Day 10: Desert Palaces, Castles
Today we are doing as lot of stuff in the desert. While most of it is Islamic stuff that doesn’t interest me as much, it is still interesting and I am learning a lot. I have a new appreciation of desert dwellers. Between the heated wind and no water, I wonder how people even survived out here at all.
We have been following the trail of the life of one Islamic Califf (whose name I cannot pronounce, so I won’t even attempt to spell it). I have to respect this man: he built palaces and castles out in the middle of the desert where nobody would go. It’s pretty smart to put them in places so off the beaten trail nobody would think to look for them.
This Califf was known as the Crazy Califf because of his love of art and high living. He built a palace/bathhouse out in the middle of the desert for his honored guests. When his guest would arrive in the city with him, he would show them around and then offer them to go out in the desert to get away from the busy life and enjoy the bathhouse. This house was decorated with many murals and paintings over all the walls and ceilings.
In addition, he had a guesthouse in the middle of the desert for some of the Bedouin kings to stay in as guests when he went to visit them. This castle looked like a huge hotel and is so beautifully preserved in the desert sand. The lack of rain and water erosion preserved the castle for us to see in modern day.
However, the heat and sand has started to affect our party. The complaining machine has taken over. I have been fighting it with all my strength, and so far, I have been doing pretty well (if I do say so myself). I think I am helped by the fact everyone else around me is complaining so much that I don’t want to sound like them, so I just shut up (even though I am thinking the same thing in my head).
Don’t get me wrong, the entire party is not complaining, just a few people. One of our team members tends to complain about EVERYTHING we do, and I just want to slap them most of the time. Other people have said things like, “I can’t wait to get back to America where water is free.” “When I get back to the states, I am going to a restaurant and getting so many refills I have to pee just because I can.” “I can’t wait to get back home so I can eat lunch at 11:30 when I am used to, and not a 2:00.” “Why does the internet cost here? It should not cost when it is free in America.” “Why the desert?! Why would people choose to live in the desert?!” “What?! We have to pay for our water here!” “I’m tired of riding in the bus!” “Why do we have to get up so early? I just want to sleep in!” “There is no air conditioning in my room!” “Is this all they have to eat for lunch? I want a real meal.” “I really miss McDonald’s right now.” “Do we really have to stop here? I really don’t want to stop here now.” “Ugh… this is just another famous place… I really could care less to see this right now…” “This water here isn’t even cold.”
Honestly, I am getting pretty tired of all the complaining from everyone. This is a Study Abroad trip to the Middle East, not a vacation. The life over here is tough. Water is hard to come by. People do smell. Most people don’t take a bath. Guess what? These people have a lot less than we have in America.
I don’t know everyone’s heart and mind on this trip, but I’m pretty sure many people on this trip are missing the point. This could be a huge learning experience for them, but instead they can’t see past their own discomfort. They can’t see past the experiences that cause them agitation to see that other people live in this environment every day. These people struggle with the same things we are struggling with while we are here. They don’t complain about it; they accept it as life. They move on. They adapt. They thrive.
Americans are so spoiled rotten. I mean ROTTEN rotten. We go over to another country and demand that it be like America. Maybe not directly, but we demand. We may not say, “This should be like how we do it in America,” but we complain when it isn’t like it is in America.
*Sigh* Oh well. There is nothing I can do about it. I can’t voice my opinion on it because I have no authority these people will listen to. I am just their peer who then comes across as arrogant and condemning. I hope they don’t see me that way.
When it comes down to it, I am just as guilty as everyone else; I just don’t voice it as much. Most of the things they have said out loud I have thought in my head. I can’t see their hearts, but I do know how God is working in mine. My heart breaks for these people. I understand and appreciate them so much more. I see them as allies and friends, people who I can empathize with now. While most of them are not Christians, they are still God’s creation, and He still loves them just as much as He loves me. I hope that through this experience I can learn to show everyone just as much love.
Following His Call,