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Carly Murphy

my time at montserrat

By 2014, Europe No Comments

I had a really great time at Montserrat. But after sharing best bud nectarines with Ryan, and having him tell me about his day and his thoughts made me think: in having many tourists at a holy place, does it make it less holy? Does the ‘comodification’ of a place make it mean less? I couldn’t help but imagine a (personal) situation with the first (British) explorers to Montserrat, go back home to England and tell others of their amazing time and about the fascinating black Madonna. Then taking their friends to Monserrat, introducing them to the monks and having a really fantastic (and informative) experience there. THEN IT SPREAD. Until we get to where we are today, where people go not for themselves or the monks but because it is a thing people do.
Jasmine told me her experience at Monserrat and about how there was a fountain people were filling their water bottles up at (there was no line etc) and she didn’t have a bottle so she used her hands to bring water to her mouth. But then other tourists saw her and started to use their hands also??
Jazz calls this a tourist fad.

One of our community challenges was to hallow a place, not hollow it. I am not sure if I achieved that today, but maybe it is the after thought too that has an influence on hallow/hollow?

I feel very conflicted on whether tourism makes a place less holy. I think it’s a more personal feeling, like if you aren’t religious your experience is about something else (like history?), but if you are spiritual/religious I feel like it could evoke stronger feelings and it would still be holy. You feel me?

wasn’t sure about how much it cost to get into Montserrat, but I think that the experience was really what you made of it, whether you are going to the basilica, hiking or to the museum or what have you. I really don’t think that making it such a commodity has taken away the true meaning of Montserrat, and I think that if the price goes up or down it would just make it mean that much more who still visit the site. Because with higher prices, it might make people realize what a gift it is to be there, but with lower it could allow people who have a good experience able to go back.

this morning was an adventure

By 2014, Europe No Comments

I woke up to the sound of rain, frizzy hair, and splooshy sounds outside (aka under) my tent. My thoughts: blank and not surprised. I got dressed, started packing up my stuff and went outside.

Good things about this weather: the ground gets wet, nourishing all wildlife and continuing the water/life cycle.
Bad things about this weather: the ground gets wet.

Oddly enough the swoopy, thin, green leaved trees protected my tent a fair bit from the onslaught of heavy rain. However, my tent was selectively placed four days earlier in a plateau between two non-grass covered hills. This resulted in my tent becoming a wild wet cesspit river of:

weird yellow foam
dead things (read: bugs/crawly things)
alive things (see above)
my emotions
Thankfully, Ian came over to help me pack up my tent once I transferred all my personal belongings to the bus.
(Even with this assist though, my tent would still open up in Carcassonne covered with remnants of the morning’s adventure with yellow, foamy mud.)

Packing my stuff on the bus turned out go be an adventure in its own right, as whenever I would go to put my stuff on the bus, the bus would start moving. This ended up leaving me stranded in the rain with my bags, even though the leaders of the trip told me to “make sure you put your bags on the bus”, echoed by “load your tent on”, and “GET ON THE BUS”. (Yes, even when I went to join those already on the bus it moved.)

People under the canopy laughed at me, people on the bus laughed at me, and some giggle to this day about it.

Once firmly located on the bus, I was a soaking wet blob of cold clothes and hair, next to fellow blob, Jasmine Stairs. We were wet DOWN TO THE BONE. I stripped off my shoes (aware of the risk of a gross, foreign foot fungi (EWW!)), and Laura offered to hang my wet socks so they would dry. (As we would find out the next day, the bus is not the best place to air-dry things, due to lack of air circulation in that huge, metal, travelling can on wheels.)

On the trip to Carcassonne, it was revealed that the heating on the bus was not functional, and bus broke down about 4 times, according to Brian, but it was only for max 5 minutes at a time, so it wasn’t the worst thing ever. (Walter later told us that Brian was a bit emotional about the heat not working, so to joke about it was a no-no. (By emotional, I don’t mean he was a sobbing mess. Just that I forget what emotion Walter said, I personally think it was a mix of stress/embarrassment/frustration/whywhywhy. You feel me?)

After about the 2nd bus stop at a gas station, Jasmine declared: “SORRY, I AM NOW TOO GRUMPY TO SIT NEXT TO PEOPLE” and moved to the empty row in front of us, now me.

On arrival to Carcassone, I was just becoming dry. Raymond announced: “We have a booking” at the campsite, and it began to rain lightly. Have I expressed how much I love this day yet? Let’s do that now!

Reasons why this day was great:

I woke up in time for breakfast! Until now I had not made it on time, so one of my goals are now fulfilled.
the realization that my tent is more the “community tent”than any other.
I practiced my parkour skills in the rain, over puddles of mud.
as the first full day on the bus, I listened to my iPod the whole way in a very warm and humid hut under my blanket.
I played hacky sack with my friends outside a gas station during a bus stop.
I made it to Carcassonne alive and safe. (That’s always a good thing!)
This is where my day starts to turn into an ordeal.

When I set up my tent, I left the fly off and leaned the bottom on a gate so it would dry, as it was still damp all over. The wind kept tipping my tent over. When I got fed up with this I pegged my fly less tent, (noticing that to add to my zipper-defective tent I also had a splintering pole) left the door open and had my belongings beside the tent. The call for supper came, and I left my tent and belongings wide open.

You might assume that because I am creating the suspense for it, that my stuff was stolen in the 45 minutes I was gone. This was intentional, to lead you on.


Oh my god, I couldn’t take it anymore. So many things had happened today, it made me so frustrated, it felt like I was not supposed to be on the trip. I went off to die inside, and when I got back Nygel, Rosie and Andy were putting my fly on my tent, and Naomi cleaned up the mess on my tent and hugged me because I was really sad about today. (Proof of my “community tent” theory.)

I ended up staying back at the campsite to arrange my belongings/mind. I felt way better about the day come morning. (Also, the fact that my wet boots were on the bus all night, even though we were told to take everything off, made me feel like a little-bit of a rebellious badass.)

“Family?” Was Never A Question

By 2012, Asia No Comments

Filipino culture is largely family-oriented, with most families being extended, patriarchal and patrilocal. In rural Philippines I was quickly made aware that everyone was related in some way, whether it be by blood or alliance. The main reason for this is that when the Spanish colonized the Philippines in the 16th century, they also brought their beliefs, culture, and their way of life. The Spanish were Roman Catholics, so their family structure was based on the kind found in the Bible. The Biblical tribes are composed of extended families. What I mean by that is that many generations live in one house: grandparents, aunts, uncles, children, parents.

My homestay family’s household includes: 1 member of the 1st generation, 4 members of the 2nd, and 4 of the 3rd. Add in Nicole and I an we have 11 people under one roof.

The head of the family tends to be the eldest male which is the patriarchal side to things… If you can’t extend onto your house safely? Build a new house next door so your family will remain patrilocal. Many Biblical aspects have been incorporated into Filipino culture over the 300 or so years the Spanish ruled. More examples can be found in courting styles, marriage, and the fact that the center of the house used to be an icon of the Virgin Mary. The Spanish with their colonization of the Philippines, has had a major effect on family life in the Philippines, and it’s legacy continues to this day.

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