Category Archives: Foreign Lands

Favelas

I’ve never been to Brazil, though it holds massive appeal to me. There’s a lot to like: rainforest, soccer (they call it futebol), the culture, various meats served on swords. Even the notorious ‘rough’ parts of Brazil seem kind of alluring. Let me explain.

MMMMMMMeat on swords

MMMMMMM sword meat…

I’m always interested to see how ‘the other side’ operates and navigates day-to-day life in any country. Not in an idiot poverty-gawking American sense (Look, Ma! That feller’s peein in the street!). My interest in the world’s ‘wrong sides of the tracks’ isn’t academic, journalistic, do-gooder based, thrill-seeking or scientific. I think it’s mostly just inquisitiveness. It’s also practical.

For one thing, I find that meeting people who look and live different than you do is the spice of life. Also, fancy places are pretty similar the world over. Shopping malls in Chengdu, Cape Town, Calcutta and Columbus are largely indistinguishable. Wealth seems to breed insipidness, as well as the propensity toward being a pompous jerk.

Poor places in general are usually just more interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that there is nothing fun, quaint, exciting or entertaining about poverty. There’s nothing nice about high infant mortality rates and not having access to life’s basic essentials. What I’m trying to say is that whatever country you’re in, it’s usually the poorer areas where you’ll find the most interesting people, the warmest hospitality, the most innovation, the most unique experiences, and the best food.

Getting a sense of how the poor, the forgotten, the feared and reviled, the outcasts and outliers live is always an enlightening experience. How do they survive? What’s their life like? This seems like a good starting point for trying to figure out a country, and understanding the people who make up a country. Continue reading

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under F Commentary, Faith, Film, F Entertainment, Foreign Lands

Fourteen Fresh Foreign Tourism Slogans

Iceland – “Very similar to level 6 on Super Mario 3.”

Bolivia – “Come for the salt flats, stay for the iguana meat salteñas!”

China – “What’s a few more people?”

Croatia – “Do not be intimidated by the crazy spellings.”

England – “Come see yer ol’ mum an’ colonial master guvna.”

Zambia – “So much copper!

Faroe Islands – “We’re Torshavn a ball!”

Papua New Guinea – “We’ll let you name a mountain.”

Indonesia – “Hurry, before the Komodo dragons turn on us.”

Romania – “The bloody lore of Transylvania has been greatly exaggerated.”

Malawi – “Anyone besides Madonna please.”

San Marino – “The leading travel destination for those who were initially just trying to google ‘Dan Marino.’

Greenland – “In life, there are precious few opportunities to see a narwhal!”

Germany – “Bygones?”

9 Comments

Filed under F Lists, Foreign Lands

Flag Facts

We haven’t talked flags in a while, so let’s jump back into some vexillogical discussion.

In our previous flag post we established that the St. Pierre & Miquelon flag reigned supreme as the fairest of them all, and we pointed out some other beauties as well.

The magnifieent flag of St. Pierre & Miquelon.

The magnificent flag of St. Pierre & Miquelon.

Today we’re talking more about decoding flag imagery. While some of the world’s flags are pretty straightforward, many are a bit more coy and need some deciphering.

Pretty straightforward: "We're Guam, we have a beach."

Pretty straightforward: “We’re Guam, we have a beach.”

Bhutan flag featuring Druk the Thunder Dragon.

Bhutan flag featuring Druk the Thunder Dragon.

Bhutan – With absolutely no offense toward the majestic bald eagle, I’m not sure any country has a cooler national representative than the ‘Thunder Dragon.’ Here, we see the mighty Druk, as Thunder Dragon is called, on a yellow and orange background. The orange represents Buddhism while yellow is a nod to the country’s monarchy.

Look a bit closer and you can see that Druk is also clutching some things in his talons here. I thought they were bowling balls or maybe large cherries at first glance, but it turns out they are gems, which represent the country’s wealth. This seems a bit incongruous with Bhutan’s “gross national happiness” policy, but Druk does what Druk wants I suppose.

I also just noticed that the gems could be construed as wheels. In which case Druk looks like a super-aggressive tricycle for the baddest kids on the block. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Flags, Foreign Lands

FINANCIAL OPPORTUNITY

I’ve always thought that one of the greatest tragedies of all these email scams is that they hurt all the dignitaries out there who really do need your assistance regarding a sensitive financial matter. Consider the following…

Greetings Blessed Benefactor,

My name is Barrister John Smyth. I hail from a small village in West Africa and I need your help with a highly sensitive financial matter.

Please do not delete this! Allow me to explain…

I know what you’re thinking, “This sounds like one of those Internet scams originating out of West Africa wherein the scammer promises a large sum of money for a small one-time investment…” etc.

You’re not going to believe this, but I actually am a barrister, I actually did find you through an Internet search, and I actually do need your help to secure a most munificent transfer of funds. What are the odds, am I correct?

Please do not let the misdeeds of others or the astronomical odds of you being selected for this generous, unsolicited financial opportunity taint the integrity of this very important message. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under F Commentary, Foreign Lands

Ferdinand Magellan Fires Up Modern-Day Portugal

Caramba.

Portugal, it’s time for a chat. I’ve just been kind of hanging out, forlornly navigating the nether realms the last 500 years, but enough is enough. Clearly you need a pep talk.

There was a time when Portugal was great. I mean truly big-time. Harlem Shake? Are you kidding me? At one point in the 16th century, a quarter of the earth’s inhabitants were doing the Lisbon Shimmy – provided they had finished their 15-hour shift of brutal forced labor and yielded sufficient production for the day.

It’s time we recapture our glorious heritage. Do you remember what that even entails? Do you remember what I did? Or to a much lesser extent what Vasco da Gama or Henry the Navigator did?

I’ll tell you what I did. I navigated the crap out of planet earth – not so much for myself or my Spanish paymasters – but for you. I captained a ship that circumnavigated the world so future generations of Portuguese meninos e meninas could have what I never got to enjoy.

I didn’t intrepidly sail around the world with a crew of rough men, eating penguin flippers, dodo bird legs and shoe leather; enduring storms, loneliness and unbelievable hardship for my own benefit. I sailed for you.

My parents died by the time I was 10, so I had to grow up fast. I spent what little time I had exploring, risking it all, advancing, and fighting; until I got speared to death on a remote Philippine island. Do you have any idea what that was like? It was awful. Yet I died a horrific death 8,000 miles from home not for my own gain, but to ensure a glorious future for mother Portugal. The last few hundred years I can’t help but question this decision.

Look at you now: a debt-ridden country bereft of overseas possessions that has had to legalize drugs because everyone is so sad. Clearly this sadness is due to a lack of maritime glory.

I feel we have lost our noble Portuguese identity. We are a land that is smaller than those bobos North Korea, or even the U.S. state of Indiana, yet we have given the world so much. The delight of sardines, the faux hawk – that was totally Cristiano Ronaldo – and Fogo de Chao? You may think of that as more of a Brazil thing, but the way I see it, the riches of Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Goa are yours, Portuguese people.

The spoils of these savage lands are your birthright. In fact, a fellow apparition just informed me that Angola now has better job prospects than our beloved motherland. So there you go. It’s all out there, you need only tap your inner navigator and set sail for a new Portuguese Golden Age.

I exhort you, Portuguese homens e mulheres, recommission the caravels and raise your masts. Plunge your padrões into foreign lands and stake new claims.

Reclaim your birthrate. Rediscover your heritage. Reclaim greatness. For Portugal, for God, for future glory.

– F. Magellan

6 Comments

Filed under F History, Foreign Lands

440s – 450s A.D.

A while back we did a post on what the world was like in 1555 A.D. That was a lot of fun and I’ve been watching those awesome “Mankind” shows on the History Channel lately, so how’s about another foray into our spicy past? This time, we’re looking at another great era for the letter F: the 440s – 450s. A.D.

What was happening then? What were we doing? Who was blading and javelin-ing whom? What sorts of fluffy, pointy hats were en vogue? Was America rockin’ it superpower-style? The mighty Atilla the Hun died how?

Come with me as we delve into these dark, dank, kinda’ depressing decades that featured decadence for few, and decapitations for many. We don’t have much patience or relevant expertise room, so we’ll just look at a couple folks who were big at the time and skim some general happenings of the day.

By 440 A.D., the world was changing fast. The glory days of the intellectual Greeks had passed, the Roman Empire had been sliced into Western and Eastern entities and was careening toward its demise in 476 (the debated but generally historically accepted date of its demise), Christianity was on the upswing. Hypatia, history’s earliest female mathematician, had been murdered, Augustine had died, the great Library of Alexandria was no more, and the world’s balance of power seemed to be tilting toward barbaric sorts. Speaking of barbarism, let’s start by discussing that perennial first-round choice in everyone’s Fantasy Bloodthirsty Warlord Draft, Atilla.

Atilla the Hun – Truly one of history’s great purveyors of warfare and wanton bloodshed, Atilla hacked his way through Europe, carving out huge swathes of territory (eventually from what is now modern-day Germany all the way to the area of modern-day Georgia [Tbilisi not Honey Boo Boo/Chipper Jones]) and raking in crazy amounts of tribute along the way. He destroyed cities without mercy and massacred their populations.

Awesome Atilla the Hun figure sporting the pointy, fluffy hat of the day.

Awesome Atilla the Hun figure sporting the pointy, fluffy hat of the day; riding a horse with an emo haircut.

After his brother Bleda died in 445 (some say he died in a hunting accident, while some say Atilla was responsible for his death – who are we kidding, let’s just presume Atilla is guilty here) Atilla became the sole Khan of his vast empire. Though he was defeated in 451 by the fantastically-named Flavius, he continued torturing what was left of the Roman Empire and invading neighbors until his comically unmanly death in 453. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under F Commentary, F History, Foreign Lands

Flamingos

As a proud Floridian, I stand by one of our most iconic symbols: the flamingo. This noble creature has served as a spokesman for some of our finest institutions, such as Miami Subs and the Florida Lottery, shown tremendous grace over being turned into a lawn ornament, and brought a certain amount of class to a place where we used to just scream at horses to run faster.

Whether selling discount gyros or gracing lawns, flamingos are elegant creatures that deserve our full support.

Despite consistently having the smelliest quadrant at our local zoo (don’t even try to blame those swans you share the pond with), we stand with you, flamingos – albeit far away and not downwind. If it wasn’t for the Fennec Fox, you’d definitely be our official animal. Actually that’d probably make more sense as we’re not a Moroccan blog.

The majestic flamingo taking flight. We’re all rooting for you this week!

In all seriousness, this is a big week for flamingos. The BBC ran a great story detailing a gigantic flamingo love fest that is supposed to start happening this week in Tanzania. So everyone keep it down and keep your fingers crossed for lots of successful breeding of lesser flamingos. Unfortunately these critters are close to being endangered.

!BONUS FLAMINGO FACTS!

1. Scientists appear to have named the different kinds of flamingos based on their awesome-ness, you’ve got: lesser flamingos, greater flamingos, and then of course, AMERICAN FLAMINGOS.

2. Apparently the Romans of old used to enjoy eating flamingo tongue.

3. Flamingos can live up to 40 years!

4. They get their pink color from the things they eat, such as Big League Chew**, and other flamingos**.

**Not a real flamingo fact

2 Comments

Filed under Flora + Fauna, Foreign Lands