My heart breaks for all the refugees and other immigrants who are looking for sanctuary or just a chance to create a better life for themselves and their families….I am one of the privileged ones who was born in the right place, at the right time and lucky enough to travel freely, seeing the world first hand.
However, change is coming for the advantaged traveler. Brexit may very well increase time spent in customs and immigration control in addition to economic possibilities from increased fares to possible additional roaming charges. And now the EU is considering a need for visas for US citizens traveling to Europe.
The “travel ban” issued by the USA, currently blocked but still promised, is scary on many levels. Will it increase terrorism? Will it break up families? Will it renege on promises to reward those who have helped us in the past? Do we not all have responsibility to help those who are seeking asylum? escape a war?
Becoming non-judgemental is a process, particularly for those of us who are fortunate enough to live in a country that offers us so many freedoms. Travel has given me an opportunity to learn to accept differences and understand that there are alternatives to doing everything “our way”. For instance, I have a fellow traveler who didn’t grasp why the mountains above 6000 meters were closed to mountaineering in Bhutan. He suggested that they could make so much more money by opening up those peaks. My guide smiled and said, no, they were more interested in protecting the mountains for both their culture and for future generations.
Many of my friends and family could not understand why I wanted to visit Iran this month. Other than it being one of the first civilized cultures with a rich history of art, literature, food, gardens and architecture their hospitality is well renowned.
However, my trip with stops in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan has been cancelled. Their government declined to issue me a visa in “retaliation” for our government’s actions. My biggest regret is how a mutual understanding between our cultures will affect all of us.