As photographers we often say we travel to create incredible images. In reality, though, I think we travel to learn.
I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a photo tour to Andalusia and Barcelona Spain this past October. We arrived in the country right as Barcelona was scheduled to have a vote to secede from Spain. The vote took place and the majority of people who went to the polls voted to leave. (I’ve selected my words carefully because this was a very complicated election.)
When my group arrived in Barcelona days later the voting was over but the politics remained. People in Barcelona showed their side in the debate by hanging a flag from their balcony. Flags for Spain, secession, or Catalonia seemed to be everywhere. Neighbors were divided and we could see the division by the flags hanging from apartment balconies and across narrow street.
Yet, as we walked the streets of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona we got a glimpse of Spanish history.
I saw those 80-year old bullet holes and it reminded me that ideological divisions between neighbors can eventually lead to armed conflict. Our guide told us that the bullet holes have been left in this church as a reminder to what happens when neighbor goes against neighbor.
I was reminded once again that we travel to learn — not just to take photos.