"Welcome to my Interpretation of the World :)" JohnniOmani's Profile

Unitentional Awareness

Before you begin to read the article below, I just wanted to say sorry for not updating all the time. Work always takes a lot of my time but I still manage to travel at every possible opportunity. Thank you for stopping by and I hope to hear from you ! Safe Travels :)

Travelling broadens the mind. Will you take the path less travelled? Open doors into people’s lives and you will be rewarded with a rare gift. Your imagination and curiosity will propel you to experience life to the fullest. Eyes of beggars will reach you. And your soul will be touched by the human spirit. Make your own adventure despite what people may think. You will be thankful later in life. A smile is the best passport you can have. Better relations among people will only strengthen our global bonds. More understanding is mandatory. Well rounded people make better fathers, sons, daughters and mothers. Individual relationships should be valued above all else. Travelling is enlightening. The world needs us to understand it. World peace is a dream that we can obtain. Changes are long overdue. Your acts today will help determine our future. Perception must be based on facts and not hearsay. When will people understand this? You can’t pass judgment without justification. Don’t listen to negative stereotypes. Even your friends will find it difficult to understand your ambitions. Realize your dreams are obtainable. It will happen. There are opportunities for everyone. Are you prepared to follow your heart? Hidden inside oneself is the drive to learn from experience. Messages on the wall tell you to seize the day. In life, we face a lot of adversity. Life is a challenge filled with roadblocks. That drive to travel and understand the world shouldn’t be overlooked. Most people are too scared to grasp it. People must learn from others. Don’t pass on those opportunities because regret will surely follow. Pay it forward and your effort will be rewarded. Attention to suffering is often overlooked. To see others in difficult situations shouldn’t be avoided. People rarely look the other way if they connect with someone. Need is a basic necessity that people often confuse with desire. To understand this is to understand the principle of aid. Understand people need our help in some capacity. That mentality is lacking in this world. Travelling opens doors. The people of the world are more similar than most people realize or willing to admit to. World relationships are important. Can watching TV help you feel empathy for people in need? Allow yourself to be challenged. You are the only one that can do it. Access your fears by eliminating them through travel. To travel is to understand. Deeper empathy must be reached. Understanding of one’s history can forecast our future. Of all the beautiful things in this world, happiness should not be underestimated. People and their actions make this world what it is today. History should guide us. And our goal should be to understand it. This planet is astounding. Great people do exist. World harmony is achievable. People do care. People want change. If only we tried to understand the people around us. Only if we knew them. You would be surprised what is possible. Look and think outside your world. Further down the line, think twice before judging a stranger. For only a moment, put yourself in their shoes. A brief second. Few do. Moments with others is what life should be all about.

Now go back and read the 1st word of each sentence in sequence to find a hidden message.
The message is as follows:Travelling will open your eyes and make you a better more well rounded individual. Travelling the world changes your perception when you don't even realize it. There are hidden messages in life that most people don't pay attention to. People need to understand that travelling the world can allow you access to deeper understanding of people, history and this great world. If only you look further for a few moments

Luxury Item - March 2011

“Do you know how I can get a visa for your country, I want to go to America or Canada but nobody can help me and the Iranian officials here won’t assist me either”. “I want a better life for me and my family but we feel trapped in this country”. “I am educated and speak five languages yet I can’t find work”. How was I supposed to respond to his request? I certainly didn’t work for an embassy or consulate but that piece of information didn’t matter to my new Afghani acquaintance. The man’s optimistic eyes searched my face waiting for a positive response while I thought of a diplomatic and hopeful response. I wasn’t sure what to say so I explained how the immigration process worked in Canada and which websites and people to contact.

The man’s heart sank as I explained Canada’s point system for accepting immigrants. The man had fled Eastern Afghanistan as the fighting intensified in his village in 2004. His family had been separated during the chaos and he had travelled with his daughters and wife to Iran to avoid the violence. He was educated in Kabul as an engineer and now lived in Iran as a refugee of war. Life for Afghan refugees in Iran is not an easy life. They face discrimination and racism from the locals due to the fact that Iranians compete with the newly arriving foreigners for employment and living space. Millions of Afghans arrive annually in Iran which has ultimately caused friction between the two nations.

The man was polite, well spoken and gentle. His traditional clothes and long beard were well groomed showing that despite not working and living a difficult life, he had great self pride. Both of us looked at each other while the world around us was oblivious to our presence. Standing in a square in Central Iran while speaking to an Afghani man was surreal. Families enjoyed picnics while couples rollerbladed around the square. My new friend and I sat down on a bench and continuted our conversation. The man’s warmth obliged me to answer his questions. He was incredibly excited to meet me as he said that he has never met a Westerner foreigner before. He invited me for ice cream and we walked around the square together as he told me about his harrowing journey across Taliban controlled territory in Afghanistan. Despite the difficulties he had experienced, he proudly showed me photos of his wife and children and described his life before the war started. The man’s stories of pre war Afghanistan were filled with smiles and tears. He told me that he and his family used to go to their favourite park to laugh and enjoy each other every Friday before the war took place. After several hours together, we parted ways with a traditional kiss on each cheek and a warm hug.

That meeting in the hot Iranian sun was nearly five years ago and that man’s face and words still stay with me to this day. Hearing his journey really put my life into perspective. So many travellers explore this world freely without obtaining a difficult visa or work permit while others would give any item they possess to obtain freedom. Meeting people around the world has made me realize how lucky I am to have been born in Eastern Canada. Taxi drivers with Master degrees in Syria to PhD holding shop keepers in Yemen has shown me that not everyone has a fortunate position in life. Realizing how lucky you are to be born in a Westerner nation should never be overlooked or forgotten. Life in most countries doesn’t include all inclusive beach holidays, SUVs or fancy restaurants. It consists of parents and families trying their best to improve their family’s future while working 15 hours a day. My travels have allowed me to meet African children who walk two hours to school to Armenians and Georgians who deal with daily power cuts and cold showers. I have had enlightening coonversations with people from Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, North Korea, Yemen, Brazil, Pakistan among many others and their resilience has always been astonshing. One thing is for certain. My passport is a luxury item and that is something I will never take for granted

Bannock, Komotiks and Igloos

The green lights looked as though they were dancing with each other, moving across the sky as though they were moving to a Latin rhythm number. The brightness of the lights shined as though they were meant by nature to guide the Inuit’s path across the frozen Earth. The freezing temperatures bit at my nose while my eyes strained to take in the views. Complete amazement. Thoughts ran through my mind. Was I really here? Was I really sleeping in an igloo? The wind howled across the Arctic tundra as stars dazzled the sky. It was my fourth night on the tundra. Despite the temperatures dipping below minus fifty, the warmth of the igloo was comforting. The warmth gave me a sense of security against the elements while deadly creatures lurked the night in search of prey. Polar bears and wolverines roamed the area while we slept with the warmth of ice all around us. The stars and northern lights illuminated the tundra in a way that a lake or sea would catch the early morning sunrise. My arctic adventure was coming to an end but the last four days had been unforgettable. The land trip across the Canadian Arctic started with a warm handshake outside the town of Arviat. The elders had agreed to take me on a Caribou trip with them. Their friendly weather beaten faces greeted me as my friend and I pulled up in our skidoo.

Everyone was excited for the trip. Dogs barked off in the distance and we soon realized that our transportation would be a combination of dog sleds and skidoos. The dogs looked ferocious and their temperament intimidating yet my 70 year old guide assured me everything would work out for the best. After accepting his Inuktitut translated advice, we threw our gear into the back of the komatik (wooden sled). We set off with the only goals being to caribou hunt and ice fish. My friend and I laid in the back of the komatik overcome with excitement as the sled bounced against the icy tundra hitting invisible bumps along the way. The town behind us drifted off into the distance as we raced with the sun on our faces. The sled dogs barked as the skidoo effortlessly made its way across the barren landscape while ice found its way into my thick beard. The cold was mind numbing and after observing the beautiful scenery for an hour, I laid down to protect myself against the wind. The cold was overwhelming and it amazed me how anyone could survive longer than an hour on the tundra without the assistance of an elder. Occasionally, we popped up from underneath the caribou skin blankets to check our location but the arctic tundra was only distinguishable by occasional Inukshuks to guide our way. The eskers (bumps in the ice) guided our Inuit drivers and the thought of navigating my way around the arctic landscape was extremely intimidating. The wind was brutal and my feet were numb now. It was astonishing that my driver was 70 years old and only wore a a homemade Arctic wolf fur jacket and knitted handmade toque that his wife had knitted for him. My clothes felt like a comforting blanket. Seal skin boots, a coyote fur jacket and rabbit fur mittens were the only items that stood between me and death.

Special Moments

A Border Glance

The border was coming into to focus. We were waiting in line to cross back into Rwanda from the Congo just as I noticed an older man on the opposite side of the road looking in my direction. Our eyes locked; transfixed on each other realizing that our lives had been extreme opposites. His eyes sought my face with a sense of urgency and envy. The look is indescribable unless you have experienced it firsthand in a third world country. The man was twice my age and he just gave me a blank stare that said nothing yet revealed everything.

The sun was ready to go down in less than an hour and the world behind us was fading away. Thoughts ran through my mind as my papers were being checked by a Congolese border guard. Thoughts of what that man with the fascinating eyes must have been thinking when we connected glances. Had he been a refugee?Perhaps he was a migrant worker? Surely he had suffered unimaginable circumstances that would surpass anything endured by me in my lifetime.

The man’s look was haunting; a look that almost begged for help yet his silence was humbling. Those eyes that really touch who you are as a human being and remind you how fortunate one can be in life. Surely, our eyes only connected fora few seconds but it seemed like an eternity.

Just as the African night was falling, Rwandan soil was once again beneath my feet for the first time in nearly a day. So many questions. Where would that man sleep? What would happen to him and his family? Despite the uncertainties, one thing is certain.That moment in the Congolese evening will not be forgotten.

The Unmentionable Reality

The last few years has given me further insight into foreign cultures and I must say that I am learning or at least observing a great deal about how the world operates on a daily basis. I have noticed countless great things about people and their customs but I have witnessed harsh realities that will linger in my mind for the rest of my life. Travelling is a fantastic way to learn about the world and despite the majority of the time being filled with great memories, journeys through off the beaten track destinations (places where many travellers feel out of their element) have left sharp impressions in my mind. Countless people travel with their eyes closed but I believe witnessing, remembering and learning from people in difficult situations teaches you to view the world through an alternate set of lens. Ive travelled through East Africa and witnessed the realities of situations where a significant % of the population have survived and continue to survive in unimaginable circumstances. Ive met people who didn't ask for my money but for the clothes off my back to people that only get a chance to really bath when it rains.

I witnessed lepers in India begging for money while people in Syria and Iran try to make ends meet despite sanctions. After experiencing these countries first hand and coming home to Canada with all its luxuries can be tough on me at times. No matter what happens in life (missing a car payment or having student loans) things can always be worse. People suffer hardship on a daily basis and thousands die needlessly in places such as Darfur or in Northern Uganda. Travelling and experiencing the hardship of other people has put my own life into perspective and I have such a deep respect for the resilience of people around the globe.

I firmly believe that most people by nature are good spirited folks willing to show a foreign host a great time if they extend a welcoming hand and an open mind. The people I have met through my travels throughout the past four years have given me such a multi faceted outlook on the world. Ive come to the understanding that everyday life of peace and happiness is the desired outcome for most folks but not the reality for others. Travelling really changes your vision about what life is and how people deal with it. Many people I ve encountered are genuine people that would do anything to trade positions with a foreigner. I often think how it was absolute luck that I was born into a great family in Canada and after travelling abroad I never take that fact for granted. Travelling is a rollercoast ride of emotions but a ride that Ive been lucky enough to experience on numerous occasions. I will continue on this journey for the rest of my life and I will continue to be humbled by the resilience and hospitality of people from around the world.

The Middle East? More Than Just Desert

The Middle East has long been discriminated against and misunderstood by people worldwide especially by the western world including my friends, family and myself. Most travellers don't consider travelling this region due to the political turmoil and conservatism but despite having its problems, the Middle East offers travellers just about anything you could ever imagine. The Middle East is an archaeologists and Historians dream come true. Although it helps, it isnt necessary to to have any appreciation of history to be blown away by much of what there is to see in the region. The area has some of the most incredible structures known to man from Petra to the Pyramids with less known gems like Baalbek or Shaharah.

Most people that visit the region are absolutely stunned to learn that the Middle East has some of the most impressive structures and ever built by man. Not only are they incredible but there are so many different styles of buildings that exist in the region. Yemen has some of the most visually dazzling buildings in the region with its ginger bread type homes. Oman has impressive gleaming white buildings that shine in the sunset like nothing you have ever seen before. Egypt has the ancient wonders ranging from the Pyramids to Abu Simbel while Jordan has the beautiful ruins of Petra and Jerash. Iran has gorgeous blue tiled mosques while Lebanon is home to some of the best preserved Roman buildings on Earth. Add Turkey, the Gulf and Israel to the list and you would need 3 lifetimes to experience it all. In addition, the views are out of this world. The desert scenery in Oman, Iran and Jordan will make your jaw drop and the mountains in Yemen, Turkey and Lebanon are a paradise for trekkers. The Middle East has just about anything you could ever ask for and due to current problematic areas ie Iraq, Israel/Palestine and you have a place where mass tourism does not exist. After three years of exploring its sights, the Middle East still humbles me when I least expect it whether it is the stunning sunsets or hospitable people. Living in the Middle East has opened up my eyes and mind in so many different ways and allowed me to experience one of the most interesting cultures the world has to offer. I have traveled through Palestinians' refugee camps to drinking tea near Iraq and every person I met traveling thus far has been so friendly to me no matter their political ideology, religion, color, origin or gender. They have always greeted me with the most honest sincerity and welcomed me to their country. I am far from naïve and I don’t live in a fantasy world of peace and harmony but human beings are more alike then most realize or willing to admit and traveling in the region has allowed me to discover this first hand which is proving to be a remarkable experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Travel here and you will walk away in awe :) The Middle East has to be experienced to be believed and with five thousand years of history and culture, it is impossible not to fall in love with the place.

The Caucasus: In a League of its Own

The Caucasus has always been a region out of the ordinary. For thousands of years it has been a bridge and refuge, a home to mountain clans and ancient peoples and an area that has seen its fair share of oppression and conflict. The Caucasus consists of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan and Armenia are remarkable countries but I found Georgia to be the most fascinating nation due to its traditions, people and history. Even as late as the 20th century there were mountain men in Georgia wearing medieval tunics and wielding swords. Most travellers first impression is one of astonishment due to the locals hospitality as well as the beautiful views. It lives up to the old travel writing cliché of the ‘land of contrasts’. Georgia is home to stunning mountain scenery, police corruption, a unique language, legendary hospitality, brutal history, fantastic traditions, heavy drinkers and soviet statues making it the absolute highlight of my travels thus far.

A Funny but Interesting Morning in Africa

The alarm goes off but not before the unidentifiable birds outside my house wake me up before the sun has even broken the horizon. I push the mosquito net away from my face and tie it up properly until I use it again later when I go to bed. The windows are shaking as I hear thunder and lightning off in the distance and know that there will be no power in the house this morning. No power has the potential to mean a number of things in my area. Firstly, the hot water heater will be off which means no hot shower or no shower at all will take place today. Second, even if I wanted to take a shower, I would have to do it in the dark anyways. Naturally, I go to the sink to take a bird bath because for some reason, the water pressure from the sink has been stronger than my shower pressure lately. After I wash up with a bird bath using a flashlight, I go over to the battery we have upstairs which should give lights if properly charged. The lights are blinking red which means the power must have gone out late at night. After checking the status of the battery, I go back to the bedroom to fumble around for work clothes. I think I picked out matching work clothes but will not find out for about twenty minutes when I can actually see them. Next, I go downstairs and open the blinds in an attempt to let some early rise sunshine into the house so I can have some cereal since the toaster and every other appliance is not working. In addition, it is raining hard so I must prepare myself for the motorbike ride to work. I get my rubber boots, rain pants and jacket and an old rag which I will use to clean the water off the motorbike. Rubber boots are essential as I have learned my lesson in the past by wearing running shoes through the African mud. Before I leave the steps to go to my motorbike, I stand on the balcony looking across the valley at a magnificent view. Falcons fly around the valley along with the sound of exotic birds and insects all around me. It is a simply amazing view. I admire the view for a few minutes before pushing down to the car park but forget something. I forgot it is garbage day today so I run back upstairs to collect the garbage from the storage room but not before shaking the bag to make sure there are no spiders or any other creepy crawlers waiting around the bag for me. Usually, a praying mantis or cockroach or other type of insect greet me in the mornings. Happily, no creatures decided to say hello today. You never know what you will see around the house from peacocks to monkeys but they all must be sleeping today. After all of this, we jump on the motorbike and begin to drive away. The sun is just starting to come over the mountains. It is beautiful. I drive down the dirt path through and around giant pot holes which gives me the sensation I am in an old video game. The entire area is void of any form of traffic until suddenly I drive up to a farmer and his 30 cows. All the cattle have huge horns which makes dodging them in the rainy dark morning even more of a challenge. After patiently navigating around the cattle, I arrive at work. It is 6:40am. Despite the daily challenges, the days are never Boring :)

  • Intro Updated Feb 5, 2015
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Comments (171)

  • kahnjetta's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2015 at 9:14 AM

    Happy Birthday!

  • Mar 6, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    hope you had a great birthday mate. keep on travellin!

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Best wishes - hope the day was a good one. L

  • toemayn's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    Hope your birthday is filled with all the fun you can handle!

  • kahnjetta's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    Happy Birthday, best wishes on your special day:).

  • Minceta's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2014 at 5:00 AM


  • Feb 28, 2014 at 4:08 AM

    Hey JZ! Sick of the site, hated the new changes, friends leaving left right and centre.... No fun anymore. But I pop in from time to time to say hi to old mates. Hope life is treating you well. Are you on Facebook?

  • udtaparindaa's Profile Photo
    Feb 17, 2014 at 4:17 AM

    Thats a lovely lovely and vibrant main pic...loved it :D

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Jan 26, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    we had 8 days in Burundi sharing with people still recovering from the genocide - fascinating to have been there. hopefully I will get back to see more of both countries.

  • rudysmom626's Profile Photo
    May 9, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Hi John!

    Just wanted to let you know that your new photo on this page was chosen as Member Photo of the Week! I'll be messaging you shortly so we can send you some goodies from VTHQ! It was also featured on our VT Facebook page, which you can see here: facebook.com/VirtualTourist?...

    Congrats and keep up the awesome photos!
    Blake aka Rudysmom626

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John Z
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