“…there ought to be one place you thought about and knew about and maybe longed for –but never did get to see,” mused Alice Munro, the great Canadian writer. When I read this late last night, my mind went crazy. I quickly had 3 categories: places I’d like to see but probably won’t, places I’ve never been to but might yet see, and places that I’m still surprised I’ve been to.
I once asked Michael, the most traveled person I know, what his favorite destination was and he said Bhutan. At the time I knew nothing about this Himalayan country, the Switzerland of Asia, that’s north of Bangladesh and east of Nepal. Michael told me that it was the world’s first totally non-smoking country and that you could only get in with a group, which I later found out wasn’t true because I bought a book about Bhutan. However, I read only enough to judge it mind-bendingly exotic. After reading “Relations with Cooch Behar”, I put the book aside. That was years ago.
In the past couple of months Mauritius has gained my attention. I bought a travel book about it and read every word. Like Bhutan, it’s exotic and remote, out there somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. A couple of travelers have told me it’s very expensive to get to and tour.
After falling in love with the Baltic countries, Ruth & I longed to visit Ukraine. Over the last couple of years I’ve sought out people from there and asked, “Is this a good time to go?” They all said to wait. And now it truly qualifies as one of the world’s major hotspots.
We decided to travel to El Salvador with our friend Don and his Spanish speaking wife Nettie, a native of Belize. Shortly after planning began, Don was murdered in his wife’s country. Alone in the new house he had built for them up in the mountains near the Guatamalan border, Don was killed for his cell phone, probably by drug dealers. No one was brought to justice even though his phone was quickly traced.
There are 3 destinations of great personal interest that I still haven’t been to but might yet see. Nunavut, the Canadian Territory that was created in 1999 when the Northwest Territories was divided, fascinates me. nunavuttourism.com entices with phrases like, “…one of the largest unspoiled natural Paradises on the planet”. This is hype that is probably also true. Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital, has a population of 7,250 and boasts summer temperatures ranging from roughly 40 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Hmmmm.
On the same trip, we could head south to yet unvisited Labrador, which is part of Newfoundland, a sensational travel destination. I study maps and imagine traveling the interconnecting highways between Blanc-Sablon and Baie Comeau, which is not all that far from Gaspé, one of the most beautiful spots in North America.
We listened to a folk singer from the Faroe Islands not too long ago and then read a tourism article that made the Faroes look like a place worth the effort to get to. We did, after all, make it to the memorable Orkneys last year. So….
I’m still surprised we’ve been to The Orkneys, Patagonia, the Yukon Territory, Tahiti, Iceland, and so many other wonderful places. But the world is huge and Alice Munro is both wise and realistic. So many places, so little time.