BY: BROOKLYN PINHEIRO
The fireworks came to an end and the eight of us turned away from the Promenade. It was Bastille Day and since we were traveling in France we anticipated a night full of celebrations. That is not what we got.
The first sign that something bad was happening was a few dozen people running past us as we stood in shock. The energy of the night immediately changed, we knew we needed to get back to the hostel, though we didn’t know why. We picked up the pace as the environment around us grew more chaotic, confusion radiated through the crowd.
It became increasingly clear that something serious was happening. We heard shots and my friend and I sprinted, in no particular direction, before the rest of our group grabbed us and we walked quickly back to our hostel.
Once there, we sat in front of the news and learned what had happened in Nice, ten minutes outside of our room. One thought hit me instantly, I need to tell my mom that I’m okay.
In the days that followed, friends and family told me to end my trip early, or at least skip the rest of France. When I declined to do so they told me I couldn’t possibly understand the gravity of the situation since I wasn’t watching everything on the news. While that was true, I was there, and the aftermath that I saw didn’t make me want to hide in my bed afraid of the world.
According to the annual Vacation Confidence Index, 86 per cent of Americans are concerned about attacks occurring while traveling and 22 per cent have made changes to their traveling plans ranging from cancelling to purchasing more insurance. When the only stories being shown following an event are negative, fear for one’s safety makes sense.
Or fear for loved ones. It’s not that what my family was being shown back home was untrue; something horrible had happened and people were devastated. But as I headed out of the city the next day as scheduled, what stuck out to me wasn’t an overwhelming air of despair, but couples drinking coffee on patios and families spending their day at the beach. Back home people assumed that everyone I spoke to would be paralyzed in sadness and fear and that every interaction from then on out would be guided by that response. But the resilience of people’s spirits that I witnessed shone brighter than anything else and the trip carried on as before.
France, the world’s most popular travel destination, was still recovering from the Paris attacks in November when in July the following year 84 people were killed in Nice. By the end of the month flights to France from America had dropped 19 per cent compared to the previous year. The good news is that while places that suffered an attack had lower tourism, travel to Europe in general rose 10 per cent during summer 2016. Though they might be rerouted people are not being stopped from travelling due to fear, and they shouldn’t be.
It was at my dad’s birthday shortly after coming home from my trip where he introduced me to his friends as “Brooklyn, my youngest. She was in Nice.” An introduction more befitting of my travels could have been, “Brooklyn, my youngest. She cliff jumped into the Mediterranean,” or “Brooklyn, my youngest. She was welcomed into a French family’s home for dinner.” Because those are the things that happened in France that stuck with me; the things that I want people to know about.