What My Trip to the Middle East Taught Me About Life - My Family Travels

I dreaded the sixteen hour plane ride and when it was over I was actually happy, which I never thought I would be on this vacation. The man at the desk asks me something and I can’t understand him, so I look to my father, and he says to give the man my passport. He looks at it, looks at me and says nice name.

Oh he was a funny one, I had never heard that one before, Jordan’s going to Jordan! After the comedian at the desk checks the rest of us in we go to meet the ‘family’, a bunch of people on the other side of the gate I had never seen before with the exception of my Aunt Wafa who visited the states regularly. After hugs, kisses, and awkward hellos to cousins I had never met before we piled into a van to my aunt’s house where we were going to spend the next month. My family was tired from the long trip and we soon found our bedrooms and went to sleep.

I don’t like the Arabian culture and was not looking forward to any part of this vacation. The next morning my aunt could sense my disappointment, so she did what any woman would do, offered to take me shopping. Then I asked where all the good shops were in Jordan and she explained that there were some in Jordan but we had all month to check those out.

The really great shops were in a itsy-bitsy country called Lebanon. I convinced the rest of the family into an impromptu visit to Lebanon, and off we were. Our first few days were filled with tours and shopping.

The third morning I awoke to knocks at our hotel room door, it was my dad and he looked serious. He told us to pack our bags because Israel had just bombed the airport. I was so confused but he seemed like he was rushed so I didn’t ask any questions.

I turned on the news to CNN and watched the bombs dropping on places I had been the previous day. The whole situation was so random, how could there be a war all of the sudden? I frantically packed and tried explaining all of this to my younger sisters. My mom advised my sisters and I to eat because she didn’t know when the next time we could eat would be.

My dad called the U.S. Embassy and I was sure they would know what to do, I was wrong. The man on the other end of the line only told us to “Get out of Dodge.”

With the airport in flames, I didn’t know what we were going to do. Out of shear luck my aunt overheard someone talking about a bus going across the border into Syria, and then into Jordan. We jumped on that tour bus this is where the real journey began.

Down the road I could see a huge cloud of dust and my dad tried to convince me it was a dust storm, I knew better. We turned on the television on the bus and watched the news. The hotel we just left thirty minutes ago was hit by a bomb, a convenience store we stopped at was hit by a bomb. The border was absolute anarchy and took four hours to cross. A short while later the news anchor reported that the border we just crossed had been bombed. As I heard this I overheard a woman talking to my mom, she said we might have trouble getting visas into Syria because they ‘hate’ Americans. The first thing that popped into my head was “Well we don’t like them either.” Then I thought that attitude is the reason why we are stuck in a war. Hate spawns violence and it’s a senseless cycle. I shared that bus with people so different from myself and when we were sitting there in danger’s way it didn’t matter what group you believed in. The bombs didn’t know who we were, the Israeli soldiers who sent the bombs didn’t know the families they killed. Every time I look back on that vacation I dreaded taking, I think about the things it taught me. Hating a culture that I had a limited view on made me just as intolerant and hateful as the murderers on both sides of the war the my very own family escaped from.

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