"Remove the tourism, what is real?"
You stuck this question right in the middle of the post and it made my head spin a bit.
If you could remove the tourism from well established tourist destinations, many of the locals may be very confused for a time as to what to do with themselves. I doubt they could ever really return to "real" once tainted with the "visitors".
The more tourism, the less real. I think "real" is prior to any tourism. I could be wrong.
Thus, the only real places are where tourism has never existed. I think most travelers thirst for what is real.
With tourism you get unreal, remove tourism and you'd still get unreal. I think this is partly why Africa calls you, and you continue to mention it in your travel plans. You said once if I remember correctly that there is no map for Africa.
Where is it that nobody goes and isn't a life threatening location?
See the world? All of it? With 148 million square kilometers of land, even taking 40 years would mean you'd have to cover over 10,000 square kilometers each day. thats an area similar to the size of Jamaica or Lebanon. No chance. We must choose our "real" wisely.
You are correct, real is before tourism.
However, real is real, cultures change, however if you want to say you understand or know a culture best to leave all tourism behind.
A man said the other day,
"I know Mexico, I have been to Cancun four times."
Just too naive for words.
What is colloquial "Unreal" if you really want the reality different than your reality, you need to step outside the tourist box.
Fun stuff, and true, choose wisely where you want to go and obey the Prime Directive of Travel.