There are places I need to go. I want to experience the rhythms, the scents, the philosophies. I want to see the mountains, eat the street food, and talk to the elders.
And then there are other places that I don’t want to go. Like New Jersey.
My 11: Where I need to visit, potentially camp out for a few months, or even live. Forever.
No, it’s not because I saw Eat, Pray, Love. The anthropologist in me has always been fascinated with Indonesia, thanks to Clifford Geertz, the Javanese Gamelan, and the Bali Cockfight. Not to mention the view.
If the Lonely Planet says Dharamsala embodies “a cool mountain air and calm serenity,” I’m sold. Plus, I love monks and momos.
Ft. Collins, Colorado
I think I would be satisfied if come 40, I was married, had a few kiddies, managed a nonprofit, and lived in Ft. Collins (as long as my vacation home was in Africa). It’s always rated as the “happiest and most affordable place to live,” and I’ve already been there to see that it is pretty spectacular. It’s close to the Rockies, too, which pretty much seals the deal.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
It’s a valley encompassed by mountains. I can ski, I can hike. There are two national parks. Done, done, done and done.
Deemed the “Pearl of Africa,” Uganda is known for encompassing all-things-African. I want to ride a boda-boda, raft on the Nile, go to the plethora of open-air markets, and eat matoke.
Kolkata (Calcutta), India
“The Paris of the East. ” The colors, the culture. Everything. Kolkata has long been known for its literary, artistic and revolutionary heritage, and as the former capital of India, Kolkata was the birthplace of modern Indian literary and artistic thought. I dig.
Kyoto’s mysticism has always allured me, and I actually seriously looked into studying abroad there. I needed a Japanese language pre-requ though, so instead of taking a Japanese summer language course, I took Japanese Taiko Drumming at Skidmore. Close enough, for now.
The two things I love most: mountains and Africa. This is a no-brainer.
Alright, alright, it’s touristy. I get it. But it’s totally okay. I mean, look at it?
I love rain and all-things West Coast, so Seattle seems quite fitting. Also, I just went on a five-mile run, despite the fact that it’s raining elephants and gorillas. I think I’d adjust just fine.
I sort of have it planned out. After I climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and raise my kids in Colorado, I’ll retire in Vermont, enjoy a diet of maple syrup and cheddar cheese, and breathe my last in the Green Mountains. Not morbid.
My Other 11: Places I don’t want to go: Either for good reason, apathy, or I’m ignorant and stupid
-Baghdad, Iraq: According to the BBC, “In almost any other country, daily violence would be cause for a state of national emergency. In Iraq, it is called progress.” Political rant aside, I don’t really feel like venturing to place where an unstable and stubborn insurgency continues to kill hundreds of people every month.
-Hong Kong, China: I’m not quite sure about this one; I’ve just never had a desire to go to China. I’m sure I’d like it if I went (it is a huge-ass country, there’s gotta be something neat), but for now, I’m completely content tackling the above list.
-Honolulu, Hawaii: I don’t really love the beach, I’m not a huge fan of lei’s, and apparently there are tons of ghosts. I’ll pass.
-Juarez, Texas: You know when you start typing in something in google and it finishes your search for you? I typed in “Juarez, Te-” and immediately “Juarez Texas Violence” came up. This a bad sign. It’s a major center for narcotics trafficking, and over the past 10 years, there have been over 400 feminicides. Not good.
-Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo: The DRC is experiencing our world’s bloodiest war since WWII. It’s absolutely awful and I feel incredibly helpless. I need to help, but right now, I can’t go there.
-Las Vegas, Nevada: Apparently dealing yourself first in a game of cards is a huge no-no. I’d get kicked out of any casino in about four minutes. Aaaand I don’t really like gambling anyway.
-London, England: Is it the fish n chips? Or that I need to look fashionable? Not quite sure why I have no desire to go to London, but I don’t. Want to prove me wrong and buy me a plane ticket? I won’t say no.
-New York, New York: I think we all know why I don’t want to live in New York. It’s expensive, it’s stressful, it’s too fast-paced, too gray, too unfriendly. It’s too much.
-Pheonix, Arizona: Cops in Arizona suck. Immigration laws? Let’s not go there. Why live in Arizona when you could go next door to New Mexico? Looks almost identical, but is way cooler. Taos > Phoenix.
-Sana’a, Yemen: Currently, it’s not safe. And I’m not stupid.
-The Whole Damn State, Florida: I’m sorry Grandma, I love you and I’ll continue to visit a few times a year (you and the Harry Potter Theme Park are my only reasons for going). Aside from that, Florida has absolutely nothing for me. The Villages? Tons of old people? Strip-mall overload? Humidity…all the time? Ehhh.