When I was a kid my mom used to load me up in the car and take me on vacation to exotic locals such as Southern Wyoming and New Mexico. Not that I’m complaining, not really. I realize in my grown-up brain that these seemingly random car trips represented the only possible venue for spring break in my house. As a kid it didn’t occur to me that gas station meals of nachos and strawberry milk eaten in roadside motels wasn’t exactly fine dining. But as an adult, I have come to terms with the fact that these trips were, well, no offense mom, but maybe a little crappy.
In an attempt to broaden my perspective and heighten my appreciation for my mom’s vacations, I did a little research on some real life tourist hellholes. Enjoy.
1. Papua New Guinea: You can go diving, enjoy a variety of cruises wherein you will see the coral reefs, fish for rare and exotic fish, hike along the Kokoda trail while enjoying the breath taking scenery. The only problem you ask? Cannibals. Yes friends, cannibals. According to variety of reputable news sources, Smithsonian being perhaps the most recent, cannibalism is still practiced by the remote tribes that you might just meet along the Kokoda trail or see from the deck of your cruise ship. Here’s a hint though, according to www.bild.com white people taste too salty and smell too strongly. So no matter your ethnicity, my advice before going to Papua New Guinea would be to eat a salt lick and rub yourself in Old Spice.
But venture on brave ones, check them out here: http://www.pngtourism.org.pg/
Here’s that Smithsonian article for the curious: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/cannibals.html
2. Iran. Yes, I said Iran. Ever wanted to visit Chogha Zambil Temple? Bistoon Relief? Ever worry that despite their somewhat vague and not quite as welcoming as it could be web site, they might not like us? Never fear, you can stay at beautiful accommodations such as the…okay, well, maybe no hotels actually show up on their website. Hmmm….I’m sure it’s nice, after all, isn’t Tehran known to be a tourist mecca?
Here’s their address: http://www.tourismiran.ir/en/Index.aspx
3. Juarez Mexico: What’s not to love? No need to fly, you can drive right over the border! Enjoy fine dining, lively nightlife, and authentic music. Why isn’t everyone flocking to Juarez you might ask? It might have something to do with a little something called ‘feminicidios’ which en anglais translates to the mass murder of Mexican women in the Juarez over the last thirteen years that has gone largely unchecked and unsolved. But don’t let that deter you ladies, while the Juarez tourism site acknowledges that they are known as ‘the city of death’ they also want us to know that ‘the whole truth is much more complicated’
But I’ll let you be the judge: http://www.juarez-mexico.com/
4. Baghdad: haven’t you been watching Fox News? It’s totally safe now! In fact, it’s beyond safe, bring the kids, bring the grandparents! You can stay at the beautiful Marble Palace, or the only other listing on the Baghdad tourism site, described only as ‘countryside.’ Dine at the luxurious Maarsgourf Restaurant, get a ringside seat as you see democracy unfold around you, bring a camera.
Here’s the information to make your dream trip come true: http://www.igougo.com/travel_guide-l9515-Baghdad_tourism.html
5. Somalia: yes, I’ve saved the best for last. While Somalia’s one man tourist bureau admits that there hasn’t been a single formally acknowledged tourist in fourteen years in Somalia, largely due to the anarchy and destruction that has wracked the country since 1990, Abdi Jimale Osman, Somalia’s minister of Tourism, wants us to know that “Tourists can still go and see the former beautiful sights,” he says. “The only problem is they’re all totally destroyed.” He also offers up these encouraging words: “I’m sure tourists would leave Somalia alive and I’m hopeful they wouldn’t be kidnapped,” he says. “At least, we would try to make sure they were not kidnapped, although it can happen.” The good news is that you can travel cheap, after all, a grenade only runs you roughly $10 American dollars in Mogadishu, can you imagine how drunk you could get for $5?
But, enough from me, you be the judge: http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2482161
In short, I owe Mom an apology. I thought Cuba, New Mexico was somewhat boring as a seven year old. But, was I kidnapped? Was I made into a stew? Was I sleeping in luxurious accommodations in the hotel ‘countryside’? The answer is no. Sorry mom, I never realized how good I had it.