It’s a bit hard to write this latest post for various reasons. I guess first off since it’s been about a month and a half since my last one, when I was in Morocco. But the other big reason is because so much has happened since I last wrote, it’s hard to know where to pick up and what to share of all that has transpired since my last writing. So I will do what seems the easiest and that is to pick up where I left off, in Tangier, Morocco and having found my grandfather’s grave.
I spent only four days in Tangier. I traveled there alone, not certain of what would come of it. Let me begin by saying this, I am so grateful that my grandparents had the foresight to leave Tangier when they did, in 1914 when the Panama Canal was completed, to live in Panama…
I would not leave my hotel at night while in Tangier. The looks I would get in the daytime from the people on the street were enough. I was always dressed very modestly. Maybe this image might help to sum it up for you folks, in the afternoon, when everyone would be out for their afternoon tea, as you walk down the main street, at every sidewalk cafe all that would be sitting at the outside tables would be men. Period. On my third day I finally decided to heck with it, I went to the famous, “Cafe de Paris”, sat down inside and had my first mint tea….with all the men in the room, and only one couple in the entire place. Does this begin to explain what the time in Tangier was like? =)
I had some fun too, as in my first camel ride. Another followed in Egypt at the Pyramids…
Let me just say again…four days alone in Morocco was enough….
The positive side was finding my grandfather’s and great grandfather’s graves. I believe I am the first person in our families to have been to their graves since the day they were buried. What I wasn’t prepared for were the emotions that overcame me when I finally stood before my grandfather’s grave.
At this point, I wish to record some of the thoughts I wrote down in my journal. Because to be honest, it best says what I feel I want to say at this point, instead of trying to describe all the experiences in each country I was just in. Each country was unique, different, each very special.
I think my last journal entry says it best and hopefully can bring you all up to speed with where I am at, at this point in my travels–so here are some very honest, unedited, insights.
June 24th/Old Jaffa Hostel
I’ve been trying to gain an understanding of the history of everything I’ve experienced.
Assimilating it, trying to put it in perspective, with my own family’s and ancestors history. Looking at it all with eyes wide open, trying to understand the people and their cultures, and how it all translates into their daily lives. It’s such an amazing experience for me on so many levels. As I was sharing with a girl, I met at the hostel last night….
You see it on the news, or read about it in a magazine article, but you really don’t get it until you see it and live it a little. In reality you are only scratching the surface….it’s so complex, the layers of history, wars, corruption, and struggles these people have been subjected to–I can only barely begin to understand what their lives are like.
The beautiful part of this history lesson I am living though is this. I have been able to connect family to each other. I have been able to connect for myself, a sense of understanding at last of the fabric of life, generations laid out before the following generations. To enable future generations to have better lives. To those of us who chose to take from what was laid out before them. The paths were not easy for any generation to continue down. But what I have learned is this–
My great grandparents
My ancestors back to before the Spanish Inquisition
They each had a choice to make, a path to choose. Including my mother who chose the most difficult one; for love.
The path was not an easy one for any of them. They experienced isolation, loneliness, Probably at times extreme doubt, if their decision was the right one. But now today, I look around, very grateful.
For their strength
Their commitment to their hearts and their beliefs. Thank you.