Why write a travel memoir?

I never intended to write a travel memoir. This is what happened: I was bored with my job and desperate for a change. I decided, on a whim, that I needed to go somewhere ‘exotic’ to have a great adventure. I went to a travel expo and before I knew it, I had booked and paid for a trip to Israel and Jordan. My friends thought I was insane considering the constant unflattering headlines on the news about the Middle East.

I came back to my job and my life but I couldn’t stop thinking about my trip. It’s not like I had something spectacular happen like meeting a Prince from the exotic Middle East and getting whisked away to live happily ever after in a palace. I did what every other tourist who books a tour to Israel and Jordan does. I got on and off a bus numerous times, I took many photos, got blisters on my feet from walking too much in non-walk wear appropriate shoes (the perils of vanity…) but for some reason I kept thinking about my trip. Well, to be more specific, I kept thinking about the people I met during my trip.

I had booked a holiday but what I ended up with was an eye opening experience.

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.

I believe it is crucial to record experiences of ordinary people in societies 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 for the ordinary people who have to live with the decisions their governments and politicians make?

I was not interested in commenting on the political situation of Israel/Palestine. What I wanted to know was, how do the ordinary people live? 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. The reality is, there is both good and bad in our world so 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…

The greatest lesson I learned from my trip? Humans are essentially the same, no matter where they may be in the world.

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