"I Have a Right to a Life Without Violence"
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas
Right after President Obama informed the world of Osama bin Laden’s death with the words, “his death does not mark the end of our effort...We must & we will – remain vigilant at home and abroad,” the U.S. State Department issued an alert to its citizens to take precautions and report to U.S. embassies, if currently abroad.

One of the reasons I held back from traveling in Mexico and Central America for so many years, other than money was FEAR. Every time I turned on the news, Mexico and Central America was depicted as one big scary place, where respect was non-existent and people killed each other at a glance, like in those films in the Wild West.

As a woman, I thought I would be even more vulnerable traveling alone and even imagined the worst. Before I started my journey, I cried many times over this FEAR. Yes, I was terrified of traveling alone, yet as hard as I tried I was unable to turn the travel bug off. Instead, I turned to travel blogs to comfort me and fortunately, as I read other’s experiences, they gave me the courage I needed to finally begin my journey around Mexico and Central America, alone.

Thousands of Women, Men & Children Massacred
by U.S. trained military forces in the 80s
El Mozote Memorial, El Salvador
Today I resent the media for cultivating that FEAR of the unknown, which prevented me from traveling for so long. Unfortunately, this is the same FEAR that today prevents many others in the U.S. from traveling period.

Instead of criminals, I have encountered generous people. Despite losing friends and relatives as part of the thousands who were killed in the various wars, a result of the many U.S. “interventions” in Central America during the 60s up until the 90s, they were ready to forgive and lend a U.S. citizen like me a helping hand.

After traveling alone all over Mexico and Central America for 10 months, FEAR was completely eradicated and replaced by FRIENDLINESS.

Last night, when after hearing about Osama bin Laden’s death, FEAR reared its ugly head again.

El Perquin, El Salvador
Don’t get me wrong, I do feel the world is a better place without Osama, yet I began to FEAR that our government’s recent “victory” will ignite more hate towards U.S. citizens from extremists in the Middle East AGAIN.

As thousands celebrated his death in New York, I couldn’t stop thinking of the repercussions his death could have on average U.S. citizens like me who are now traveling or plan to travel in the Middle East.

While I read the reactions in the media from Taliban commanders who say Osama’s death “makes us stronger and more determined” I felt chills down my spine. The Guardian’s Ghaith Abdul Ahad, expressed best what was on my mind, “they have just acquired a martyr and that has much more symbolism than acquiring a bunch of rockets.”

U.S. Armed Contra Forces in Nicaragua Revolution
Leon, Nicaragua
I realize I grew up in a country where every day we are taught to FEAR strangers, FEAR our neighbors, FEAR losing our jobs, FEAR being alone, FEAR traveling the world.

This realization sparks hope that there will be no serious consequences or repercussions to those of us who want to travel in the Middle East in the near future.

I know that despite this FEAR, many of us will just pack it really tight in our backpacks along our rolled up clothes and travel in the Middle East anyway.

That is exactly what I did before I started traveling in Mexico and Central America. I just promised myself, if I felt unsafe at any point during my trip I would go back home. Almost a year has gone by and I have never (knock, knock) felt unsafe. Today, I would not take back one minute of my travel adventures in the past 11 months. =)

"A World is Possible Where Many Worlds Can Fit
San Juan Chamula, Chiapas
I find comfort in knowing traveling has changed my view of Mexico and Central America for the better. Those ugly images generated by the news, have been replaced by smiles, friendly faces, generous hearts and beautiful landscapes.

I hope that just as the violence in Mexico and Central America was exaggerated on the news, so are the potential threats against U.S. citizens traveling in the Middle East.

I have hope that my travels can change FEAR into FRIENDLINESS this time too. =)


Jaime said... [Reply to comment]

Great post, I know exactly how you feel right now because I had those same feelings when I too off to travel Central America. Aside from being held at gunpoint one time I know it is still safe to travel Central America and that fear I had has been turning into friendliness as well. I know I plan on traveling through the Middle East soon & oh man do I have my fears but I too have been turning to blogs of people traveling through the Middle East right now & have read nothing but good things. I know what the news puts out is only the bad stuff and when they do they make it sound 10x's worse. For now I do not plan on altering my plans but I tell myself the same as you "the moment I feel unsafe I will come home or hell just fly somewhere else".

P.S. I miss you ;)~

Superxicana said... [Reply to comment]

@Jaime I'm glad we both put our fears aside and took a chance on El Salvador and loved it!! hahaha =) I'm sure you'll have a great time in the Middle East too ;)

I was soo lucky to meet you and travel with you...YOU ARE AWESOME!! Miss you too and I'm sure we'll see each other en alguna parte del mundo muy pronto!

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