08.01.2011 26 °C
On the way home after a month, it's hard to reflect on all of our experiences and not get influenced by 'the recency effect' due to the sheer volume of unforgettable sights and unique moments. We knew that this would be a great trip and it has met all of our expectations with a few (in fact many) surprises along the way.
The first thing that comes to mind is a rich and layered past that seems to cover every volume of human history. We've walked in the footprints of so many peoples and empires and have been humbled by the opportunity to explore what they have left behind. The Egyptian Pharaohs, Alexander the Great, a sequence of Roman Caesars, the Byzantine Empire, then the armies of Islam, the Crusaders and more recently English, French, Arab and Jewish influences. All have left their mark on our travels.
While you can't escape religion as an omnipresent and central theme, there are far more commonalities among the people of the middle east than differences. Family values, faith and hospitality are core mixed with an underlying unease about the current geopolitical landscape. Like elsewhere, issues seem complex but the average person on the street has the same goal where ever you go - stability, security and peace. Also like elsewhere, the barrier seems to be a small number of extremists who are working against the needs of their own people, their own national interests and against progress for the region as a whole.
Enough soap box - highlights of this amazing trip gave been skiing in Lebanon, the souk in Aleppo, getting engaged in romantic Damascus, outstanding Roman and Egyptian ruins, sailing the Nile, camping with a Bedoin tribe, the raw energy of Jerusalem, Christ's birthplace on his birthday, Shabbat dinner, and the food everywhere.
Thank you so much to all the kind people who have helped us along the way with your generosity, friendship and local knowledge. Also a big thanks for the messages, it was great to stay in touch over the festive season. We can't wait to catch up next week.
CP & Lee