When you travel to a distant place (not only physically) from the reality of everyday life, the tendency is to happen an initial astonishment. In my case, this “shock” is usually accompanied by a greater improvement of the senses, and here I am not referring only to the “sixth sense” … I look more focused; the hearing gets more concentrated to the sounds or to the silence; the smell gets absolutely intensified … I live the present, as if I didn’t remember of the past or even about the expectations and anxieties of the future.
These sensory connections allow me to live the here and now, in a state of attention. I feel alive and complete, as I often forget to exercise when I am in my “natural habitat.” This is then, for me, one of the great benefits of moving toward new experiences.
I will never forget my first days in Jerusalem. I felt absolutely “lost” and this had nothing to do with not knowing where I was. No. I felt absorbed in a new reality. A reality in which religion utterly dictates people’s lives. I even felt a bit “unfaithful.” For a Christian Catholic woman who grow up her faith in the midst of a parish community, experiencing Jerusalem in the first two days, was at least a reason for a lot of meditation.
I also hope to never forget the surprise I had when I realized that, yes, it is possible to live in the midst of rivers in the Amazon. The boat shuttle to come and go everywhere. The trade with scarce items kept on “palafitas” (houses above the water). Children who can’t go to school in the heavy flood season. The life that is maintained through the nutrients offered by the forest itself and rivers. The fact that, in the XXI century, a family doesn’t have television at home and only know the outside world through the news heard on a radio stack. This was all shocking to see with my own eyes.
The stay in Jordan was short but lasting enough to realize the lack of presence of women in day-to-day tourist activities, such as the maintenance of a Bedouin camp where we spent the night in Petra. The men served the meals; they were also the responsible for entertaining the tourists with their singing and clapping of synchronized palms. I didn’t see any woman in the place. I’m not sure if this is due to the fact that in Jordan 90% of the population is Muslim, according to Wikipedia, but seeing a reality so different from the one I live in my country was a true expansion of consciousness.
Last but not least, I remember Cuba. Anyone who goes to Havana and is not impressed, definitely didn’t experience the reality of the place. In Havana, there is almost no advertising. The only ones that exist make reference to the socialism and the figures of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. I didn’t even see the picture of the brother Raul. I don’t believe that the “regime” still works in its entirety, but by official propaganda, it is in full execution. I don’t think I have ever seen a people so similar to the Brazilians as the Cuban. And I’m not just talking about the physical characteristics … they’re rhythmic, they love to dance, and they share an admirable positivity. I wish I had taken candies to distribute to the children. These items are absolutely rare there.