14 Countries And Counting

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 there.

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.

2003-08-15 iceland - 65

2003-05-20 peru - 51 20090607  team diabetes easter island marathon - 03 20100719 samba rio

2003-11-29 hong kong - 03

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?


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Buzz

Dad. Broadcaster. Writer. Media Disruptor. Two time Guinness World Record Holder. I run marathons for Team Diabetes.

5 Comments

  1. If you count Canada, I’ve been to 4 different Countries heh
    Canada, US, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica.

    This time next year I’ll be adding: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Bali.

    Depending on how we fly there, we might spend a night in Tokyo, Japan. We’ll see how it goes.

  2. I traveled all over Canada since I was a kid, but I just started exploring Europe this past May : Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Rome, Barcelona, Paris, Budapest, Bratislava and a day in London. So that’s 9 countries, 10 if we include the States. So far so good :)

    Next summer : Poland, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Germany yet again because I just love it! Now if only Croatia wasn’t so far… :(

  3. My son has a mission to visit one country for every year of his age. He is 13 now, and a bit disappointed with his tally of 11 countries. His list includes Turkey, Greece, England, Italy, Croatia, Cayman Islands, USA, Mexico, Slovenia, and Dominican Republic… among others.

    Of all of them, we probably enjoyed Croatia the most.

  4. Buzz, you should really look into the Travelers Century Club. They look at the world based on countries, territories, distance from mother country, and finally culture. So while officially there are approximately 196 countries in the world today, the TCC recognizes 320 “countries”. To understand this, when one travels to French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Reunion Island, Mayotte or, Wallis and Futuna, officially you are in France and should count it as a single country (France), but believe me, NONE of these places feels like France. In the same manner, on your trip to Easter Island (I got my first and only tattoo there!), you were in a place SO far removed from the mainland Chile culture it is absurd. As I now get ready to embark on a journey to central Asia in the 5 “Stans” and a visit to the UAE and Oman on the way home, I will finally surpass 100 countries! And NEVER stop looking at that map. I have a lighted globe in my living room, that can steal an hour away from me EASILY if I let it! :-)

    PS: My major beef with the TCC is that they allow a layover in an airport, or even never leaving the plane. KUDOS to you and your wife for making the effort to step out of the airport and at least “see” the country! My personal criteria is to at least interact with the culture outside an airport for a few hours.

    PPS Vatican City DEFINITELY counts!!!!

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