Black Sea instead?

And Serbia?? Pff, they shouldn´t need any advertisement. Hidden among the clothing boutiques and outlets are dusty corner stores where hat makers perfect their trade. Hat makers. (I almost bought a dark-green winter hat  made from rabbit´s skin by the shoppe keeper herself. Unfortunately, my parents had already relocated from Wyoming to Las Vegas. sigh. I could have been as cool as this guy, but green).

My point is this:
You´ll see things none of your family or friends will believe. You may not even believe some of it but who knows what it is that will change the way you see the world until you set out. Don´t be afraid of stereotypes built by your culture. You´ll be more significant and interesting to people with yearly incomes equal to what some spend on one hand of Baccarat than to a few head honchos at an international hub in London or Paris, promise. Instead, go someplace that might scare you. I guarantee the beauty you´ll find will be worth the cost.

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