I think I have made a serious mistake, I thought to myself as I was crammed into a mini-van on my way through the Sinai Peninsula with two other women, both from South America. It was deep into the evening and there he stood at the van entrance, his eyes gleaming at me suspiciously as he held my passport in one hand and an AK47 in the other. My heart was racing, my mind thinking about the reality that it was just three girls surrounded by all these men. We could get dragged into the desert, raped and murdered and no one would ever know. Kidnapped, maybe sold into sexual slavery! Read More
“Make sure,” he said, pointing out into the middle of the bus, “to not give in, okay!” He was one of those tour guides where I was not entirely sure if he was honest or just believable because he spoke with confidence about things we knew nothing about. It seemed as though anything he said – even if it was absurd – must be true only because he said it loudly and with a firm expression. He was the expert after all. “No one in Jordan steals!” was one such comment. Read More
An early morning terminal, a bleak sight as I walked not-so-quietly with my suitcase clank-clanking down the empty hallway. It was only moments ago that I waited for my luggage to appear on the baggage carousel, the last person standing with me sighed gleefully after his black suitcase with a blue ribbon suddenly appeared on the conveyor belt. I quickly whispered to myself, “what am I going to do?” Even the lost property office was closed. Read More
“Aloha. Welcome to Hawai’i,” the taxi driver said as he approached me with a warm smile at the airport, stretching out his right hand before he gently placed his left over mine as if to solidify his sincerity.
He slowly placed my luggage into the trunk as I nervously tried to find the Airbnb apartment address in my wallet.
“I’m sure you’ll find it,” he smiled, “no need to worry.” Read More
From the soundless alarm made from the gentle, orange sunrise piercing through the giant tree outside my bedroom window that form shapes on the wall to the random crazy man shouting for no apparent reason on the side of the street. The impolite service, the politics, history, feeling lost in the maze of an unknown language as I stand in shock as people ride hand-made motorised bicycles in the middle of a busy, disorganised road. The combination of young, perfectly tanned girls wearing short dresses that expose their tattoos to women dressed modestly in long skirts and shirts with a scarf over their heads. The dilapidated buildings and infrastructure that is nevertheless functional and the sudden silence during shabbat. On one end I see an overweight, bearded man wearing a payos and hat with a gun strapped around his thigh and on the other I see young, attractive men sipping beers in their board shorts. I am lost in the chaos, overwhelmed by the constant honking of the horns, the failure to understand where to go or what bus to catch. And I love every minute of it. Read More
Peak hour traffic. An endless array of coloured helmets litter the streets, smoke coughing out of the exhaust of an old bus filled with tired faces, a frowning man with his forehead pasted against the dirty window stares out aimlessly at the hundreds of scooters honking their way through the busy street. Two young girls play on the footpath mimicking the others’ moves completely oblivious to the chaos surrounding them. It is easy to zone out, to shut the overwhelming unease that the thousands upon thousands can make you feel, like a person rescued by their imagination as they drift off into a day dream. Like me. I look out at the various clothing stores we crawl past on my way to the airport, thinking about what I need in my wardrobe for work to look a little more professional. Maybe a vintage midi-skirt, that pair of black jeans I have at home that would go well with the white shirt worn by the manikin, perhaps add some blue earrings and red shoes? Zone out from the fact that just before I caught this taxi I saw an elderly Australian man at the hotel lobby, his spotted, plump hands tickling the waist of a young Vietnamese girl as he commented about the bad service from staff, reminding me that underneath the millions in this Vietnamese megacity lies a disturbing reality of sex tourism that is causally linked to sexual exploitation. His yellow stained teeth and hardened belly impregnated by the constant consumption of alcohol that protrudes out and over the belt of his pants sends both shivers down my spine and a desire to kick him and protectively whisk her away from his dishonourable nature. Read More