moved by history: part i

In the last few years, I’ve traveled to Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, Spain, Hungary, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Panama and Uruguay. I have also been to China, France, Italy, Greece, Mexico, and Canada.

So many places are gorgeous- the sunset from Punta del Este, the islands and animals of Bocas del Toro, the gardens of Paris. The places and trips that I remember the most, though, are the ones where I was able in some way to interact with history: in Paris, the catacombs; in Hungary, the Museum of Terror and Memento Park; in Italy, Pompeii; in Greece, the Acropolis; etc. This past July, on my 36th birthday, in France, I explored the Pech Merle cave site and saw cave paintings that are over 20,000 years old. The tour was full of speculation: why did people paint these figures? were the paintings considered art? did they tell a story, or give a warning, or record an event, or were they worship in some way? who were the people who painted the paintings, and how are we like and unlike them?

In the caves; in all these places, I get literal chills. I picture who stood at these sites before me and I wonder what history these places have seen. My thoughts oscillate between intense feelings of similarity with these humans from long ago (the paintings are beautiful, how crazy that humans 20,000 years later can still consider the same things beautiful!), awe, and a disturbing feeling of alienness. The people who built Machu Picchu were accustomed to human sacrifice. The skulls and bones in the catacombs underneath Paris witnessed a bloody revolution. The citizens of Athens created a new form of government. How amazing humans were, and are! And how terrible! And how strange!

 

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