Posted by: Waheeda Harris | March 6, 2013

Do politics affect your travel plans?

Mexico - Petatlan arcadeI remember being in school in the 1990s and one of my fellow classmates was desperate to visit Iran. She was fascinated by the culture, and wanted to be able to explore its borders with her camera.

But alas, the government wouldn’t give her a visa. She tried several times, refused in Canada and in neighbouring countries. She was persistent, but at that time, she couldn’t go.

I remember several summers ago reading a travel article in the New York Times on Beirut, a city that has always held my fascination.

Lebanon was making a resurgence, in a lengthy time of peace, and was embracing its culture and encouraging visitors.

I had enough points and some extra cash, and I started planning a trip, reading as much as possible that was available on what would make sense. I picked out a tour and decided I would go in early Fall, after the heat of a Middle Eastern summer had passed.

But alas, there was an outbreak of war, and within days, the city was once again a war zone, repeatedly bombed and divided again into factions. And my trip was cancelled.

Two years ago I was sent to Mexico, because of the numerous stories in the news in Canada about the dangers of this country, especially to Canadian tourists. I went and loved every minute of it – especially being in a small town and seeing this little girl outside a videogame palace.

And I thought about those rules about not leaving tourist areas – but I was with a locally-hired guide, and wasn’t alone. And I’m glad I was curious and wanted to leave the tourista zone.

As I plan my trips for this year and the future, I realize that I keep an eye on what’s going on – as I currently plan a trip to South America, I keep my eyes on the news as a neighbouring country, Venezuela, now will be the focus of many after the death of its well-known president.

It doesn’t scare me, but I’m cautious and curious. And I still wait for my time to plan my trip to Lebanon – I know it will happen one day.

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