There is no right or wrong when it comes to embarking on a project like this. For ten years adventures (and the stories generated by them) starting out as a hobby (or an urge) and slowly they became my living, my lifestyle and a core part of my being.
But until now I haven't travelled anywhere so complex. Softly tackling controversial issues like gun control in the States always attracted me especially when travelling in the South, but compared to this area of the Middle East gun control in the States is a black and white issue.
Here, there is grey everywhere. Or, if you're in the West Bank, Zones A, B and C.
Leon and I agreed from the off that this was a chance to show a different side to the Middle East. A human story, unravelling as we walked. A chance for individuals and families to tell their stories far removed from the news headlines and stereotypes often pushed by global media and a chance for us to perhaps gain a little understanding of what happens (and is felt) on the ground.
We don't yet know how the final product(s) of this story are going to turn out, or even what their starting point is. A book and a film? Probably? Maybe? This journey will take us through so many different regions, each with their own beauties and struggles, many unconnected with their neighbours. So all we can do is travel with fresh, open minds, and not pretend to be anything we're not.
But what is important to us is that we share as we go. This means a little extra work. It means we have to balance experiencing the moment with compromising any situation or conversation in order to grab a camera or make notes.
Speaking for myself, I'm starting from scratch with this region, so I'll be sharing as I learn from the absolute basics upwards - think substitute teacher cramming for tomorrow's lesson the night before class.
This journey is called Walk the Masar, as Masar means path in Arabic. We've chosen several local walking trails to roughly guide us on this hike. The Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil through the West Bank, the Jordan Trail in Jordan and the Sinai Trail in Egypt. We're still talking about the final stages of our walk, but have built some flexibility into the whole concept so as to allow a story to develop that we feel deserves telling.
Leon and I will both be sharing this journey in our own way. Now and then, if we feel the other deserves it, we'll share a post, but largely our feeds will be different, although our timeline will naturally be similar as long as Leon keeps up with me :)
It's worth mentioning that In addition to the unavoidable conversation about politics and religion this is still a good old adventure at heart. We're just two humans walking 1000 miles or so through an area new to both of us, and as well as opening up a new side of cultures that many following this trip will not be fortunate enough to experience on their own terms, we'll also try not to neglect the simple side of things. Blisters, gear, logistics, statistics, maps, tricks of the 'trade' and our personal methods of travelling sans motor.
I'll apologise only for my lack of culture and the almost certain mistakes I'll make in phrasing, naming and choosing the right terms along the way (there are often so many options!).
So without further ado it's time to continue walking. I hope you enjoy this slow journey as much as I hope we will, and along the way it would be great to hear your thoughts, experiences, or simply your feedback on how we're doing.
Signing out, a few miles in...