In a New York Times interview, the author, Annie Proulx, observed that after a woman turns 55 she becomes invisible. She gave as an example sitting in a cafe in Nova Scotia next to a couple who were plotting a murder.
Wherever I am in Windhoek – cafes, restaurants, taxi stands, buying a bottle of water from a street vendor, not only am I not invisible, I draw a small crowd. Americans in Namibia are rare. The white non indigenous residents are English, German, and Dutch stock. Why are you coming to Namibia? people ask. I reply that 25 years ago I read about the elephants of the Namib desert and vowed to see them up close and personal one day. Beaming smiles in response. Everyone is clearly flattered that an American wants to see their country. But how do they know I am an American? As an American white person why do I look so different from the European white people? Even if I am not speaking? After all, my forebearers were of English and German origin. My server at dinner last night said in response to my question of why did he know I am American said only, “You look like the white people in American movies.”
Being a traveler stirs my sense of gratitude that it is my good fortune to have been born in America.