We’re fine. But I’m a little spooked.
We were sitting in a cafe in Córdoba, Spain, having a late lunch, when the TV cut to the bombings in Brussels. As you no doubt know, two bombs went off in Brussels and if I can read Spanish properly, the authorities found a third that failed to go off. Many people dead. In southern Spain, according to the news at least, people are worried.
It’s the height of their Easter festival here and I would assume it’s prime time for something nasty to happen. Although, personally, I’ll be more worried when we head north in May.
It’s ‘the day after’ as I write this and things seem normal here, although there are a lot more police patrolling the cathedrals and main tourist areas this morning. We toured the Mosque/Cathedral this they checked our bags before we went in. There were three Muslim fellows in front of us in line and I’m sad to tell you that they made me a little nervous. But I guess that’s what happens when anyone could have a bomb strapped to them.
The men made some other tourists nervous too, mainly with the pictures they were taking. Two tourists talked to security, who then spoke to two police officers (who were walking around with their shotguns out) who then spoke to the Muslim men. We watched for a while as they police gave their papers a very good look. One of the Muslim fellows spoke good Spanish (thank goodness) and had a long, calm conversation with the police officers. We left before it ended but it appeared that everything was going to be OK.
So it’s not a good time to be Muslim and walking around in Europe. Or from what I’ve read, the USA either. I don’t know about Canada, but I assume it’s not much fun at home too. And I get it, I guess. But there’s something that’s sticking in me, especially because all this is happening when we’re in Córdoba, where the main attraction is the Mosque/Cathedral. After the Roman’s left, this piece of land was a Cathedral in the time of the Visigoths, then a shared Muslim/Christian space, then the largest Mosque in Western Europe, then a Cathedral only. All with a span of 1300 years. Recently, Muslims have been trying to get access to the space to pray again and the Christians aren’t going to let that happen any time soon.
My point being that all sorts of people have lived in this land for many, many hundreds of years. Some times one group is in power and the other are suppressed. Then things change and another group is in power. But always someone in power, someone gets the short end. Roman, Visigoth, Muslim, Christian, Monarchist, Republican, Fascist, Republican. It doesn’t matter. Somebody wants to get rich and can justify taking things. Then we justify keeping things, and fearing ‘the others’ until someone comes and takes it from us. It’s true in Spain and it’s true in Saskatchewan. And it makes me sad.
We’ve been walking around a very beautiful city this morning; beautiful specifically because of the mix of cultures who have built this place. And all I can think about is fear and hate.
All I can think about is whether humans are doomed to always fear or hate ‘the others.’ And whether we are doomed to be ruled by someone, be it a warlord, King, President, MP, MLA or CEO who gains and keep power by playing on those fears. And what would it take for us all to really, truly, live and let live.
I don’t know. We’ll keep on travelling, with our eyes open, and with our hearts open too. And I’ll try really hard not to get nervous just because the guy beside me looks different than I do.
PS. More light hearted travel fare tomorrow.