Getting over the fear of heading to my first Muslim country

After the red-eye flight, we had a layover in Austria. I have been to this country before on my trip throughout Europe. Didn’t really bothered to explore this country then, nor at this time. Sorry, Austria maybe next time.

Taken by Hugo morel

It was officially the 12th and no longer the 11th. So the fear was somewhat gone. However, this will be the first time I will be in a majority Muslim country. I didn’t know what to expect. With all the Media surrounding the middle East, I expected to be attacked or killed for being from a western country. I knew if I want to travel the world, that I would eventually have to go to more Islamic countries. But still, I was extremely nervous!

Taken by Hugo Morel

There I was sitting, thinking about how I should had told my family or someone where I was going. I was having a mental breakdown. I know this seem overdramatic; however, it’s hard not to think this way with the American Media constantly brainwashing us. Fighting this fear and way of thinking was something I wanted to overcome. I know most Muslims are peaceful and good people. Yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about the images News stations keep hammering on us about this part of the world.

Taken by Hugo Morel

It was too late now to turn back, I had no choice but to go. I did a little research on Islam while waiting to board. Learned that Islam actually believes in Jesus and Mary. Also, the Virgin birth of Jesus. To my shook, Jesus is actually one of the most mentioned figures in the Quran and it’s not negative. Learning all this, maybe my trip will help me build a common ground on our differences. This made me get over my fear and was excited to finally board that plane heading to Egypt.

Taken by Hugo Morel

I actually had the whole row to myself! Flying over Egypt was breathtaking. The landscape change was out of this world. It felt like I was flying over Mars. The sand was nothing like I have seen before. Growing up in California, there were deserts but they were small compared to this.

Flying over Cairo, Egypt… Brought to you by google

After the flight, I landed in Egypt. Started to walk to get my passport stamped. The smell of the airport was very different. It smelled like the spices of the middle East and wet armpits. It was a strange smell. A smell that I will eventually get used to throughout my future travels in the Middle East.

Inside of Cairo international airport… brought to you by google

Got to the immigration line, I needed 25 dollars to get a visa. Looked around and saw an ATM. Found out shortly, that the ATM was out of service. Went to the immigration officer and told him about what happened. Also, let him know that I don’t have enough cash on me. He told me that he will get his supervisor. I waited until an overweight man came. He was the head supervisor of immigration. The overweight man told me that I would have to leave my passport and suitcase with him; while, I got money from the ATM that’s passed the immigration point. In other words, I will be walking into Egypt without an identity nor a nation. At this point, I had no choice but to trust this stranger.

After leaving everything I had with this stranger, I started walking towards the main lobby of the airport. I was able to find an ATM. Soon, I found out this ATM was also out of service. And there I was, with no passport in a foreign country that I didn’t speak the language and nobody back home knew where I was….

Thank you for taking your time and reading this post! Much love and safe travels!

I flew to the middle East on 9/11!?!

Yes, I know this wasn’t my most brightest idea. Can you really blame me though? We all have fallen in love and done questionable actions. This most certainly was one of them.

Word trade center taken by Hugo Morel

Before you think I joined the nation of Islam, let’s backtrack a few months. I was dating my girlfriend at that time who was originally from Egypt. She was someone who meant the world to me. This was the same one I broke up with on my travels throughout Europe. Someone who played a part of my life for three years. I bought the tickets to go to Egypt before we broke up. I wanted to see her hometown and her life before she left to live in the western world.

Protester’s signs of 9/11 taken by Hugo Morel

Of course we broke up; however, life goes on. So, I was stuck with tickets to Egypt. Might as well make the most of it. Didn’t realize that the tickets were on 9/11, until after it was too late to cancel without a fee. Now looking back, it’s ironic that I work at the world trade center while writing this post. Also, the building where I work was completely destroyed during 9/11. Life has a weird sense of humor.

Now back to the story, my family heard of me traveling on 9/11. They were extremely worried and upset. I couldn’t tell them that I was going to the Middle East because I didn’t want any unnecessary heart attacks. They just told me to make sure I bring a cross necklace with me. Looking back, that’s probably what saved me.

flying out of JFK with a view over Manhattan taken by Hugo Morel

When I finally got to the airport, everything was normal; until, I got to the check in. I was traveling on a German airline. The airline worker at the front desk looked at me, then at looked at the ticket. She said in a worried tone,”oh, you are going to that country.” Asked her what she meant by that; however, she changed the subject. Deep down, I knew they thought I was probably some type of terrorist. This the first time ever I experienced racism in perspective of an Arab.

Got to the security, where they check your bags. Showed the security guard my ticket and he gave me a face of hatred. He didn’t questioned it, just kept giving me a look of hate. I could sense, I wasn’t welcomed.

Finally, got to the line to put your bags through the x-rays machine. Not sure, if the security guard told his coworker where I was going but, they pulled me to the side. The guard asked me in a serious tone, “where are you going?” Told him that I was going to Egypt. He kept looking at me funny. Then he noticed, I was wearing a necklace. He asked in a demanding voice, “what’s that on your neck?!” I responded,”it’s a cross my family told me to wear.” I pulled it out and he studied it. After a few minutes, he let me go on my way and gave me back my cross. Finally, got my bags and my Egyptian adventures were about to start.

The cross my parents gave to me to wear. It’s a Franciscan cross. The same saint my home town was named after. Taken by Hugo morel

Sitting on the plane waiting for the take off, I started thinking. This experience really changed my views. I started wondering, if this is something Arabs have to face a lot. The weird thing is that I’m actually of Lebanese descent. However, my family that are Lebanese are Maronite Christians. So this experience was really new to me. Plus, I never was once treated like an Arab because not many people know that about me. I just tell them, I’m afrolatino because that’s how I was raised to be. After this experience, I have empathy towards middle Eastern people.

Thank you for taking your time reading this post. Much love and safe travels!


The Beauty of New York City

There’s a reason why I choose to live in the New York metropolitan area. As the “capital” of the world, you get access to pretty much any type of food from any culture.

Taken by Hugo Morel

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay, you do not get the access to all of the cultures that you do here in New York City. My family here would tell me stories about hanging out with thier friends from Mongolia and Turkestan. My cousin would tell me about how he used to get invited into thier home and they would cook him authentic exotic food. I was always envious of him growing up. We only had awesome Mexican food out in the Bay Area!

Traditional Mongolian dish by google

The skyline, the food and the culture is what really attracted me to this city. Truly love this city, as expensive as it is. I truly wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Downtown Manhattan taken by Hugo Morel

Being the capital of the world, the New York City metropolitan area has two international airports and one national. It has three airports in total. Being the traveler I was, I just had to move here. So much food, culture and possible airplane tickets.

Curry chicken with rice at a Jamaican restaurant taken by Hugo morel

The reason why I am posting about New York today is because we are going to start a series of food from all over the world that is found in New York City.

Be on the look out!

Thank you so much for taking your time to read this post. Much love!

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