Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An Adventure in the Middle East

Before leaving Portugal I informed some of my friends and colleagues that I would travel soon to Syria and I got more or less the same reaction, a mixture of sincere concern about my safety and admiration for my courageous attitude. So in order to look even bolder, I would say with a smile: “And if I’m lucky I will jump into Beirut!” At that moment I could see eyes opening even more.

Now, it is hard to explain the experience I lived in Syria and in Lebanon, how safe are cities like Damascus and Beirut, in both I walked alone, much safer than Paris, Washington, Johannesburg or Rio de Janeiro.

Also it’s hard to explain how exquisite Syrian and Lebanese cuisine is. I’m so happy that check-in procedures at the airport don’t included the passenger’s weight of the, because I’m sure I gained some weight, such a good food.

And when you join good food with good people you feel great, a found great people both in Syria and Lebanon, believe that any guest in these countries will feel like a king. I hear about their great hospitality but it went beyond my expectations.

During my visit to Syria and Lebanon I had the privilege to deliver training and to do book presentations to great participants. There are some people that I have to recognize for their extra effort to make my visit unforgettable, first of JCI Syria and their fantastic members, members like Mayss that manage all my days and trainings, or Adib who show me the other Syria that we don’t see on TV, or Samer in charge of putting fun into the program, or Shaza and Omar coordinators of JCI Trainer and Presenter.

Recognition is also in order to the great members of JCI Lebanon, like Rania always available to help me with new plans, or Andre that brought me to Lebanon and show me the contrasts of this great country or Rami and Olga that welcome me in their house with a magnificent view over Beirut.

Everywhere I go I say the same, JCI made my world smaller and at the same time gave me a better understanding of the world, you have to go beyond the international news that are served the same way to you no matter where you live, where there are the good guys and the bad guys, but at the end we are all human that have dreams, aspirations and deserve a better world. I believe that the first step of getting to that better world is to know each other better, so travel as much you can, go to Syria and Lebanon you will not regret for sure :-)