Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Travelers have a tendency to compete. Amid the storytelling, the you-won't-believe-thisiness of the conversations, there's an underlying scorekeeping. Imagine miniature gargoyles flipping scorecards up and up and up like at a high school volleyball match. Invited for tea at the lamasery in Nepal? Score for you! Unexpected alpaca shearing festival in the altiplano of Peru? Points! World's biggest fishfry in Camogli, Italy? half a point (Italy's too trodden, and the fishfry is in the guidebook.)

There's things you'd like to win at. Most fortuitous, most genuine, most unique, most obscure, most unexpected, best photo. Then there's categories you'd just as soon avoid: worst experience with health care in another country, worst injury, most scathing tonguelashing by a religious figure, most times relieved of your posessions. (though I've met my share of people who tell their near-death experiences with relish, experience dictates that this is an after-the-fact spin, and the during portion of the experience is just as pants-peeing for them as it would be for any human).

There's a part of me that tries to stay out of the competition. How I feel about my travels is so much more important than how some stranger at a party feels about where I've been and what I've experienced. But the moral high road is lonely, and I'm only human.

So I present to you: the smallest, least convincing airport. Port Howard, Falkland Islands.


Anonymous said...

So true, and great piece. So funny too!! Look forward to reading more of your writing. You capture Chile in a unique way. Thanks.

Sharon said...

You should have seen the old airport in my city. It was nothing but a big hangar. And it was international to boot.

Eileen said...

Mainly I just like the sign. I have flown into airstrips that were just mowed sections in the grass, or no-weed sections of a pasture. But I like that this one calls itself an airport. Got a sign, must be true!