08 December 2009
From Europe To The Middle East In Just Two Hours
It’s an oddly simple equation: Depart Athens, Greece at 10am. Arrive Cairo, Egypt at 12pm. Two hours and just like that I’m whisked away from Western Europe and the Mediterranean to the epicenter of the near Middle East. Granted, it’s still traveling from chaos to chaos in many ways but seemingly everything - everything - is different. The weather, the air quality, the buildings, the roads, the people, the bargaining and yet, due to modern technology and the pioneering efforts of the Wright Brothers I can - in a matter of hours - traverse the globe and “plop” into another civilization that - for thousands of years - had no idea the civilization I just came from even existed.
I find this to be one of the most fascinating parts of travel: this idea that things “changed so fast” when it reality, they really didn’t. What’s more, that feeling of “everything is different” really only goes skin deep. Yes, the architecture is different, the clothes are different, foods are different and religions are different. Underneath. however, it’s just bricks, cotton, beans and faith.
If all this traveling has taught me anything, it’s that we are socialized from a very young age to constantly seek out, look for and identify what makes us different than everyone else. How are we unique? How are we special? Often times, how are we better? Yet if you peel away the surface, almost nothing about us is - in real terms - is any different than anyone else. Instead, it’s the way we have interpreted the same things thats different.
We eat white bread, they eat pita bread. We leave the bricks red, they paint them white. We where cotton t-shirts, they where cotton robes. We have faith in “God,” they have faith in “Allah” (which means “God” in arabic). At the end of the day, we’re all just human beings trying to get through life with enough food, a place to call home and a reason to live. Maybe it’s time we start looking at the underlying truths about life that make it the same. Believe it or not, it’s almost everything. Just hop a plane, dart over an ocean and see for yourself.