Nina’s Travel Rule #14: You’re Not a First World Country if I Can’t Flush My Toilet Paper.
If you’ve ever crossed the border over land into Uruguay, you may have noticed an imposing, hilarious and, I thought, somewhat offensive billboard that states: “Uruguay: welcome to the first world”. Now, I would say this is a bad idea for a number of reasons. First off, it’s just not true. I saw this sign at the border crossing coming from Buenos Aires, which is by all accounts a fairly awesome and well-off city (although its people, not to be a judgemental bitch, are the fugliest I’ve ever seen. Ever. I almost vomited). Second, and maybe more importantly, I know that Uruguay and Argentina are still a little pissy with each other and all, but surely this billboard is not the smartest way to encourage tourism? Or like, good neighborly relations and shit? Anywho, this got me thinking about what it actually means to be a “first world” country. You know, other than being able to lay claim to various imperialist pretensions.
It turns out I’m not actually that big a fan of the first world. I like crowds and messes, and vastly prefer Southern Europe to the Northern bit. Give me a good Greek screaming match over a punctual German train any ole’ day. (Allow me to rant for a sec. I fucking hate German trains. Yeah, they’re spotless, and fast, and punctual, and really bloody nice, but like, what the fuck is the point of drinking my delicious German beer in my sparkling German pilsner glass on my punctual German train if I’m to be shushed by some fucking 90-yr-old German bitch every 3 seconds for… whispering? I was waaay too cowed to actually speak, I swear it was a whisper… Anyway).
Just for the record, THIS is what trains should be like. Yes, that is the conductor. Yes, he is smoking in the compartment. and YES, he HAS invited all the foreigners in for a picnic. I brought the raki 🙂
I also like street meat, and that’s a hard thing to do right when you’ve got stupid shit like health codes and inspectors breathing down your neck. I’ve just moved to Australia, and it’s really lovely, I SWEAR, but I also swear that if one more person stops dead in front of me just cause the fucking cross walk sign says stop, I’m going to run them over. I have a god-given right to jaywalk and I enjoy exercising it! Social services, decreased mortality, stable economies, blah blah blah. It’s all real nice n shit, but the first world is just so boring. As a great man once said, “every country that people are fleeing, political, social, whatever reason, THAT is where you’ll be going on your next vacation, I have no doubt.”
He was right. And so with no further ado, here is my official Places I Would be Happy to Visit Checklist (any single criterion met equals eligibility):
Nina’s Top Ten List of Requirements for Entry Into the Third World.
10. Meat from the grocery should be sold while it is still alive. Ex-Morocco.
9. Spitting should be done mainly on other humans. Ex-China.
8. Wine from the store does not necessarily have to come in bottles. 1/2-rinsed-out soda plastic will do just fine. Ex-Greece.
7. Minorities, especially those you have unilaterally annexed, may be shot on sight. Also the death penalty totally works. Ex-SO MANY COUNTRIES.
6. Just because you own a washer does not mean you should also own a dryer. Ex-Bulgaria. Oh, and 1/2 of Australia as well (sorry, Aussie fiance! I love you anyway!).
5. Buses may be for people, but chickens are cool too. And no, they don’t need a crate. Ex-Guatemala.
4. Ex-war zones are cool to use as tourist attractions, as long as you put up a scarily-worded warning sign about how straying off paths will get you decapitated by land mines. Ex-Cambodia. Yes, I know this is mainly my people’s fault, but still.
3. There should be at least one crowd-related murder at a football match per year. Excluding World Cups, in which case it should really be one per game. Ex-Argentina.
2. If desperate, economies may be based almost entirely on fat white tourists purchasing your teenagers as “brides”. Ex-Thailand. Although this one really does gross me out.
and, the very most important requirement of all…
1. Only first world countries possess flush toilets. If yours involves porcelain, it should definitelynot be able to flush toilet paper. Woo!! Uruguay just made it…
I'm an American. I travel the world. These things don't go together, I know. I've finally had enough of my friends telling me to stuff it and write a book, so I've started a blog to vent my tales of disaster. I promise it's all quite true (at least the bits I remember), and I'll do my best to keep the ridiculousness coming... View all posts by offatthewrongstop