bye bye middle east

1/09/05

it’s funny, when we first planned out where we were going on this trip, the middle eas was kind of just a tiny sidenote. we were going to quickly zip through a couple of countries in between europe and africa… but somehow, the amount of time we wanted to spend here just expanded and expanded. in the end, we’ve spent over 2 months in this region. it’s been really cool to be here especially seeing as this is an area that’s not really super frequented by toursists. in fact, almost all of the travellers we met while here were people out on long trips that spanned many months and more. other than in egypt, we met very few people who were traveling for less than a month.

over the last two months, i’ve gotten really used to being here, and in a lot of ways, it’s sad to leave. each country that we’ve visited has had so much to offer: turkey, with its intriguing blend of modern western culture w/ old arabic ways, its beautiful landscapes, and its fun loving people; syria, with its incredible ancient ruins, its highly religious people, and its cities hardly touched by tourism; israel, a land in huge contrast to the surrounding countries, one that contains ultra-modern cosmopolitan cities like tel aviv and also ancient cities crammed full of culture, history, and religion like jerusalem… it’s the birthplace of two of the worlds biggest religions, and the 3rd most holy place of a third; jordan, a country that seems still to be unsure whether they want to stay traditional like syria, or forge ahead like turkey… it’s the home of petra, one of the most breathtaking sights around; and last but not least, egypt, home of a 5,000 year old civilization, humongous pyramids, and the nile river.

each of these countries had something really unique and incredible to offer. but, despite their differences, there was definitely some cohesiveness to our time spent here. each place was packed with tea shops offering incredibly sweet tea and coffee and hookas to smoke. each place had incredibly warm and generous people who were quick to offer hospitality to strangers…. people who are so passionate and always either laughing, or yelling, or arguing. each place was made slightly mysterious due to it’s highly religious population… with tunic wearing men, and women w/ hidden faces. each place was filled with the echoing sounds of the call to prayer 5 times a day. each place came complete w/ crazy chaos, wild taxi rides, and (too) persistant merchants. and last.. every place had more kababs and fellafels than we’d every care to know about!

and through it all, despite so many perceptions of the middle east, we felt so safe. safer than back home to be honest. in all of these places, we had no qualms about walking around late at night through towns… something that we wouldnt necessarily do everywhere back home. and for the most part, everyone her had absolutely no problems w/ the fact that we were from america. the last two months has definitely taught us that so many things that we think about the middle east are simply not true, or at the very least grossly overexagerated.

before coming here, i knew sooo little about all these countries. upon leaving, i feel like i still have hardly scratched the surface. there is so much more to this place than can be found out in just 2 months, but i feel like i’ve at least gotten a nice taste. hopefully someday i can go back and see more… who knows?

*v

3 thoughts on “bye bye middle east”

  1. Very nice summary.
    Haven’t you a little bit tired of travelling?
    Just curious.

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