Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Traveling in Shithole Countries

The Philippines - My 120th Country Visited

Recently the child occupying the White House in Washington DC disrespected a large number of countries (all of them non-white) when he referred to them as "Shithole Countries."  Apparently the man-child believes countries and the people in them have no value and aren't worthy of his lofty ego unless they are filthy rich and white like him. As he disrespected those nation's he asked why more people from Norway don't move to the United States.

I recently traveled to the Philippines.  When we landed in Cebu, the Philippines became the 120th country I have visited. With the exception of Canada (eh), Japan, China, Israel, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and each of the 32 countries I’ve visited in Europe (although a couple of them are sketchy!), the bulk of the countries on my visit list would be considered “Shithole Countries” by Donald tRump. The Philippines are no exception

The main thing I have learned from all this travel is that the kindest, most giving and unassuming people on the planet are those who come from “Shithole Countries.”

Consider the man in the lowlands of Veracruz Mexico, who took me in on Christmas Eve when my car broke down in front of his family’s thatched-roof hut along a river. I had more money in my wallet than this man saw in a year yet his family fed me, sheltered me, and even made a handmade Christmas gift for me so I didn’t feel left out of their humble Christmas celebration

Or consider the store owner in Thailand who chased the customers from her store, locked the doors, and then led me on her motor scooter for 40 kilometers (24 miles) one way to the Bangkok Motorway when I had become horribly lost and could not read road signs written in Thai script. Then when I offered her the equivalent of $10 US for her time she felt offended that I even offered.

Or the man in Oman on the Arabian Peninsula who called me his brother and made me some Arabic coffee to share with him simply because I tried to speak to him in my rustic Arabic instead of insisting on him speaking English to me.

Or the gargantuan man in South Africa who lifted me off my feet and swirled me around like a piece of paper when I told him I wanted South Africa to win the Rugby World Cup. “You’re American and you care about South Africa?”, he asked before spinning me around

There are many other examples, including all of the kindness Cathy and I experienced in this crushingly beautiful and impoverished nation in the Pacific. Curiously on the first of our two return flights from the Philippines I talked with an Emirates Airlines pilot who was from Norway.  I asked him about tRump's shithole comment and about his wish for more Norwegian's to move to the United States.

The pilot laughed and said, "Why on earth would anyone from Norway want to move to a country like yours with its shithole president?"  I couldn't agree more.

As far as I’m concerned I’ll take a “Shithole Country” and the people in it any day.