Jim and his friends travel to Europe in chapters 44 and 45. Authenticity is questioned here, because a lot of the elements they found in Europe were Americanized. Much of the trip reminisced of OC and that angered Jim. As a person who has traveled to Greece (but never to California) I can say definitively that Greece is a Mediterranean beauty. The people are generous, but slightly abrasive. They have no qualms with being honest, even brutally so. Something that connects to the “Americanization” of Greece I noticed was the locals’ lack of accents. Everyone in Greece had impeccable English with virtually no discernible Greek-inspired accent. Those who spoke English sounded like average Americans. It was interesting, to say the least. This is not my saying that Greeks purposely rid their accents, but it was definitely an aspect of the country I noticed quickly.
When Jim is moved by the poverty he sees abroad, and it sparks his desire for social justice, I could relate. This past January I studied abroad in South Africa. The poverty there compared to here is not comparable. People of color, during the apartheid, were partitioned to the outskirts of the city. Opposite of our inner-city ghettos, South Africa has deplorable townships. But the hope, friendliness, and plain love for life of the people who lived in the townships were unbelievable. We place so much emphasis on materialism and how we can buy our happiness we forget to appreciate the people around us, to embrace life with a vigor the South African township residents haven’t forgotten. It was empowering. This pairs nicely with the materialism and surface aesthetic in Gold Coast, of which Jim criticizes.
Traveling the world is honestly the only way you will ever truly appreciate the vastness and greatness of the peoples, cultures, and histories. But in place of everyone hopping on a plane, here are some pictures of my travels to both Greece and South Africa. (The pictures will strictly relate the this blog topic. If anyone wants to see other photos, let me know, as I love to share about my times abroad.)
As a side note, the McDonald’s in South Africa has McDelivery.
Robinson, Kim Stanley. The Gold Coast. New York, Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., 1988.