One of the things I gave up years ago when my arthritis forced me to alter my lifestyle was travel. At first I can’t say that I missed it much since I mostly traveled for work and, let’s be honest, once you’ve seen a conference room it doesn’t really matter what city you are in. All conference rooms are pretty much the same and if you aren’t ever given the opportunity to get out and explore the city that conference room is in, what’s the point? However, after a year or so of legs being firmly planted on the ground I found myself fondly looking at airplanes and wondering what wonderful adventures those lucky travelers were embarking on. (They were always leaving on a new journey in my daydreams.)
As I look to my future with a new prosthetic leg, I would like to think that I’d be one of those over-achievers who learns to rock climb and travels to all sorts of exotic places. But the truth is I really have more homebody ambitions for myself. I would like to jog again; although I’ll hate the actual act of jogging. And I want to write, of course! But I believe that travel will always remain one of those things that I dream about. Not like an ambition that never comes true, but I’d like to dream about travel as a hobby. Learn about a new country and their culture without having to actually go there. Certainly with the World Wide Web and social media I can discover the world at my fingers tips. What is all this technology for, if not to make the world a smaller, closer place?
With this in mind, I’ve decided to study a country a month. Learn something about that country. Find someone online to talk with from that country. What are their worries? How is their economy doing? What do they watch on TV? What kind of music are the kids listening to these days? What do they hope for the future?
Do you think that is possible?
To start, I thought I would just learn how many countries there are in the world. You’d think that was a simple question, but it turns out not to be so simple. I believe that the World Atlas has a good explanation of why this is not so simple a task; and it isn’t just the obvious answer that the world is always changing borders, etc. Think about England, Scotland, and Wales. Do you count those as individual countries or do you count the United Kingdom as one country? Opinions vary. There are other examples much more complicated. For me, I’m going to use the World Atlas as my definitive source; they have good maps and provide a nice list of the world countries and their capitals. That seems a good place to start in my Virtual World Tour.
The World Atlas lists 193 countries, using a random number generator my first stop is: