Summer vacations are great. Everyone loves them, and these days, vacationing destinations are tailored for family-oriented fun and frolics. Holiday getaways are packaged and designed as much for kids as for adults. The last thing we, at The Spoof, want is for you to be confronted by are a bunch of bat-shit crazies brandishing assault rifles or machetes while you're being a beached whale - laying alongside an ocean in the sun. Or just sightseeing and hoofing it around strange cities where everyone looks quite odd and squawks in gobbly gook; dining on strange, wonderful, cryptic foods (hoping the grub's not insects, bats, or rats); or bird watching through binoculars, focusing in on animals that don't look bird-like at all. No, they look a lot more like monkeys and gophers with beaks and wings.
Looking back, it would have probably been a lot easier to put together a list of countries that are safe to visit than to list those that are disease-ridden, hostile, and violent. But being very negative here was a call of duty: It would be the pits to not find a good burger place in a foreign land, for example, only to find there isn't any food in the entire country, so ordering a burger and fries are as impossible as finding a good pizza joint in north-east Florida.
I was criticized in a comedy workshop by a moderator who wrote: "...anyone knows never to vacation in these places...Tell me how Maui is becoming a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Reveal the horrifying underbellies of paces that are actually thought of as idyllic vacation spots." Honestly, this keen-eyed editor made a lot of sense, and yes, she may indeed be right - this long travelogue may indeed be a pointless waste of time. But in my own defense, I will say: The world's become such a violent, terrible, turbulent place that many just don't know what lurks beyond our borders. If I can save a mere handful of poor sots from doom and destruction, I will feel about the same as Moses after he parted the Red Sea, right before leading his people out of the grips of those devil dogs!
So it was my call of duty send this to The Spoof on the 3rd of July, just out of my own patriotism. I've even dusted off and posted my USA banner for this little ditty - with the article capping out at more than 3,500 words (and still counting).
Keep in mind that these twelve countries listed do not in any way comprise a comprehensive list. There are so many nasty, vile, abominable countries for Americans, Canadians, and those who live in the U.K. to visit that space doesn't allow for a more detailed list. Of course, the USA's constant role of being the police department for the world makes Americans hated a lot more than other English-speaking western civilizations.
And who wants to read a Gone With the Wind of Gun-Toting Radicals, Diseases Gone Wild, and Don't You Even Think About Coming Here!!! sort of story, anyhow? And neither is it prioritized, such as from worst-of-the-worst to least-of-the-worst. In all fairness, vacationing anywhere on this list would be like asking if you'd rather be attacked by a polar bear or a Bengal tiger. Anyhow, here are some of the nastiest of all the nasty countries for westerners to stay out of this summer, unless you want to commit suicide and are too cowardly to do the deal yourself -
1) India and Pakistan: This is a very hostile land and for all matters of appraisal, India and Pakistan might be two separate countries, but in the area of total societal collapse, bombastic bedlam, and voracious violence, these neighboring countries of contiguous landmass are one and the same. They should be avoided as you would stay clear of a snapping, snarling, rabid pit-bull. Ensnared in religious fanaticism and sectarian violence, Pakistan is a powder keg. Terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and the Tehriki-i-Taliban have taken a strong foothold here. Chances are, these lunatics won't even say: "We don't like your kind here, so get out!" No, they'll most likely shoot and ask questions later. The wild west was tame and lame compared to modern-day Pakistan. The only real differentiating factor between Pakistan and India is that Pakistan is connected to the north with Afghanistan while India is connected to its north by China. Terrorism is widespread and rampant in India, like Pakistan, and to compound matters, poverty, corruption, malnutrition, and inadequate public healthcare abound in India. Licentiously rich Mughlai cuisine and the exotic Naan and rotis must be experienced first-hand, but you can always go to the Indian restaurant down the street when you get home from your holiday in Lost Wages, oh, I mean Las Vegas. Indian cuisine is Indian cuisine, after all, and the magical go-to spice for any Indian dish is curry - and I'm including even the desserts. So if you visit India and find yourself deathly ill after eating a chicken that was infested with salmonella, smallpox, diphtheria, rubella, botulism and typhoid, and you're medically treated in a telemarketing boiler room or on a cluttered busy street laying under an emaciated brahma bull, I hope you remember you were forewarned. It would be nice to visit India, the believed birthplace of humankind's oldest civilization. And who doesn't want to see the Taj Mahal? But you want to return home after your vacation, don't you? Going to India or Pakistan is about the same as picking up a phantom hitchhiker along the highway - there's a chance that you'll never be seen or heard from again.
2) Yemen: Everyone loves to lunch, brunch and munch during summertime vacations, but if you find yourself in Yemen and you want to have dinner, chances are you won't, simply because there is no food in this depraved, deranged, horrible place. Yemen is in the midst of an abominable humanitarian crisis and conflict-related abuse is at the root of most of the problems. Legally sanctioned discrimination against women and judicial executions of child offenders are commonplace in this weird, zombie-ized freak-fest. And ISIS is on the march, and they're coming to any Middle Eastern country where you vacation, even those fairly far away from Iraq and Syria. The spread of ISIS is like a manure spreader pulled by a John Deere tractor with a '1970-something's muscle-car's cam, headers, and turbo-charged carburetor. An indigenous, Middle-Eastern redneck doesn't have a job, has a proclivity for blowing up oil refineries, and drives an old pickup truck. His sole possessions are a collection of automatic and semi-automatic weapons, a few grenade-launchers, and an attire of Kevlar vests. He doesn't have a girlfriend because he killed his last three girlfriends for being "heretics" and the only one who escaped his evil grasp is trying to find her way to Ellis Island via Lebanon. You might even think Yemen is inoccuous. "Yemen rhymes with lemon. How bad can it be?" Well, think of a hand grenade disguised as a lemon and you have the real picture.
3) Egypt: Full of ancient mystique and splendor, Egypt is one of the most enchanting countries in the world. All western parents would love to have their children see the Sphinx or the Egyptian pyramids. And swimming buffs would jump at the chance to scuba dive in the Red Sea, one of the best places in the world to take in breathtaking underwater sights. But if you visit Egypt this summer, you might find a pressure cooker of political anger and turbulence. Since 2012, tens of thousands of Egyptians have been protesting against President Mohammed Morsi, now ousted and sentenced to death for his role in a mass prison break during the 2011 revolution. Throngs of Egyptians did not like the fact that Morsi gave himself unlimited powers to do whatever the hell he wanted to do, whenever the hell he wanted to do it. Clashes between Morsi's supporters and Morsi's opponents were common and ongoing for years. So if you find yourself in the midst of some crazy backstreet breakdown - some after-party of Morsi's own demise of an after-party - where tear gas, Molotov cocktails and gunfire are popping and hissing at every corner and crevice, maybe you would have wished, right then, that you'd picked West Virginia's scenic Appalachian Mountains as your destination, instead. And don't wear your necklace with a crucifix around town in Egypt. There's an ongoing Coptic Christian persecution here. Things will surely turn ugly if some of these fanatical rednecks see this insignia of your faith. Keep your head on your shoulders and smiling and saying "You're my brother from another mother" will surely get you chased down the street by an angry mob and bludgeoned with big, hard, horrid, hammer-like things. Stay the hell out of Egypt this summer. Actually, stay out of this place for the next two millennia.
4) Mexico: Hey, it's close, that's why Mexico is so alluring to Americans and Canadians. But it's as violent as a Cohn Brothers movie and then some….The flourishing drug trade is the main culprit making Mexico an evil twin to the United States. It's a shame, too, since Mexico has idyllic beaches and its cost of living is so low that tourist dollars go a long way here. But the politics are so corrupt that if you need a cop because you end up in some kind of jam in Acapulco, you might just get a drug lord with a funky-looking badge. Sure, he may seem friendly enough, but he might just arrest you and the kids for some ridiculous, trumped-up charge just to pilfer your vacation bounty. And by the time your tweens get out of jail, they could be balding and middle-aged, without teeth or fingers. It's hard to tell who are the good guys and the bad guys in Mexico right now. In the last five years, there have been 47,000 drug-related murders in Mexico. Although I use hyperbole a lot in my stories, this is an actual figure. It sound preposterous, but it's right on the mark.
5) Iraq and Afghanistan: These two countries don't even need to be listed. Anyone who has watched fifteen minutes of primetime or cable news during the past decade - on any news channel - knows that Iraq and Afghanistan are as hostile as they come for anyone speaking English and carrying an American passport. Grouped together here because they were the U.S. Military's latest wartime ventures, make sure you have your life insurance policies in good order before vacationing to Iraq or Afghanistan. Even American soldiers don't want to return to either of these hellholes. Take the heed of these fine young people - our finest - and vacation elsewhere. Go to the Alps and scale the Matterhorn, even if you have no mountain-climbing experience. It would be safer than visiting Iraq or Afghanistan. And let's not forget that little problem - the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Iraq isn't listed in this bloodthirsty vampire of a movement for no reason at all - Iraq is at the bulls-eye of the target. You'd have a better chance of surviving on Venus, breathing in toxic carbon dioxide in the 900-degree Fahrenheit heat than sweating it out in this scorpion-infested desert right now.
6) Syria: Are you serious? You've got to be kidding! You're considering vacationing in Syria this summer? Why not just go down to your local paint-ball gun range and instead of using paint-ball guns, use AR-15s and Uzis instead? Ground zero for ISIS extremists right now, Syria's about the most hostile place on earth for an American to be. To reiterate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) didn't get its name by happenstance. And it certainly isn't any good-ship-lollipop for westerners. If you are really intent on suicide by Muslim extremist, however, this might be just the spot to hit.
7) Ukraine and Russia: The unrest in the Ukraine began during the winter of 2014 and really hasn't stopped, except for a few cease fires and truces. On the recent anniversary of the Russian annexation of Crimea, just this spring, residents of the peninsula came out on the streets to celebrate waving flags, cheering and clapping. There was music and dancing. Of course, these good times never seem to last long in the Ukraine. The run-of-the-mill day of the past few years includes bombs bursting in air and the rockets red glare. What began as protests in Donetsk and Luhansk just a few years ago later took the form of all-out separatist insurgencies. Yes, the Russian bread-basket has become a boiling pressure cooker. The political climate changes as quickly and drastically as the atmosphere, in these days of climate change. One day everyone's cheering in jubilation and the next, bullets and bombs are going off all over the place. And Russia? It has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Human trafficking, drug trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire, extortion and fraud make it a great place to be if you'd like to actually live out what you've seen on DVDs or the silver screen as 'suspense thrillers.' It might be better to take your vacation in the Big Apple - go chow down on some real New York pizza and don't travel to Mother Russia. But I love those Russian girls. They're beautiful! Well, Sonny Boy, that fox with the long blonde hair and long legs that winked at you has a fiancé in the Russian mafia. And they're about as hospitable as cottonmouths in the Louisiana swamps. They're planning to kidnap you, have you undergo a sex change, and send you to Siberia where you'll become an exotic dancer in some Rusky gin mill. Also, if this winter's cold really had you shivering, you might not want to visit Oymyakon, Russia, deep in the heart of Siberia, one of the coldest places in the world, with temperatures nearing triple-digit numbers below zero. Summer's here are gone in a blink of an eye, so anytime you arrive, it will most likely be snowing, freezing, and blowing like all get out. Brrrrrrr! And the days are long - months and months long, and guess what? So are those freezing Oymyakon nights! Did you see that doghouse-like saloon on the outskirts of Oymyakon? That's where your Russian girl and her beau want to send you after your sex change.
8) North Korea: Topping the charts perennially for having one of the world's worst overall records in the area of human rights, North Korea is no place to visit. But if you happen to land here, find a closet and hide for the duration of your stay. And don't breath too loud and for chrissakes - turn off your cell phone - so one or two of those fifty-zillion nutcase North Korean police don't suspect you're hiding and snag you. That way, the third Supreme Ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, might miss your presence in his batshit-crazy country. Watching 100,000 men and women marching in unison like Clydesdale horses isn't all that important, is it? You'll most likely think you're on hallucinogenic drugs. Arbitrary detention and torture are commonplace in North Korea, but if you're a golfer, you might want to visit the homeland of the greatest golfer who ever lived - Kim Jong-un's deceased father, Kim Jong-il, the second Supreme Ruler of this NoMan'sLand. Although he only played golf once in his lifetime, Kim Jong-il scored a hole-in-one on all 18 holes. Anyone who disputed, or still disputes, this factual tidbit of Kim Jong-il's greatness has been, and most likely will still be, expeditiously executed.
9) Mongolia: Summertime is fun time in Mongolia. And if you happen to have an insatiable appetite as a spectator of athletic events, Mongolians country-wide - from the biggest cities to the smallest towns - participate in athletic challenges that they call Naadam. This involves wrestling, archery, horse racing, and "the three games of men," which nobody has ever figured out, even Mongolians. But watch where you sit while taking in these games - Mongolians don't like foreign visitors and this country ranks very high on the list of the world's lands that just don't take too kindly to your kind - foreign tourists, in other words. And any "Just the facts mam" explanation of your presence might be answered with a few hard smashes of a Mongolian ball-peen hammer, which has sharp points at both ends of the killing tool. Please be forewarned, too, that one of world history's least warm-and-fuzzy guys, Genghis Khan, was a Mongolian. Go for a row down one of the Ohio River Watershed's most polluted of tributaries. Fishing for waterlogged derelict tires and swimming around in a toxic mix of petroleum and methane will be a big improvement over being a horse racing spectator in Ulaanbaatar or watching big, fat, Mongolian women wrestle in Erdenet.
10) Ethiopia, Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, and hell, just throw in all the rest of Africa, too: About the only safe sort of vacation in Africa is to visit the Serengeti and follow a pride of lions around. They're more likely to be much more amenable than the pickpockets, Al-Shabaab terrorists, corrupt local police and politicians, and emaciated animals of all kinds, shapes, and sizes you'll run into here. Extreme poverty, civil wars, terrorism, horrible diseases - many of which have no cure, like Ebola - and governments so corrupt they make Latin American countries look squeaky clean, make nearly all of Africa really nasty. And there's a quadruple hex in Nigeria and Somalia. Do the research yourself, but keep the light on if you do the nasties at night. Africa's a veritable horror story. Actually, it's a very sad tragedy and if one continent needs a world-full of humanitarian aid, it's Africa. And keep in mind, Africa is a continent, not a country, and it's a huge continent. There are many countries in Africa that are in severe distress, turbulence, and a manmade state-of-nature so violent that even the animal kingdom would shudder about its ugliness, even river crocs, lions and tigers. Also, the country's names and their borders change in Africa as quickly as the bones in a domino game. That's because of the continent's overall instability, unrest, and political corruption.
11) Honduras, Columbia, Venezuela, ah hell, just throw in about all of Central and South America, as well: Beautiful beaches and a tropical paradise behold the eyes of anyone visiting Honduras, but it's a hazardous place. In a country intent on the wonders and glories of revolution, many foreigners witness violence at its fiercest here. And diseases that go along with the tropics - like malaria - are a common souvenir for those returning home. Meantime, Caracas, Venezuela, has topped the list of one of the world's murder capitals for a long time now, and several reports have indicated that it's easier and more common to be killed in Caracas than in Baghdad. In 2013, 20,000 people were murdered in Caracas and in 2014, 24,000 were killed. An unbelievable death rate of 12 percent due to murder would keep anyone interested in self-preservation - and would keep them at least a good hemisphere away from this bloodthirsty place. Meantime, Colombia and all of Central America are violent places run by drug czars, organized and disorganized criminals, and swarms of mosquitos carrying blood diseases. So if you've had two years of college Spanish and four years of high school Spanish and your teachers all told you to visit a country that has Spanish as a Mother tongue, vacation in Southern California instead of Latin America. You'll most likely find a more gracious, kind, and friendly Spanish-speaking community of people in L.A. And these days, you can find Spanish-speaking people in almost any major city in the United States - or for that matter, even medium-sized metropolises like Wichita, Duluth, Boise, or Akron would be good places to chat in Espanol.
12) The United States and Canada: Yes, even these North American countries must be listed. These days, you've got to do a lot of research, online, and by word-of-mouth, to find good, safe, secure places to visit, even in your homeland. Drugs, gangs, senseless violence, mean-spirited and violent police, and hostile neighborhoods should not be part of your vacation. And even some little cities and towns throughout the country have a tendency of not being too friendly to certain ethnicities and races. Do your homework before you leave home and don't go to places where you might find trouble or trouble may find you. You don't have to be a peace ambassador, after all, and a diplomatic trip is not in order. Just keep it simple - come back home with a lot of great memories, a few souvenirs, and maybe, a dark tan. Pound for pound, the United States and Canada are by far the safest and cheapest places for any North American to visit, however, and there's something really good about discovering wonders and glories of your own backyard, or your next-states'-over's backyard.
Happy travels and God speed!