In 2018, Rosie Gabriella, a Canadian solo traveler started her solo traveling journey across Oman. Before she started her trip, she lived in Oman for a couple of years as a singer and photographer. Although there are many solo travelers, Rosie is different and unique. She motorbikes across the world, and recently, she visited and spent most of her time in Muslim majority countries.
Rosie started traveling solo 17 years ago, yet there is still a lot for her to learn from the new countries she visit. Her travel experience in Oman and Pakistan have changed her life in so many different ways. She shares her stories on social media, hoping to inspire people and possibly change the perspectives of how the western world sees the eastern world. She wants people to see the world through her eyes, for what it really is.
“Last year I did two solo motorcycle tours across Oman. It was a life changing experience for me. People often ask me, aren’t you scared traveling alone? Especially traveling in a Muslim country?! With all this negative hype on the media, people’s fear-driven mindsets towards them, and this new “Muslim Ban” in America. I am here to say: I have never been treated so well in my LIFE! To the point that it brought me to tears by the sheer kindness of these people.”
Moreover, she even felt like having a family while in Oman, despite living more than 11.000 km from her homeland. “Being a single female on a bike, people just wanted to take care of me. Everywhere I went, I was invited into homes, cooked copious amounts of food, and was taken care of as if I was their own family. Not once was I judged for what I was wearing, looked down upon because I was a woman, questioned about my religion, or felt threatened in any way whatsoever.”
“It was humans helping a human. This is humanity. This is love. The whole world can learn something from these people, and I am deeply hurt and affected by the misleading negative judgments that they have fallen under. People in the west are quick to judge, driven by fear and less open-minded than the majority of people that I encounter on my travels”
What the media often shows about the Muslim world are: they treat women badly, they are terrorist, you can be killed if you go there, it is too dangerous, and so on and so forth. Hence, those are the stereotypes that Rosie heard about Pakistan. The country that she chose as her next destination. When she decided to continue her solo travel to Pakistan, she often heard “warning” not to go there. But her experience in Pakistan is proof to not believe in what people who do not travel tell you.
“Everyone told me it was too dangerous to come to Pakistan as a single female, let alone ride a motorcycle across the country. After 1500 km’s into my tour I can tell you first hand what it’s like to travel in Pakistan as a solo female and what I’ve experienced so far. Countless smiles and cheers of joy as I pass people and they realize it’s a female riding. Numerous offers to stay in locals homes wherever I stop, families are always inviting me to stay with them. When I stop for chai or snacks at a store, most often someone will buy it for me, or the owner will not let me pay, saying I’m a guest in their country and they would love to give this to me. Food, food and more food! wherever I go, I’m offered to eat wonderful home cooked food or offered gifts of food from street vendors as I pass by. Everyone wants to say hello and ask where I’m from and is curious about what I think about Pakistan. They want me to know that Islam is peace and love and that I am accepted just the way I am. I’ve been gifted many things now by the people and families I stay with and been given the highest attention and hospitality, even if they don’t have much to give. They make sure I’m happy. They give with their whole hearts. So many beautiful connections & heartfelt moments, I have truly fallen in love with the people in Pakistan.”
For her, to travel is to learn the culture as much as possible, including the language. Only by understanding the language someone can have a big connection with the locals. Her message to everyone who would love to travel is, “things work completely different in other cultures and you need to be understanding and respectful of others’ ways. It’s not that it’s a “wrong way” of doing things, it’s just that it’s different. One needs to be respectful and try to adjust. And that’s the beauty of traveling and exploring other cultures. To learn, get inspired by, and be humbled by the ways of others. To be gracious, accepting and tolerant of another way.”
Although Pakistan is an Islamic Republic and the locals are curious whether Rosie is a Muslim or not, her response is always “with my hand on my heart, and one finger pointed to the sky, I said, “Aik Allah” (One God). With the giant smiles on their faces, there is a deep understanding and respect. Islam is about peace, love and equality. And there is a general understanding for Muslims that there is only One God, we just all choose to follow differently. And that’s okay!”.
Indeed to have the understanding of Islam and Muslims are only possible through the meeting with the Muslim community. To be able to learn about others, we should start making a conversation with them too, whether they are Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc. And these are also the messages Rosie loves sharing with her 74 thousand followers on Instagram @rosiegabrielle and 94 thousand followers on her Facebook page, Rosie Gabrielle. She hopes she can inspire the world through story-telling while exploring the world.
“Nothing excites me more, than getting to share all these amazing experiences with you all. So that you may be inspired, gain gratitude, learn something new or just provide you with new perspectives. Traveling opens your mind and teaches you so much, but only if you’re willing to learn.”