I have a map of the world on the wall of my son’s bedroom. As we read bedtime books, sometimes we’ll stare at the map and pick out places and make up stories about them. Whenever we go on a trip, I’ll point the place out on a map so he knows where Cancun, Toronto, or Whitefish, Montana is.
Tonight, as I stared at the map my eye drifted north – to Franz Josef Land
. It’s a crazy Russian
archipelago in the arctic. North of nowhere is the best way I can describe it, yet my eye is drawn to the place wondering if anyone goes
Then I went south, to try and find a similarly isolated island and I found the Kerguelen Islands – a cold windy French territory in the south of the Indian Ocean that is home to a few scientists and nothing else.
I went around the rest of the globe and stuck mental pins in the places I’ve been. I have 14 stamps in my personal passport (15 in you count Vatican City) and while I think the number is smaller than it should be, I’m happy with it.
My list is eclectic and scattered: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Reykjavik, Iceland. Easter Island, Chile. Marrakech, Morocco. Machu Picchu, Peru. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Hong Kong, China.
That’s some good variety.
My wife and I have a rule whereby a city “counts” if you step outside the airport. According to that rule, she gets to count Iceland on her map as she stepped outside Keflavik Airport on a layover. I also count Santiago, Chile on my list of visited cities for the same reason. I’m thinking that may be a little weak and it should be expanded to “counting” only if you spend the night in the country (and outside the airport).
Whatever your rules are, all the places on this map I’ve spent a night in, my shortest stays being in Kyoto, Japan and Hong Kong, China (both about 23 hours on layovers to and from Thailand).
Where do I want to go to next? Scandinavia. Africa. Australia. More of the UK. Spain. Eastern Europe. The list is as long as their are countries on my map.
A pal of mine just lost her job for the second time in 18 months. The last time she lost her job she spent her severance on the beaches of Belize and Central America racking up passport stamps in pursuit of hitting 60 countries before she turns 60.
I don’t know if I have that in me, but getting to know the planet a little better is always a good thing.
What’s your number?