Last weekend Wayne and I went to Khan El Khalili, the famous bazaar in central Cairo. If you haven’t heard of it, imagine a large flee market made up of little shops that line the narrow, maze-like alleys between old buildings from another era. It’s really something.We went with friends of ours and their 9 year old daughter, Jess. Because we went fairly early in the day, many shops were still closed and the bazaar was fairly quiet. Sometimes we would walk a small alley and there would be nothing open. As you walk down these alleys, it feels almost eerie.
At one point we saw an archway and beyond it was really dark. It almost looked like a tunnel. It didn’t look like there was anything there. Someone casually suggested we go inside. Jess immediately jumped on the suggestion, and so we went. The sun was now completely blocked and we came across several sets of stairs. It was like walking in a cave.
A voice inside me said “Well, this was fun. We should go back now”. Jess looked up at a flight of stairs that split into two opposite directions. She looked right, then left and said “This way looks scarier! Let’s go this way!”In light of the recent attacks in Turkey and Brussels, that phrase has really struck me.
A lot of people are afraid. Including me. Both cities I went to on my honeymoon just last summer have both been hit by ISIS, and the coastal town whose airport made headlines when a plane bound for Russia fell from the sky, is where we are going for Spring Break next week.In between these attacks, the fear dissipates and I book another trip, but the attacks are becoming more frequent, and there is no sign of them slowing down. I’m not going to lie, I’m getting paranoid thoughts that make me feel paralyzed with fear. What if something happens? I even find myself worrying more about next year when my family plans to come for a visit. What if something happens?
But I want to be more like Jess. I don’t want fear to hold me back, Jess wasn’t letting fear hold her back from what ended up being a really fun time of exploring never-ending narrow stairs in a cave-like environment. I think many kids would have looked at those creepy stairs and turned back, but I realized: adventure can’t take place where there is fear. Life, real life, cannot take place where there is fear.
The world is hurting, and bad things happen every single day. It is so easy for the media to make travellers and tourists think twice about going somewhere, especially in Europe and the Middle East right now. I see the affect it has had on Egypt alone, a country who is suffering from the loss of tourism in a way that affects everyone in the nation. Especially in resort and beach towns, which are slowly becoming ghost towns.
So when I start to doubt whether I want to pursue my passion of travelling any longer, I think of Jess and her sense of adventure, and I think of those whose livelihood is at stake, and I think of those who have been impacted by the terror attacks. I will not let fear, worry or anxiety stop me from experiencing all the beautiful and wonderful things the world has to offer, and I strongly urge others to do the same.
There is still a lot of good in the world, and we can’t allow the media and news station to filter them out of our perception and make us forget that. There are kind people, amazing chefs, helpful strangers, talented artists, friendly guides, hard-working bakers, adorable children, shy beauties, and boisterous vendors, all who mean no harm, and who can add just one more memorable moment to your life.
Don’t let fear stop you from living and experiencing something incredible. Instead, be a light in the world. A light of encouragement, kindness and bravery. The way may look dark and scary, but just going down that path is part of the adventure. Memorable moments are made this way, moments that you take away with you in your heart and lasts much longer than a postcard or magnet ever could.
If you have travelled before, you know what moments I’m talking about. The kinds that take your breath away, that open your eyes, that touch your soul. This is why travellers keep travelling, and why, even in the face of fear, you shouldn’t stop.