I have very mixed feelings about my trip to Israel and Jordan this summer, not least because of the on-going geopolitical debacle. Over the 23-ish years of my international traveling career I have evolved from places that evoked the developed West to places that were anything but. Israel was firmly a return to the West, but unexpectedly.
I thought "Middle East". I thought "Israel-Arab" conflict. I thought "Jews, Muslims, and Christians mingling/fighting in 2,000-2,500 year old cities".
I got Maseratis, wifi on city buses, and cost-of-living that met or exceeded that of the US. I got Brooklyn.
Literally Jaffa Street in Jerusalem could be the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn: a landscaped pedestrian mall were (Ultra-)Orthodox Jews buy trendy clothing and push baby-strollers, and conversations take place in Hebrew or Yiddish. And that soured me because I travel to experience things I can't see at home.
I told The Canadian: "To me this is Brooklyn. To my friends this is Mars." I looked around and kept getting yanked back to the US, which shredded the veil that I had traveled anywhere at all. But many people miss the similarities to the US, and see it as foreign language, foreign money, foreign war - and have their little freak out about "holy shit I am totally out of my comfort zone".
I was way too much in my comfort zone.
That's not to say that I didn't see and experience unfamiliar things and culture. I just had to dig past way more BMWs, espresso bars, and clothing boutiques than I anticipated.
More to come as I resurrect my life. Yuck yuck yuck.