It takes face to face encounters to rediscover the humanity of people.  Negative news images and blanket stereotypes can make us Westerners forget that Arabs are real people, with hopes and hurts much like our own.  Below are a few more of our experiences we had while hitchhiking in Jordan.

Sitting in a truck, our driver “Hamza” (not his real name) told us of his broken heart. The woman he loved wasn’t allowed to marry him.  Her father forbid it and chose someone else for her.  He now drives for hours, his mind lost in thoughts of her.  He has decided he will never marry.

Walking next to “Mustafa”, he began telling us the story of his twin brother.  “We were the same. Same size, same voice, same likes and dislikes. We were 23 years old. Walking together side by side on the road, my brother doubled over.  ‘My heart hurts’, he said.  I picked him up, put him on my shoulder and ran to the doctor.  When I got there, I laid him on the table.  The doctor told me he was dead.  I still cannot think of that moment without becoming overwhelmed with sadness.”

“Saif” showed us a treeless cemetery.  We wandered through it together, and stopped at the grave of his father.  Saif knelt down and prayed that God would have mercy on his father.

“Ahmed” told us of a group of Italian tourists that he had helped on the road.  He invited them to his home for dinner.  He was honored by their presence.  They told him they would write him.  They have yet to write.  “Did I do something wrong?” he asked us.  “Why didn’t they write?”

My most rewarding experiences while traveling have been the people I’ve met, not the sites I’ve seen.

How have you been impacted by people in your travels?