Thanksgiving is almost upon us, when Americans
contemplate their previous year's good fortune, and begin planning for their 'holiday
season.' Knowing how much they have on their plate at this time of year, poor
things, I thought I might lighten their load a little, and suggest some
alluring destinations to make this a most memorable vacation. The biggest
temptation of these hot destinations is that they are already paid for --
courtesy of the US taxpayer!
No matter what holiday you celebrate,
whether it's Thanksgiving, Hannukah or Christmas, what better way to get in the
spirit of the season than an ocean cruise, each sailing to a different warm
weather destination -- the Indian Ocean, perhaps?
The ocean has an almost mystical effect,
seemingly changing your perceptions of who and what you really are. Experience
the winter wonderland of one of the festively decorated prison-ships, with
attractive yet practical wall fittings that conveniently fit around your wrists
and ankles to prevent accidental falls caused by the motion of the waves.
Entertainment Director Stephen Hadley
guarantees exciting on-board activities that make the sun seem to shine
brighter, that electrify the senses and make you forget the humdrum of the life
you left behind. And if all this doesn't make your smile grow wider, the people
that you meet will! The crew have been handpicked to ensure they express their
intense interest in you, yes YOU! Regardless of how many others are on board,
every passenger is made to feel the centre of attention, and offered a sense of
safety, comfort and excitement that is hard to beat out of them.
Best of all, there are none of those wet-blanket
party-killers to fear -- it is all in international waters, and out of the
reach of US law . . .
But don't forget to take out sufficient advance travel
insurance. You wouldn't believe how often return is delayed, how inestimable
the number of tourarists still sailing the briny ocean without a notion of when
their travails will come to an end. The Manfred Nowak Group
seemingly offer a reasonable deal, but unfortunately are notoriously slow to
respond. And if you don't word your claim perfectly, they just won't play ball.
For those who get queasy at the idea of an ocean
cruise, and let's be frank, they are not for just anyone, what could be more
stimulating than an overland jaunt taking in Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Middle
East and Central Asia?
whose history stretches from invasion to invasion (Mongols, Russians, Prussians, Austrians, Nazis,
Soviets, and now the capitalist West) has become a major destination. Here you can experience a way of life which had
seemingly vanished only half a century ago. Seventy kilometres from Krak�w lies
the site of the Oswiecim-Birkenau (Auschwitz-Birkenau) concentration camp
where 4 million people were killed by the Nazis. The camp area has been
designated as a memorial monument and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and the
way things are shaping up, UNESCO will soon have another memorial site on its
are the resorts in Romania and Bulgaria, largely unexplored
territories with magnificent wildernesses that guarantee privacy and
tranquillity, and well-preserved customs and traditions -- who doesn't recall
the luxurious accommodations and practices that were the legacy of Ceausescu,
and which US tourist companies have now elevated to an art form?
next few days can be spent enjoying water sports on the Black Sea coast --
despite the deceptive name, guides can readily arrange golden showers and any
number of similarly stimulating excursions, limited only by their imagination.
The independent traveller may like to take a side-trip to the former
Yugoslavia, where a good time is not just an option, but a grave
will then make your way southeastwards past "Pipelineistan," keeping
your eye out for Turkish resorts, and those under construction in Azerbaijan,
before experiencing the Iraqi heartland of the Middle East. As US resorts in
Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and elsewhere in the region have become relatively tame
of late, they have been excluded from the itinerary, in order to concentrate on
the truly astonishing -- Iraq.
the last few years, Iraq has hosted many national celebrations -- a favourite
was the week long carnival called Fallujah that just kept on keeping on, and
let's not forget the fireworks! Now, these truly are the experience of a
lifetime, and something you will surely never forget -- not least because the
white phosphorous burns may well have seared right down to your bones. Another
must-do: check out those party animals at Abu Ghraib, and sashay down the fun-filled streets, where
at any time you might be whisked off your feet and swept away for a few days or
weeks of unrivalled entertainment courtesy of the Interior Ministry! Don�t
worry about eating, sleeping, or any of those boring everyday aspects of daily
life, you won't need them at the Al-Jamiyat resort in Basra. Although you may
run into a few limey mates and their Iraqi apprentices, and have to humour them
by doing a few drill exercises to keep you awake, �cos, boy, do those guys ever
know how to party! And that's what makes the country so special -- the reason
so many visitors return decade after decade. You will feel it's your home away
from home and want to come back again and again, and so will your children --
once you've experienced the Middle East, you'll understand why Bush, like his
father before him, says "It doesn't get better than Baghdad!"
If time and circumstance permit, take a quick glance at
North Africa for possible inclusion in future itineraries, then off to
Afghanistan, where there is not actually a hell of a lot to see in Kabul, given
that at least one-third of all
public buildings and approximately 40 percent of the houses were completely
destroyed in the search for what's-his-name, the guy who supposedly blew up the
Twin Towers and was going to be made to pay for it, but whose embarrassing
disappearance from the radar, thus the news, means everyone�s forgotten all
advisories say trips inside and outside urban or rural areas in Afghanistan are
ill-advised and dangerous, seeing as how people who make them tend to either
disappear off the face of the earth or end up in commie countries like Cuba,
where in Guantanamo human rights are totally ignored. So when/if you emerge
from your underground hotel (single rooms guaranteed, but don't count on
getting much sleep -- these boys also like to party hard) you'll keep on
moving, down through Pakistan to the last resort on our itinerary --
but Thailand can you burn across the bay on a converted rice barge, roar
upriver in a long-tail boat where your screams are swallowed by the rainforest,
take a white-knuckle ride on a bamboo raft, stay indefinitely in jungle tree
houses, all as guests of the US taxpayer? Equally memorable are the trails
leading deep into the rainforest past cooling waterfalls, heaven to the
tortured limbs after a hard day's grind, and the simple beauty of the sound of
the translucent sea lapping onto endless white, soft sand -- or is that the
sound of blood splashing, and the sandy feel of grit on the sole of the boot
crushing your face into the ground. . . . .
Plot it all out on a map and, like the waxing moon, you will
see a great crescent that, as Tom Engelhardt pointed out, "more or less
coincides with the Middle Eastern and Caspian oil heartlands of the planet."
Wow! It's not just God, the entire heavens are on your side!
And fear not, you US citizens who can't afford such
exotic locations, no matter what your budget there are over 6,000 camps right
there in the USA ready, willing and able to fulfil your dreams of adventure --
and at no cost. In fact, the US taxpayer will pay YOU to go there! Not only are
these camps a great introduction to the outdoor life and character-building to
boot, but many thousands of 'happy campers' have subsequently gone on to
several of the aforementioned popular foreign destinations, and plans are
underway for Venezuela and Cuba to be on next year's itinerary!
Do bear in mind that the domestic destinations cater
only to those over 18 years of age, and some Florida and Texas resorts are
strictly reserved for foreign guests from the Caribbean and Latin America, to
express US solidarity with the poor and impoverished of the region and ensure
they also benefit from the facilities and services so generously funded by your
Consider also that many guests become so totally
overwhelmed and engulfed by their life-changing experiences that they never
return . . . but rest assured that the generous move of the current
administration to remove death duties means your family will not have to pay
for such foolish follies as dying while playing at such extreme sports, the
taxpayer will. The New Yorker reported that through the removal of these death
duties the 25 richest families in the US will benefit by an amount equivalent
to what the war in Iraq is costing . . . if the war in Iraq is costing x
dollars a day and driving the budget into deficit, how does it make sense to
give the tax-take that was paying for the war back to the richest people in the
nation? Oh, I get it, the rich don't pay taxes, the poor pay for the war, then
the Bush administration rewards the rich and recovers the costs by cutting
social programmes and pensions, in other words, robs the poor, the old, the
sick and the homeless to pay for their sons and daughters to be slaughtered in
Iraq -- now that�s just plain evil. Yes, you US taxpayers have much to give
thanks for this year!
But we're kind of scraping the barrel out here in the
rest of the world, especially in the developing world. What can we be thankful
for? We can't even grease up to you, with the price we have to pay for oil
products -- if we happen to have any income, that is. What light is at the end
of our tunnel?
Maybe that shining light beaming off the southern
coast of the US for the last 50 odd years, warning the south and anyone else
with the requisite humanity and sensibility not to wreck itself on those rocky
shores of consumerist greed, capitalism and imperialism. That lighthouse Cuba,
showing that there really is a simple and just way to distribute a country's, a
planet's, resources -- equally and fairly, and according to need. Showing that
despite hardship and cruel external forces such as the US blockade, where there
is genuine political will, health, education, food and shelter can be made
available to all.
We can be thankful for the example of the Cuban
people, whose strength and fortitude against all odds has provided such an
inspiration to their fellow citizens of the world, and is now bearing fruit in
the flowering of genuinely just social and political movements not only in
Venezuela, but throughout Latin America, Africa and the world, showing that
indeed, a better world is possible.
We can be thankful that at least 53 million US citizens, along with the majority of
the rest of the world, do not share the current US administration's desire to
rape the world and destroy the planet for the benefit of a few short-sighted,
We can also hope that on 24
November the current US administration and all their supporters, instead of
talking turkey, killing turkey, basting, roasting, eating turkey, will all sit
down to a steaming great plate of taxpayer funded humble pie -- and swallow.