Leaving On A Jet Plane

It was someone sending tweets from Brazil just now that got me thinking, probably encouraged by his smug attitude about being in Rio at his reluctant employer’s expense when the rest of us aren’t, that I’ve never been South of the Equator. In fact, I thought to myself, the farthest South I’ve ever been must be, I don’t know, Greece I suppose. Let me look at a map.

Yeah, the Pelopennese is surprisingly far South, parallel with Aleppo in Northern Syria. That marks my furthest travel South in Europe, but I checked across the Atlantic just to be sure, and found that the USA is a lot further South than I expected. Florida, the most Southerly state I’ve visited, is about the same latitude as Pakistan or Northern India. Vero Beach, home of Piper Aircraft, looks like the limits of wanderings there, just down the coast from Cape Kennedy. It’s as far South as Jaipur in Rajasthan.

I do have cold blood, so going North has never been an attraction. I’ve never had the urge to visit Scandinavia or Iceland, attractive as they look. I do remember seeing the glaciers of Greenland right below on a transatlantic flight. Does that count? No, I suppose not. In that case, I’m going to have to set the Northernmost limit of my global travels at Stirling. I once got on the wrong train out of Edinburgh and found myself on the way to Stirling instead of Glasgow.

The term “global travels” was a joke. This whole exercise has made me realise how little of the world I’ve seen. Furthest West would be San Francisco and furthest East the Black Sea coast North of Varna, Bulgaria. They’re 150 degrees of longitude apart, not even half the Earth. But, obviously, I haven’t seen the vast majority of places even between my maximums.

In fact, let’s be honest, I haven’t seen the vast majority of the places between, say, home and Belfast, a half-hour car journey that I make a couple of times a week. I’m not saying that there are necessarily places I’d want to stop and visit in between, but you never know. If I had to walk it, I’d see more.

That’s the real origin of the popular concept that the “world is getting smaller”. It’s not getting smaller, we’re just ignoring more and more of it by travelling quickly to the popular places. Actually, the world is a very big place, and we don’t know it at all.

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