You can see where we’re going on this trip if you click on “2017-18 Itinerary” up there on the navigation bar at the top of the page.
(By the way, don’t you love the name of the capital of Madagascar? Antananarivo. Say it out loud. It rolls off the tongue. It’s mellifluous. It just plain feels good to say, doesn’t it?)
But even more interesting than where we’re going are the places we’re not going. And the reasons why.
St Helena – A small, isolated island in the South Atlantic to which the British exiled Napoleon. He died there, probably the victim of the dastardly Brits’ arsenic. I wanted to see Napoleon’s home. Jamie wanted to sample the world’s most expensive coffee. And we both wanted to see Jonathan, a huge Seychelles tortoise who at 185 years of age is the world’s oldest living land animal.
Why aren’t we going? St Helena has always been pretty inaccessible, so the government spent many tens of millions of British pounds to build an airport that was supposed to connect them to the outside world. Unfortunately, someone neglected to check wind shear at the site prior to the commencement of construction. In other words, St Helena now has a lovely airport, but it’s impossible to land a plane there.
Oh, well, another time.
Angel Falls and the Catatumbo Lightning, Venezuela – Two of the world’s little known, but most incredible natural wonders, can be found in Venezuela.
Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall, drops 3,212 feet from the top of an escarpment to the jungle floor. To put that in perspective, it’s seventeen times taller than Niagara Falls.
The Catatumbo Lightning is the result of a very localized weather system that can only be seen where the Catatumbo River empties into Lake Maracaibo. That’s where the world’s most intense lightning storm rages for more than 260 nights per year. As many as 280 lightning strikes per hour light up the sky for ten hours each night.
Why aren’t we going? Former British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher is famous for saying, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” In case you doubt the wisdom of Thatcher’s words, look no further than Venezuela. The country sits on the world’s largest oil reserves — even larger than those of Saudi Arabia — yet cannot pay its bills. The country is bankrupt, inflation has destroyed its monetary system, its people are destitute, and it was recently named the most dangerous place in the world.
If you don’t mind, we’ll pass for right now.