I've now posted photos from both Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Lisbon to my flickr pages.  

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I had no preconceived notions about Lisbon before visiting, other than that I've heard more from a tourist perspective about Portuguese cities like Porto.  Lisbon, though, seems like it has a lot to offer.  On Friday evening, I had the chance to walk around the whole Expo 98 area, ride the Elevador de Santa Justa  in the old city, and even visit a packed shopping mall where the stores are open until midnight.  It was a city that totally impressed me -- the architecture, both old and new, is impressive, and people were friendly and seemed to be enjoying life.

And after a very interesting nine days on the road, life is what I'm thinking about today.  In my first stop on this trip, I visited a land that most know from biblical study or modern conflict headlines.  What I hadn't thought about until this week is how many individual decisions are required to make that place -- and all places in the world -- work.  Governments are a part, but ultimately the people who have emigrated to Israel in the last 100+ years had to fill most of the different societal jobs and roles there -- from CEOs to taxi drivers.  Somehow in this world, there are enough diverse interests for people to be doctors, lawyers, farmers, manufacturers, cooks, engineers, and everything else.  There's no predetermined fate, and no guarantees.  Many are impoverished and some are wealthy. Some are leaders, some are followers, and some just try to get by.  The uniqueness of each individual's life -- where we don't all like vanilla ice cream -- is just amazing, when you think about it.  I don't know how it happens that everyone is unique.  I just know that, after visiting my 50th country, variety -- and diversity -- is the spice of life.  

Thank you to all for indulging me this week as I strayed outside the bounds of "Ed Brill -- Notes guy".  Thank you also to new friends and old who enriched this week's travels.  See you again.

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