This is a new feature here at Captain and Clark. For our Wandering Wednesday guest posts we will ask a fellow travel blogger to highlight one place (city or entire country) that has been one of the most memorable for them. It can be a fond type of memorable, or “my hair caught on fire, I contracted rabies, and my luggage was stolen”- type of memorable. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We’re taking it all.
We thought that we might as well kick it off to get things started. As you might already know, we’ve spent the majority of our relationship abroad and have loved every minute of it. We love to travel to places that are unfamiliar. We thrive on the challenge of being put in new and sometime uncomfortable situations. For this Wandering Wednesday we want to share a country that has a special place in our hearts. That country is Bahrain.
First things first, Why do we travel?
One reason we travel is to preserve the stories of the world. To seek out and immortalize them. Every country and every person has a unique story and we believe it is our responsibility to uncover them and share them with others. Story tellers are keepers of culture and history. We tell our stories with our video cameras. We want our stories to inspire others and to get people enthralled and engaged with the world the live in.
We had always been curious about the middle east. We still are. For us, it was a place that we only heard about in the news. We wanted to see and experience it for ourselves. We decided to spend our 2009 Christmas vacation in Dubai when a friend of ours invited us to visit and stay with her family in Bahrain. It was an offer too good to turn down and one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Our visit to Bahrain was on some of the important days of Ashura. The day of Ashura is marked by Muslims as a whole, but for Shi’a Muslims it is a major religious festival which commemorates the martyrdom at Karbala of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad. We were able to roam the streets where some Shi’a men, seeking to emulate the suffering of Hussein, were flagellating themselves with chains and cutting their foreheads until blood streamed from their bodies.
While it was a practice that was foreign to us, we saw a lot of correlations between Hussein’s martyrdom and the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. For us, it highlighted just how ignorant we were beforehand. We knew very little about Islamic beliefs and traditions. It was very enlightening, and while we stuck out like sore thumbs, everyone we came across was very welcoming and inviting. There were also booths set up handing out food and beverages free of charge- another way to pay homage to Hussein.
It should be noted that not all men flagellate themselves. Some Shia leaders and groups discourage the bloodletting, saying it creates a backward and negative image of Shia Muslims. Such leaders encourage people to donate blood instead.
Any advice for travelers headed to Bahrain?
Go to Bahrain with an open heart and an open mind. You’ll learn much more from your experiences that way. It’s a beautiful country and it has so much to offer. Also, be sure to be respectful. Women should dress conservatively, keeping their legs and arms mostly covered.
How did our experiences in Bahrain change us as people and how we feel about travel?
Bahrain reaffirmed that traveling with a local is mutually beneficial. Our friend May made our trip memorable for us. We were able to experience things that we normally wouldn’t even know about. She even got us on private property so that we could watch royal falcons training to hunt. For her, being the tour guide was also beneficial. She too, had never experienced Ashura before. It gave her a chance to experience her country through fresh eyes.
Well, we have 20 letters addressed to places across the globe. We’re currently planning our route, and then we’re taking off to hand-deliver them to the strangers that they’re addressed to. To read more about the journey click here or here.
Be sure to stay tuned! Next week we’re interviewing fellow travel blogger Brock from Backpack With Brock!
Do you or a travel blogger you know have a memorable experience from your travels? Want to be featured on one of our Wandering Wednesday posts? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org