Some kind of way

I consider myself an adventurous and open-minded person. My travels have taken me from Bolivia to Honduras and from Spain to Wales. I lived in Costa Rica for six months and spent a month-and-a-half volunteering at a nonprofit in Guatemala.

While there were times during these experiences that I thought "what the fuck am I thinking" (like when I found myself with no money, sleeping on a fruit barge floating through Lake Nicaragua, or when I was forced to find my way through a random, dusty town in Peru after protesters blocked the streets and threw rocks at my bus). But, I never had any real worries about my decisions.

This time it's different. I am leaving on Monday for a four-week trip to Israel and Jordan. I realized just how different this experience is going to be when I looked at photos from the Ammarin Bedouin Camp near Petra, Jordan that I plan to spend four nights at. Something about seeing the men, dressed in full Muslim-style, desert regalia, sitting on colorful mats under a tent in the middle of the desert made me feel some kind of way--maybe a pang of fear?

Whatever I felt made me come face-to-face with the fact that despite my open mind and free spirit, I am not above fearing people who are different than me and places that are unfamiliar.

When I traveled around Latin America, I had just spent six months living in Costa Rica, where I had been once before. I spoke fluent Spanish and had Hispanic friends.

I now realize how little I know about Muslim people. I have a friend in Philly who studies the Qur'an, and I have a couple of Muslim co-workers, but other than that I have no experience with people of this faith. I am not afraid of Muslims like so many people in the U.S. seem to be. What I am afraid of is my own ignorance. The fact that I felt any kind of hesitation about my upcoming trip made me feel horrible. My biggest fear is to become a brain-washed, over-consuming, intolerant "typical American."

It takes active work to keep an open mind and a free spirit. I vow that my exploration and desire to understand more about Islamic culture will not end when I return home at the end of March.


  1. I'm a little scared for you, but I am also very envious that you get to have this experience.

    I think the fact that you know you are a bit green about the customs will take you very far. It's the boisterous assholes that get themselves in trouble.

  2. Wow. I have to say and not that it is very original, I am scared for you too. And way EXCITED. This will most likely be eye-opening, mind expanding trip of a lifetime. I hope you blog about it while you are there.

  3. While I probably won't have time to type up blog posts during my trip, I do plan to keep a hand-written (dear God, does anyone still do that?!?) journal. I will definitely post some of those entries when I get home. Also, I am setting up a Flickr account before I go. I hope to upload photos to that account at least twice during the trip. I will post the link here.