Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Oh, the Arctic Places You'll Go

Facebook has been introducing all these applications which you can add to your profile, including the 'Anonymous Comments' feature ('Hey! Your face looks like a butt, buttface!' and you'll never know who sent it to you) and a slide show of your favorite works of Art. However, I find fascinating the 'Where I've Been' application, which includes a feature to let your friends know what countries and states you've traveled to, lived in, and where you'd like to go. I was amused for a good chunk of time clicking on the countries I wanted to visit, and the selecting the piddly number of U.S. states I've seen (I haven't traveled west of Cleveland, OH save for a vacation to Hawaii!) but pleased that I've visited the little country like Monaco. It looks just like this vintage poster here, with it's fancy speeding race cars and population: 5 gazillionaires, 5,000 perfect palm trees.
But I wanted more than just clicking on every single Scandinavian country and desiring to go there, and my wants were satiated when I discovered that you can click on remote and scantly-populated countries, and you can even zoom in on tiny islands! Here is a sampling of where I'd like to go, proving that I will one day become the 6th gazillionaire of Monaco and be able to get myself to these locations via sumptuous-yet- earth-friendly transportation. Any travel companions?

In no particular order:

Svalbard. Archipelago of islands North of Norway. 2004 population: 2,765.
I'd like to visit here for the incredible-looking Arctic flowers that bloom and to see the wild polar bears roam about (they have "Polarbear Crossing" signs on the trails). There's a couple small towns, and a 'capital city' but no roads connect them. I'm most fascinated by Svalbard, however, by the Norwegian government which is currently building a "doomsday" seed depository there...in other words, a huge cement vault which will store as many seeds of plants in the world as possible, to secure future crops from the dangers of global warming or, oops, nuclear war. The tunnel will be built 120 meters into the rock (permafrost, of course) and have security guards protecting the doors.

Okay. So perhaps I won't be able to be a tourist to the Doomsday Seed Depository Museum any time soon. But who wouldn't want to play with these happy little creatures that just hopped out of the Norwegian Sea? So chilly! They look hungry, I'll give them some fish to eat!...Why aren't you eating? Oh, you're blocks of ice.


Next stop: Easter Island. Kind of a given.
2002 Population: 3,791.
It's kind of cliché by now, but I still think it's cool.
This island, between Chile and Tahiti in the Pacific Ocean, has too many tourists as it is for the fragile state of the island, but I still want to see all these stone heads. Maybe they'll whisper to me secrets like, how can I stand still for long periods of time and not fidget? Or, how can I find a man with a good head on his shoulders, a good strong chin? I bet these guys would tell it like it is.
Easter Island also has an ancient script, a writing called 'Rongorongo', which could be a form of writing that has had no outside influence. That's pretty amazing. I think everything I do, say, act, dress, write, listen to is taken or adapted from somewhere else. I can't imaging coming up with my own written language. 'Course, nobody can agree on if it's even writing at all, as no scientist has been able to translate, so the point is probably moot. I can see those ancient stone people now, coming up with clever ways to amuse themselves by thinking, 'boy, people in the future are sure going to go nuts when they see this!' (scribble scribble).

A brief hop over to Yap.
2003 population: 6,300 (this is the most densely-inhabited place so far.)
Part of Micronesia, Yap uses stone money! Here's an 8-feet-tall stone 'coin' of great wealth. I'm not making this up. The smallest money items are three inches tall, and everything is disk-shaped. Lately, though the stone money is still viewed as real and valuable currency, the U.S. dollar is used for every-day purchases, and that really disappoints me.
Of course, as a picker-upper for having to deal with silly U.S. dollars, you can also frolic with giant swarms of manta rays that gather around Yap. But watch out or you might Irwin yourself.
(Aside: I'd really like this photo caption to read: 'Giant Crusty Donut Still Munched on By Local Wildlife'. But I can't compete with 8-foot tall stone money.)

I'll discuss briefly the Faroe Islands. With a population of over 48,000, this collection of islands delegated by Denmark is practically a megalopolis compared to Yap or Svalbard.
Highlights include a beautiful colorful capital city, Tórshavn (see left), and inter-island transportation, which used to be mainly by boat or helicopter, but now one can commute by fabulous underwater tunnels.
The music scene here also thrives, though many young people move to Denmark after high school. However, several indie bands, folk musicians, and composers have come from the Faroes! I have only been fortunate enough to come across Teitur, but that's at least one.
As far as delicacies go, I don't suggest you accompany me on this trip unless you like mutton and whale meat. I'm still on the fence about the whales.

Our last stop will be one that I haven't visited, but I've heard a lot about. It's pretty remote as far as I can tell. We're going to visit the mysterious island of Long. Now the 'Long Island' as it has been called by the Natives, is heavily populated with indigenous people who have created their own dialect, often untranslatable by people who live relatively close on the Isle of the Manhattan. Long Islanders often wear big dangly earrings and tacky accoutrements, and place values on family, hard work, and densely-populated dwellings. I don't know if I really want to visit this Island of Long, but seeing how we've been flying around the world, we might as well stop in for some of the local 'cwawfee', don'cha think?

1 comment:

kh said...

golly gee, i have jet lag after reading this!! fab as always.