Why write about travel experiences?

When I wrote my book ‘Not A Typical Tourist in Israel and Jordan’, I briefly and  halfheartedly attempted to submit my manuscript to publishing houses. Deep down I always knew I would take the road of an independent self published author. It appealed to me more than a publishing contract because I felt I could be freer and more honest in my writing. I didn’t want to edit my book so it would become more commercially appealing.

I never intended to write a travel memoir. I have actually only ever read one travel memoir and that was after I published my own. I felt I had to write it. I was compelled to write about what I had seen and experienced because I wanted to capture the moment, like in a photograph, of what the societies of Israel and Jordan were like in 2012.

My view is no doubt influenced by my anthropology studies and training but I believe it is crucial to record experiences of ordinary people in societies. I believe it is crucial because history is often written by the victors or elite members of society, or simply recorded as facts such as ‘ this many people died during World War II…’. But what does that actually mean? More importantly, what does it mean for the ordinary people who have to live with the decisions their governments and politicians make?

I’m not at all interested in the opinions or experiences of the elite or politicians. When I traveled through Israel and Jordan, I was not interested in commenting on the political situation of Israel/Palestine. What I cared about and wanted to know was, how do the ordinary people live? What are their daily lives like? How do they interact with the millions of tourists that pass through their cities each year? How do they interact with each other?

Sometimes I wonder what future generations will think of us. If they look through our news reports and history books most of what they will read is reports of civil and international wars, terrorism, thousands of people forced from their homes and displaced either by natural disasters or man made catastrophes, the extinction of animal species…Despite all this, it would not be an accurate portrayal of our world. This is why I wanted to capture the society of Israel and Jordan exactly as it was experienced by ordinary people in 2012, both the good and the bad.  The reality is, there is both good and bad in our world. It is not all good and it is not all bad. So, to be accurate and to give future generations a more complete picture we must depict both.

For that reason, I included both the good things and bad things I experienced during my trip; the kindness shown to me by some strangers and the not so helpful ones who were a bit mean or who tried to cheat me…

Hopefully my book will show future generations in an amusing and entertaining way, that our society had both good and bad in it.


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