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Juan Pablo Villarino on Travel and Trust (Ep. 44)

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Mercatus Center
Jul 3, 2018 · 44 min read
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If you look at a world map and you look at a strange place like Kyrgyzstan or Greenland, and then you feel butterflies in your stomach, then you should pay attention to signals and then go for it and not just pretend it’s not happening.

COWEN: What’s the single most concrete feature of this new life that has so drawn you in? Is it seeing new faces every day or the thrill of the unexpected? Simply being able to walk so much, talking with drivers? What would it be?

On how to get a lift

COWEN: What strategies do you employ so that drivers, indeed, strangers trust you more?

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What I think happens is that somehow our society has driven us into the idea that you have your own house, and when you get out of the house, you just move into your little bit of moving private space, into your car. And it’s sometimes difficult to break that cycle and be ready to share, to meet, to mix.

COWEN: In a typical year, how many months of the year are you out there hitchhiking?

But I think that the general difficulties of traveling as a woman are not really different from the general difficulties of living as a woman in our society.

On dark secrets shared

COWEN: Right. What’s the deepest darkest secret you’ve ever heard from someone who has picked you up?

On the countries he’s traveled

COWEN: My favorite song about hitchhiking is probably Marvin Gaye, “Hitch Hike.” You have a favorite song about hitchhiking?

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Colombia — ahh! People, they have poetry when they speak. You can speak with anyone there. It doesn’t matter which walk of life that he belongs to. It can be a coffee collector. It can be the owner of a company. They will have the same cautious way of speaking.

Even though it’s not actually easy to hitchhike in Colombia because of all of the problems they have had with guerrillas and kidnapping. They are a bit cautious at the time of giving you a ride, but once you are there and you are talking to people — I really wish everyone could spend a couple of days and months in Colombia to take all the stress away.

On the biases travel brings

COWEN: OK. The knowledge one gains from travel — it’s very strong, it’s far reaching, it makes one more cosmopolitan, maybe instills some wisdom in us. But what biases does it bring to us? Just as people who don’t travel have biases, if you’ve traveled a lot, what biases are you likely to end up with that you need to guard against, precisely because you’ve traveled so much?

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The problem is that traveling, and even our role as bloggers, has fallen for some people only into promoting these nations, and you fall into the touristic aspect of it, while I try to enhance and stress the way travel can change the way you relate to the whole planet.

This also is a responsibility because the more you travel, and the more you get out of the abstract tags, and the more you’re able to relate to real people, then you start feeling empathy for real people from Colombia, Albania, Iraq, wherever.

Then you’re less prone to subscribe to any or to vote your own government in your home country, which is then going to declare war or sanctions on these countries.

On Argentina

COWEN: I have a few questions about Argentina, if I may.

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Conversations with Tyler

A podcast in which esteemed economist Tyler Cowen engages…

Mercatus Center

Written by

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas.

Conversations with Tyler

A podcast in which esteemed economist Tyler Cowen engages with today's most underrated thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between.

Mercatus Center

Written by

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas.

Conversations with Tyler

A podcast in which esteemed economist Tyler Cowen engages with today's most underrated thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between.

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