Travel Abroad: New Complications

5317564C-F54D-492C-941F-87372B8F6489Summertime and vacations go together. And it’s great to get away, have a change of pace and leave all worries behind – at least for a little while.

Yet transition always involves stress – wrapping up work and pulling back from technology, the rigors of travel itself. With increased terrorism in today’s world, we experience even more pressure. Now there are many emotional layers, like fear and worry, that make you wonder if it wouldn’t be better to stay home. But that would be giving in.

We’re just back from a cruise on the 40-mile stretch of the Rhine River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The countryside of France and Germany is spectacular – from the farmland crops and terraced vineyards to the ancient villages and fortified medieval castles.

Sailing past the steep hillsides, the picturesque castles date back to the 13th century. At that time their strategic placement along the heights beyond the river was to maximize defensive positions. We were captivated by the charm and history of the region, until we heard what had just happened in the seaside city of Nice.

It was the terrorist attack on Bastille Day, a symbol of freedom in France, during the celebration of liberty, equality and fraternity. And going to the fireworks is an annual family ritual, a time for picnics on the beach. An unstable loner, recently radicalized, zigzagged a 19-ton truck through the crowds, killing 84, at least 10 of them children, and injuring dozens more. This was the third major terror incident in France within the past 18 months.

We ended our trip in Belgium, flying out of the Brussels airport that was bombed only three months ago. Seeing the strong military presence throughout the city was reassuring but short-lived. While eating dinner at an alfresco cafe, a fight broke out between the waiters. There were overturned tables, ethnic slurs and bloodshed. Laughter between locals and us turned to panic. And the manager, crying, quickly ushered us out of the area.

Each situation in Europe, with the chaos, trauma and grief, increases fear and worry. And  uncertainty causes more stress. The world has changed and everyone is vulnerable. Staying alert, aware, and cautious, respecting limits and boundaries, relying on relationships and spirituality are all ways to feel more calm and centered.

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