When you think about the best places in the world to take your family on a relaxing, two-week trip, the first location that comes to mind is Somalia. Naturally. It's got it all. So, in order to beat the summer rush, I booked my family's trip in late March, but then I pick up a newspaper and read about the rampant pirate activity around the Horn of Africa. Well, so much for that.
Looks like any chance of us enjoying some fun in the Somalian sun just went right out the window.
That's right, out the window. As in, finito. As in, no way, no how. As in, I guess my family can just forget about playing beach volleyball along the Gulf of Aden. Or shopping for knickknacks in the marketplaces of Mogadishu. Or immersing ourselves in the rich culture and colorful history of Somalia. All of that is just a dream now. A crazy, beautiful dream.
It's not like I could have known something like this would happen. It's Somalia, for crying out loud! The one place on earth where you'd never expect this kind of shocking violence. We're not talking about some godforsaken hellhole here. We're talking about Somalia—Somalia, Africa!
Dang it, why couldn't those pirates have struck just one month later? But no, they had to hijack those ships two weeks before my family's meticulously planned getaway to the pristine desert paradise of Somalia. What are the chances? Seriously? Millions of tourists flock to Somalia every year like flies, and I end up being the one poor jerk whose family trip gets ruined by an international imbroglio. Perfect. Just my luck.
Trust me, I did everything in my power to save this trip. But you know how these little resort countries get. They're not used to dealing with real-world crises, so they freak out whenever there's the littlest incident. Next thing you know, their whole tourism industry is kaput and you're standing there like a chump with four nonrefundable tickets to Somalia in your pocket. Talk about unfair.
You know, it's almost as if the same infrastructure that makes Somalia one of the world's top vacation destinations also makes it uniquely unprepared for geopolitical upheaval. It's the darnedest thing.
I know exactly what my kids are going to say. "Oh, Dad, this is just like the time we had to abort our Sierra Leone trip in 2000, or when we had to cancel our hiking expedition through the very depths of the Rwandan jungle." Well, I'm sorry, but who do you think I am, Nostradamus? Can I see into the future and predict what countries bad things are going to happen in? Of course not. Crazy, unforeseen events are always happening in random countries, for no reason at all, and with no historical precedent. That's the way the world works. It's just that this time, my family happened to get unlucky. Again.
So let's not start playing the blame game. I'm not the bad guy here. The bad guys are the pirates in the Indian Ocean who decided to pick one of the most beloved tourist locales on the planet and foul it up for average American families like mine.
God help me, I will make it up to my wife and kids. Even if we never make it to Somalia, I guarantee that one day soon we will all be strolling down the streets of Kinshasa or backpacking through the lush Sudanese wilderness, seeing things and making memories we'll never forget until the day we die.