Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The bubble

I stood watching from afar, fascinated by the woman in a long cloak cleaning her Afghan rug with the strong current of a waterfall in beautiful Chefchaouen, Morocco. Never in my life had I seen such a life where someone used a completely natural thing such as a river to wash household items. How small my life is. How little I know, I thought. Just that simple act of cleansing a carpet left me in an existential crisis of sorts.

Those feelings were triggered again the next day when a group of teenage boys hid behind our bus and attached themselves between the wheels in order to cross the sea to get into Spain. A sad weight filled my body. These children want so desperately to leave their country that they'd put themselves at this grave risk. My heart goes out to them, hoping things get better.

I couldn't believe how each lifestyle I saw differed from my own. It made me realize that I live in a tiny little bubble that is the United States, and I've never actually known what it was like to live without a PC or a television. I've never felt the urge to risk my life in order to cross a border.

Though I will never know what types of lives these people lead - with their religious convictions and the small size of their community - I realized how much I've come to know various lifestyles just by traveling. For example, upon hearing that two girls and I had come alone on the trip, one of the group leaders with DiscoverSevilla (my tour group) told us that we were "free spirits" for making a trip solo, even though we were with a tour group. It hit me: No one has ever referred to me as a "free spirit" before.

On the contrary, actually. I've been told I'm too uptight, too serious, too anxious. What happened to that teenager that worried about going to college an hour outside her hometown? Now, I've lived in a completely different country and have made it my second home.

I most certainly demonstrated my new happy-go-lucky attitude in Morocco; I walked into the tour bus without knowing anyone and came out of it with new friends. I left for my trip without knowing a thing about the culture and came out the other side with a small but significant taste of what it means to be in a place where there's a picture of the king in nearly every establishment and the children run free outside, kicking a soccer ball amongst themselves. I started out too embarrassed to bargain because I felt like I was being rude, but I ended up getting the shop owners to lower their starting price by 15 euros (not exactly a world-record, but it's a start!). Though the changes may not have been drastic, I've come out of this excursion different than when I signed up.

Although I live in a tiny little bubble in my life, I'm slowly expanding that bubble with each of my travels. Each new experience I have and every person I meet contribute to the expansion of this small world I've built for myself. Until next time, Africa.

1 comment: