Five Places to Return To

– Response to the Daily Post The Wanderer

There is no way I can list the top five places I want to visit because I have no top 5. In my experience, setting a priority list limits the possibilities of surprise, particularly if you have your top five and have already seen photos of them on the internet which will alter your expectations.

So rather than telling you about my top 5 for the future, I am going to tell you about five places I had never thought of visiting until they crossed my path. I made a leap of faith without knowing what to expect from them and they blew me away.

1. The Labyrinth in the Jungle

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This is a park on the outskirt of a town called Xilitla, north of Mexico City. It is a labyrinth built in to a jungle, made up of surrealist sculptures designed by an English artist named Edward James.

2. A City of Colour

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San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico, is my hometown and it takes my breath away every time I go back. The city is full of colour in all senses, on the walls and in the people. Sadly it is also filled with tourists who come to the city to visit the Zapatista and Indigenous communities, which are quickly being exploited. Hopefully eco tourism and conscious tourism will rise quickly before these communities become extinct. Nevertheless, to me it will always be my childhood.

3. Temple of Spirits

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Angkor Wat, Cambodia. I am used to be someone who regarded spiritualism with a great deal of scepticism, but this place changed my life. I am not religious and I never will be, I have walked in to many churches and a couple of mosques and was only ever able to appreciate the architecture. However here, I was able to appreciate something else, something I cannot name because I cannot identify what it was, nor do I want to. But whatever it was, it inspired me.

4. Surreal Berlin

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Ohhh Berlin, you are such a wonderful place. It is here where I learnt to appreciate the beauty of Europe. Berlin is unique.

5. Occupied Rome

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Rome is a beautiful city. Occupied Rome is something else, it is a side of the city that as a mainstream tourist you will probably never see. But what lies behind it is a wonderful mix of life, culture, art, music, food, and politics! Yesss! I love it and will always go back to it!

As I said, I never knew or thought I would experience these places and yet when I did they made me who I am in some way or another. I hope I continue to do it this way, with no expectations, no presumptions, just enjoying what it is, when it is.

No, I don’t want to be who ISIS wants me to be. But yes, I do want to be a part of this conversation.

– Response to The Daily Post – The Outsiders

Outsider 1. Me: I feel helpless. Don’t you?

Outsider 2.You: Why?

O1.Me: Because all around me, people are ‘uniting’ with Paris and its declaration of war, and I ask myself on the outside, what if I don’t want to be a part of that war? What if I chose to opt-out and stay out? What if I chose not to put a french flag on my facebook profile?

What are those of us who actually think war isn’t the best solution supposed to do? Are we supposed to just sit back and let it happen? Could we maybe vote on it? I mean seriously, we have never had a chance to opt-out? At what point did anyone ask ‘who wants to be at war’? It was just assumed. I don’t know how to describe the way that makes me feel.

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I am surprised those who govern haven’t learnt a lesson, a lesson that we (outsiders and insiders) are all being taught because of their (bad?) decisions. Now Rome and London are going to have to live it all over again too. Which just goes to show that violence treated with violence is so obviously not going to work, it never has, it never will. It just has no end. It’s a vicious cycle.

I’m sad about the huge number of people who in their defenceless position are going to be stigmatised and possibly even hurt. Hurt, for how they look or where they come from. And in Europe! A place that has promoted ‘freedom’ and ‘safety’ and ‘opportunity’, acting like a role model that all other regions in the world should follow. I’m doubting its credibility.

The huge influx of refugees running from a place of violence to a place where they hope they will find peace and freedom are going to be met with violence and hostility.

Watching someone being stigmatised has never happened to me, so I cannot know, but I really hope I will not stand by and observe if and as it happens in front of me, I hope that I will react.

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Shouldn’t we be generating a sense of responsibility-for-the-other amongst people? Paris was a devastating event and so was Beirut. Yet I’m sorry to say it this way but they were perfect opportunities to generate a wave of solidarity across the world (all of it), not a wave of, what is now turning out to be, increased stigmatisation and hostility toward many of those who live amongst us, it could even be me. Or you. And I care about you.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks this. There are other outsiders. Others are talking about it too. I want to be a part of the outsider’s conversation. The one that is different. The conversation that wants to try something new, something that hasn’t been done in the past, something that might actually work. Could we please have this conversation?