January 26, 2020

Out of Africa

Standing amid stones…

Well, we took the leap late last week, and jumped north into the (currently) United Kingdom. The post-Brexit jump for the U.S. dollar, and the accompanying fall of the price of rental cars and airline tickets fueled this decision, along with a desire to escape the August summer heat in Morocco.

It’s amazing how disparately different cultures can exist, just a short flight away. Heck, we saw the same transition, just a dozen miles across the Strait of Gibraltar. Entry into a new culture precipitates the usual drill of learning a new currency, swapping sim chips in our smartphones to get them to work once again, etc. For extra fun, we needed to (very quickly) relearn how to drive on the left side of the road again… with a stick shift transmission. We’re happy to report that all went pretty well, and we only stalled and hit the curb a few times.

All first world traveler’s problems, I know. We’re working and living long term on the road, a different sort of micro-culture enmeshed in the bigger problems of the world. Folks in England are still deeply divided about the Brexit decision to leave the European Union, and word in the pub is that many a young Brit now has no easy road towards a bright future. In Morocco, we were confronted with crippling poverty on the streets on an almost daily basis, with people foraging and eating out of dumpsters, and tent shanty towns pitched between new high rise apartments.

These are complex social issues, for sure, but the class disparity that exists gets to the heart of so much of what’s wrong with the world today. Many of the good people we met in Morocco will never see their name on an airline ticket, and work to earn in a month what we easily spend in a day. And though we function on the road long term with what’s considered a lower middle-class income in the States, we’re safely in the ‘one percent‘ worldwide.

Does the bottom really have to be so far down? Sure, hard work might have gotten you where you are today… but that also means that you live in a country and culture that gives you an opportunity to achieve it. If everyone had access to a minimum standard of healthcare, education and security, we might see a radically different world. Perhaps, the words of extremists would then fall on deaf ears, as people would see a better path versus simply throwing their lives away for an ideological cause.

It’s not as simple as this, for sure. But I do see some hope. Think about it; we haven’t had a massive World War for well over a half a century now, and avoided a large scale nuclear catastrophe. Borders that used to be closed to independent travelers such as Eastern Europe and countries in southern Asia are now open, and the number of sealed off states live North Korea have diminished dramatically. Where tourist dollars cross borders, armies won’t.

These are all good reasons to give us hope that, despite the daily news, things are getting better over the long haul of history. Perhaps, a future might exist in our lifetimes where everyone will have the means at their personal disposal to globe-trot if they wish.


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