Paula I Arraiza

Greyhound Strangers

Progym: Impersonation

“These were my thoughts as I looked at the other passengers and noted a woman wearing a bologna sandwich on her head. Was there really a bologna sandwich on her head? Yes, unmistakably. Also, she wore a blue Snuggie.” (in Savannah)

(from the woman’s point of view)

As time passed on my extremely long journey to God-knows-where, I felt myself begin to go more and more crazy. Being confined to buses for long days and nights, with nowhere to sleep comfortably or any real food has definitely taken a toll on me. At this point in the journey, I do not care how I act or what I eat or what I’m wearing, or who around me is judging me. As my stomach growled from extreme hunger, caused by consuming sugar-filled snacks and a tremendous amount of gas station coffee for days on end, I saw my salvation coming near me: a sandwich shop. I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing, I was so sleep deprived I could’ve cried from happiness. I skipped down the bus stairs like a kid coming down a bus to go into Disney World for the first time. With my blue Snuggie on for maximum comfort and not a care in the world, I went into this random sandwich shop to buy what felt like a gourmet meal. For some reason, my stomach decided it was craving bologna, so I obeyed and ordered a bologna sandwich. I happily walked my way back to the bus, which would hold me captive for a few more days before I reached my destination. I sat down on a random chair and decided, for some unknown reason except my craziness from this bus, to see how people would react if I held my beloved sandwich on top of my head. I got many odd looks, which were completely valid, but it was a fun time for me. At least I have this delicious sandwich and my comfortable Snuggie to keep me company for the rest of my journey.



Paula I Arraiza

Vanity Within Traveling

Progym: Refutation

While Cardell and Douglas make some valid points about selfies can be complex and have meaningful value, I believe these pictures are mainly still taken with nothing but a vain purpose behind them. In their writing, the two authors go in-depth about people taking selfies when on a trip, specifically in historical sites where it can be deemed as insensitive. When talking about one of these places, the ANZAC Cove in Turkey, they mention that

“Visitors to this site are drawn to the particular national context and complex history of the site, but they are also increasingly tourists, equipped with mobile devices and engaging in performances of documentation and memory-making that exceeds, or extends, the commemorative function of the site in its geographical location”

Because of this, tourists are prone to take pictures and selfies no matter the place. They argue that while it can be seen as impolite and careless, these pictures can be taken with the purpose of reflecting on the meaning of said place or to teach a certain audience about it.

While this is a strong point, I believe they are being too optimistic about it. Yes, some people do take selfies with the intent to tell a story or educate others, many tourists take selfies to post on social media for others to see where they are. I’m sure we’ve all taken a selfie before while on vacation, and I’m also sure we haven’t thought “I’m going to post this to teach something about the place I’m at.” Instead, most of the time we’re thinking “I’m going to post this so people close to me (or whoever follows you) can see where I’m at” or “I’m going to post this so I can look back on this moment and the place I was visiting.” I admit I’m part of this, if you look at my Instagram it’s filled with travel pictures where the main focus is myself and not the place, which I posted with no real purpose except wanting to share where I was at and remember it. There’s a sense of vanity that comes when taking a posting a selfie, whether we admit it or not. As the authors themselves mention,

“The selfie in everyday life, as in travel, is evidence and “bragging” in the context of “I was here”

After all, the main focus of the picture is us and not the place we’re visiting, which attests to our purpose when taking and posting said image. Would we focus the picture on ourselves if the goal was to bring attention to the place we’re at, or to teach others something about the place? There’s definitely nothing wrong with posting a travel selfie. In the end, it’s our account and we have the liberty to post whatever we want to, as long as it follows the guidelines. However, we shouldn’t think there’s a greater purpose for what we’re doing in order to make ourselves feel better about it. While I do agree that we take selfies with the intent to share our experiences with those who follow us, I don’t think that in most cases this has any other greater purpose behind it except letting others know about our fun vacation.

Paula I Arraiza

Airplane Nostalgia

Type of Progym: Description

“The thought of my sisters and me, so young then and so untroubled, was sobering, and within a minute, Chris Rock or no Chris Rock, I was the one crying on the night flight to Paris. It wasn’t my intention to steal anyone’s thunder; a minute or two was all I needed. But, in the meantime, here we were: two grown men in roomy seats, each blubbering in his own élite puddle of light.”

I’ve always found planes to be extremely nostalgic and sentimental places. Flights are filled with people from all different walks of life, while you may be going on an exotic holiday the person sitting next to you might be coming back home and dreading doing so. However, there’s something about the silence and fluorescent light of an airplane that always makes me reminisce and over-analyze every single moment of my life. Our lives are usually so busy that we don’t get time to just sit alone with our thoughts for even a couple of minutes yet being on a long flight is the perfect opportunity to do so. We get completely disconnected from the world as we know it, with no contact with the world as we know it. It becomes one of the only moments where we can actually sit in peace with our thoughts, without any distraction except a stewardess asking if you want more snacks. As someone who can never sleep on a plane no matter what I do to try and relax, it always feels as if I’m the only one actually there, along with two or three other people suffering from the same restlessness as me. As the lights are shut down except for the fluorescent emergency and bathroom signs and maybe one or two reading lights, my mind always begins to wander and analyze my own life. Even as I try to distract myself by watching another subpar movie, which I won’t pay attention to at all, I always end up going back to thinking and doing some sort of deep introspection of my feelings, something I rarely do. With my noise-canceling headphones blaring some sort of calming playlist, which is most likely filled with emotional songs, to try and get myself to sleep for at least ten minutes, my mind always reaches a place I can only reach when I wake up abruptly at three in the morning while everyone in the house is sleeping. Somehow, just like Sedaris and the Polish man, I end up shedding a tear or two thinking of some nostalgic moment I’ve lived through, or realizing I need to completely change some part of my life in order to better myself, or reminiscing on the marvelous trip I just had or am about to have. Whatever it may be, flights are always filled with tremendous emotion and thoughts I wouldn’t have the time to think had I been having a normal day on land.

Paula I Arraiza

“The Beauty is in the Details”

Type of Progym: Encomium

“photography will tour the world for us and bring back the universe in a portfolio, without our needing even to stir from our armchair” (9)

If I could travel with just one thing, it would undoubtedly be a camera. I’ve always loved taking pictures, especially of nature or any sort of landscape. Even though I don’t pick up my camera as much as I used to, every time I go on a trip I come back thinking I should do it more often. Something about it has always been so relaxing to me, yet I’ve never been able to pinpoint why this is. Every time I go to a new place, I come back with thousands of new pictures, probably way more than I should’ve taken in the first place. Most of these end up being of the architecture around me, many times of the same place from different angles. While some may say spending the entire trip photographing sights won’t allow us to see a place for what it is, I don’t necessarily agree. Sometimes, photographing the sights different places have to offer us can help us focus on small details, especially when it comes to architecture. I’ve always been mesmerized by the different styles of architecture places around the world have to offer, which is probably why I these are one of my favorite things to photograph. Just like the article mentions, humans aren’t the main focus in these pictures, it is instead different details these places have to offer. From the “Bean” in Chicago to the Moroccan-inspired architecture of the Alhambra, capturing the magnificent details of these places can help us appreciate them even more. Sometimes when visiting these places, our eyes can only focus on so much. With so much to admire, a picture is a great way to look back and analyze the small details we may have not seen when we were there in person. Personally, I could look through pictures of old trips and overanalyze the details in each photograph for hours, feeling mesmerized by the sights I’ve previously experienced. I probably do this way more than I would like to admit, possibly because I love the feeling of nostalgia and amazement it gives me. While the pictures are definitely not out of the ordinary, they make me feel as if I was back in the moment where I took the picture, experiencing for the first time all over again.

Paula I Arraiza

Corrupt Islands

Type of Progym: Commonplace

About two days after Election Day, I continue to feel extremely cynical about my home island’s government. While Kincaid showcased a lovely side to Antigua, she even compares the beauty of the island to “a stage set for a play” (77), I couldn’t help but focus on her criticism about Antigua’s government. Kincaid shows us how corrupt a country can be no matter how small it is, with stories from unrepaired libraries to drug trafficking ministers. Many of her stories resonated with me, since corruption has always been a big topic in my home, Puerto Rico. Kincaid mentions how Antiguans constantly talk negatively about the government, she says that

“For the answer on every Antiguan’s lips to the question ‘What is going on?’ is ‘The government is corrupt. Them are thief, big thief’ (41)

While it may seem exaggerated to blame everything wrong with a place on the government not working correctly, this is the case in many places. I’ve grown up watching government scandals on the news basically every week, to the point where I’m not fazed by them anymore. I heard and continue to hear people complaining about how ineffective the government is from a local level up to a national level. Especially in recent years, the Puerto Rican government has been extremely unproductive and critiqued by everyone.

I could make a list of ways I’ve seen corruption in my country, but it would probably end up being extremely long. Probably the one that stands out, and hurts, the most was having the government hide about ten trailers of provisions sent by the United States to help out citizens after hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, which many believe was done in order to make the U.S. look bad. These supplies would’ve quite literally saved people’s lives, yet they refused to do anything for political reasons. Right now, there is extreme controversy in regard to the elections held on Tuesday. Once again, some ballots that were “hidden” were found on Wednesday night, an entire day after the new governor had been announced. These are expected to be around fifty thousand votes that have yet to be counted, which would be crucial since the election was an extremely tight race. On top of that, the newly elected governor had also been named governor back in 2019 after our then-current governor had to resign, due to corruption-related allegations, and was impeached after less than a week.

Things like this certainly happen in other countries, however having to live them so constantly and have it affect my daily life and the lives of those around me definitely makes me feel pessimistic toward the people who hold high positions such as governors, senators, and mayors, as well as what they stand for. It definitely hurts to see the majority of the people on the island continue to support the same parties and officials that are known for being corrupt. It makes it even harder to achieve the change these same people talk about with such passion while being the problem themselves. Watching the election results intensified these feelings I already had, as well as reading about Kincaid’s experience in Antigua, it’s still sad to see people still not working towards a change after everything we have collectively lived through.

Disclaimer: I know there are more important points Kincaid touches on in her book and this has nothing to do with travel at all, but I couldn’t get this out of my mind when it came to writing a response to her (excellent) book.


Paula I Arraiza

Good Food and Good Memories

Type of Progym: Narrative

Watching Anthony Burdain eat an array of unique dishes in Egypt is certain to make anyone hungry and extremely jealous of him in the best way possible. I’m sure everyone right now would love to be in a foreign country having a delicious meal they wouldn’t get anywhere else. Seeing him have such an array of food had me reminiscing on all the delicious meals I’ve had during visits to other places. While I would give anything right now to have some cochinillo in Segovia or bratwurst in Berlin, my mind can’t stop thinking about the exquisite food I had at a random restaurant in DC. A couple of days before starting college, I met up with a friend who lives near DC before she left for college in New York. She found a Spanish tapas restaurant called Estadio, which neither of us had heard before but we decided to try out anyway. It was probably the best decision of our entire lives. We didn’t realize it was a tapas place, so we accidentally ordered one dish each. Not only did I make a fool of myself by trying to order a drink and then realizing I wasn’t of age (where I come from it is legal to drink if you’re over 18), she was extremely confused by our small order. I had the garlic shrimp and my friend had grilled calamari, which were both extremely delicious. While we were shocked to see such small plates come back, which we had already been warned about, we still enjoyed them more than anything. After finishing our seafood, both of us decided we wanted to try more things. Still not following the “rules” of a tapas restaurant, which is to order dishes for the table and share them, we both got the exact same thing: a classic Spanish bocadillo, which is just a sandwich with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese. Once again, even though it was a simple sandwich, it tasted like nothing we had ever had before. I’m a huge chocolate lover and dessert person, so I had my eye on the flourless chocolate cake served with caramel ice cream. I’m normally not a fan of caramel, but the way it paired with the chocolate-ness of the cake made it perfect. It was so good, both of us still constantly think about it. The cake had us wanting even more, so we ended up ordering another piece, which may seem extreme, but it was completely worth it. While we left completely full and with a “food baby”, we didn’t regret a thing. To this day, it is still one of my favorite meals I’ve had not only during my time in DC but in general. If I had pictures of what we had I’d include them, but we were too captivated by our meals to even think of photographing them. I may be overselling this place because I’m extremely hungry right now, but it was still an amazing meal we both still think of more than a year later.



Paula I Arraiza

Portrayal of Women and Men in Advertisement

Progym: Comparison

In order to get her point across, Hope spends a lot of time comparing advertisements that focused on women to those that focus on men. The characteristics used in each type of advertisement are similar to gender norms society expects each gender to follow, with women being more sensual and passive and men being more adventurous and dominant. She uses examples of various advertisements, from the Buffalo Pan American’s depiction of Niagara Falls as a woman to Marbolo advertisements that feature cowboys.  She compares the relationship both types of ads have to nature, stating that women tend to be a part of nature in advertisements, while men are seen as individuals who enjoy nature. Hope states that

“Advertisements that portray an unspoiled natural world as feminized picture a fertile passive earth ready for erotic seduction, available for pleasure, and infinite in bounty. In contrast, masculinized environments present the earth as a vast wilderness created for conquest, adventure and challenge.” (162)

She explains different ways ads achieve this, talking about how the colors used in each type represent each gender, with those representing women showcasing brighter colors and those that depict men using darker tones. All of this works together to create the image each type wants to showcase in regard to each gender;

“Woman and nature are sites for erotic play or nurture of men and children. Color palettes reflect the shades of the tropics, emphasizing multihued greens of plants and water, golds, yellows and whites of diluted sunshine, and muted pastels with small spots of bright reds, blues and purples. Image focus is often soft.” (160)

“The features of these advertisements emphasize a mythic world where men play at heroics and a vast environmental wilderness promises control and adventure. Nature is the object of conquest or background for demonstrations of power. Iconic representations feature rocks, hard edges, deserts, mountain ranges, canyons, snowy peaks, bright sunshine and wide skies. Colors are typically high contrast and dramatic and frequently reflect the reds, browns, blues and whites of the west “ (161-162)

The main focus of these advertisements seems to be depicting women as more abstract and docile, while men are more concrete and active. This is shown through various details in the advertisements, such as the colors and details used in each one. Similar to the role women are expected to play of being more passive and submissive toward men, while men are expected to be tough and dominant. Through her comparison and explanation of the depiction of men and women in ads, what she seems to be getting at, at least in my opinion, is the fact that men and women are perceived differently by society and thus advertisements play into these perceptions in order to appeal to a certain type of public.





Paula I Arraiza

The Problem with Tourists with Typewriters

Type of Progym: Vituperation

For anyone who loves to travel, nothing would be better than getting paid to do exactly that. Alacovska believes people like this, who are willing to write about their experiences in exchange for a trip somewhere are harmful to the travel guidebook industry and experienced writers working in this field. They are basically travelers, or people interested in traveling, who want to get into the field of travel writing because they find it lavish and a good way to travel the world.

These types of writers tend to be inexperienced and naïve, many times willing to work for low wages. Alacovska describes them as

“relatively inexperienced young writers writing collaboratively about any topic and any location without specialized knowledge.” (51)

Basically, lots of people would love to be able to visit pretty places and write mediocre pieces about them, just because it means they get to travel. This ends up hurting those who are experienced in the field because there are many who are willing to do their job for way less. Not only this, the entire industry is portrayed in a bad light, since many believe the writers are subpar.

“The industry tendency to deskill authors to the point that they became interchangeable reinforced the already low status of travel (guidebook) writing.” (52)

Basically, due to the extensive amount of people willing to take this job, and end up doing it, the travel guidebook writing field is looked down upon. These types of writers are extremely hurtful to the industry and professional writers inside of it, since it hurts their credibility immensely. Not only that, it may leave many amazing writers without a job, or make them settle for less.  Similarly, experienced writers also mention that the job is not as fun and easy as it actually seems. Alacovska shows various anecdotes of qualified writers in this field;

“My problem (problem?) is that I’d travel, take photos and write in my free time . . . if I had any free time. I don’t. I’m too busy traveling, taking photos and writing. I’m as happy, as Tom Lehrer said, as the young necrophiliac who achieved his lifelong ambition by becoming a coroner.” (49)

“Travel writing is unfortunately neither travel nor writing. It is not sexy. It is not fun. It is hard work. There are many responsibilities, for the readers, for those people out there” (52)

I admit it may definitely be tempting to dedicate your life to traveling and writing pieces about it, there are many things about the job that should be considered before dedicating to it. If you are doing it for the sole purpose to get to travel all over the world, you should reconsider before doing it. While many do have the talent it takes to be successful and write great travel pieces, many other people are just along for the free ride. Someone who enters this field should do it because of their love and talent for writing, not only because they enjoy traveling.




Paula I Arraiza

Being “Pampered to Death”

Type of Progym: Thesis or Theme

Wallace constantly mentions how people go on cruises to relax or get away from their busy lifestyles. His experience in the Nadir was nothing less than this, from the steward leaving a mint every time she made his bed to having someone carry his own bag for him. Certainly, the cruise’s advertisement for pampering seems to live up to its word. However, do we really want to be “pampered to death”, in Wallace’s own words, or is this just what we are made to believe we should want?

When reading about Wallace’s experience, it’s easy to think “who wouldn’t want to experience all of that?” It definitely sounds amazing to have someone,

“bring you a lobster- as well as a second and even a third lobster with methamphetaminic speed but also incline over you with gleaming claw-cracker and surgical fork arid dismantle it for you, sparing you the green goopy work that’s the only remotely rigorous thing about lobster.”

After all, we constantly find ourselves wanting to relax and recharge for a while after having a stressful period of time. The best way to do so always seems to be the most extravagant and luxurious one, since it will give us everything we want and more. It’s definitely an offer you can’t pass on.

However, we don’t really need all of these luxury and people doing everything for us to be able to relax. Getting away from the stress of your life doesn’t need to be something so exaggerated, sometimes a fun staycation can do the trick. There’s not really a need to be “pampered to death” in order to unwind. While it would definitely be nice to have all the luxury of the Nadir, there’s no need to be crowded with lobsters and extra towels to have a good time away from everything. There’s still beauty in the simple things, such as taking a few hours in the day to reconnect with yourself and forget about the world around you.

The cruise’s goal is to sell you an experience that makes you want to come back. However, just as Wallace experienced, it’s easy to keep wanting something even better once you’re already there.

“After a few days of delight and then adjustment on the Nadir, the Pamper-swaddled part of me that WANTS is now back, and with a vengeance. By Wednesday, I’m acutely conscious of the fact that the A.C. vent in my cabin hisses (..).”

The pampering and relaxation we experience become a momentary solution, quickly making us wish we had something better and even more relaxing. Therefore, not allowing us to reach peak tranquility and making us want even more than what we already have. Since technically nothing can be perfect, we become stuck in this loop of wanting more and more forever, never being truly satisfied.



Paula I Arraiza

“Why Are You Here?”

Type of Progym: Fable

“The universal topic of discussion is ‘Why Are You Here?’ Nobody uses the word ‘pamper’ or ‘luxury.’ The word that gets used over and over is ‘relax.’ Everybody characterizes the upcoming week as either a long-put-off reward or a last-ditch effort to salvage sanity and self from some inconceivable crockpot of pressure, or both.”

“So, why are you here?” a middle-aged man asks to a couple who’s also around his same age. Both families are sitting down by the pool as the cruise ship sails away to a random island in the Caribbean from Florida.

“We’ve had a stressful couple of weeks and needed to get away from all of the chaos.”, the second man responds as they munch on some subpar burgers and sip on fruity cocktails.

“Same thing for us, we felt as if we deserved a break after working for hours on end. You can never go wrong with a cruise for getting away”, the first man says while lounging in his loud-patterned shorts and flip flops.

“Definitely, there’s nothing better than laying under the hot sun without a care in the world”, the first man’s wife responds, taking a break from reading a fashion magazine she purchased at one of the cruise ship’s gift shops.

“If we didn’t take a trip soon, we would’ve ended up going crazy and probably divorcing each other. The stress was too much” the second wife chimes in as she laughs.

“Agreed.” Her husband says and laughs along.

“Well you’re lucky, the relaxation of a cruise can fix everything. You’ll go back home a new couple” the first man tells the couple next to him.

“We can see. We haven’t felt so calm in so long and it’s only been a day. Seems like it’ll be a good week” the second husband agrees while sipping the rest of his drink before leaving.

“We might have to do this go on trips like this more often. It was good to meet you” the second wife says as she stands up and leaves with her husband to their cabin for an afternoon nap before dressing up in some fancy attire for dinner.

The couples continue to run into each other throughout the week, greeting each other every time as if they had known each other for years. However, once the week ends both couples go back to their busy lives to repeat the entire cycle all over again.