Monday, June 16, 2008

Unpopular Tourist Destinations

Due to a variety of reasons there are a number of places best avoided by the casual traveler: poor sanitation, casual crime, routine natural disasters, an unstable political condition, poor television reception, aggressive panhandlers, unattractive squalor, etc., but sometimes there are other, more unique, reasons to avoid certain lands and peoples. Occasionally these other unpopular destinations might have such reasons as hemorrhagic fevers or death squads to stay off a traveler’s agenda, but sometimes their uniqueness is so disturbing, so peculiar that they deserve at least a mention -- so as to show how disturbing these places can be, how dangerous even a slight detour from recommended tourist sites can be sometimes be. True, most of these places are no longer as dangerous as they've been in the past but that doesn't mean the message is any less valid: there always have been, and will be, unpopular tourist destinations.

For instance, if one were sailing the Torres Strait, Mer Island was definitely to be steered clear of. Do not land, do not anchor on that forbidding outcrop of land - especially if you’re of the male gender: it was far better to swim away through the shark-infested waters or risk drowning in the tumultuous sea than set foot on that island.

For you see, the people of Mer Island had a God, a very special God. Like an exaggerated idol lifted straight from the pages of a pulp horror, it towered over their crude village: face carved on a massive turtle shell, ferns painted in blood as a headdress. Human rib bones hung down from the top of its primitive head, and severed arms and legs were strung about its waist.

Ugly, yes … and hungry. But this God wasn't satisfied with the simple human remains that decorate its bulk, or the blood that’s liberally painted onto its decorative ornaments. Every year, for eight days, a special celebration took places to honor this God and it is during these eight days that every man on that island quakes in fear, and it is during these eight days that this miserable little rock in a stormy sea should be desperately avoided. For during these eight days men’s genitals were horribly sacrificed, torn from the bodies of prisoners, foreigners, and those simply unlucky enough to be found desirable to this ravenous effigy. The rites continued until their ritual bowl overflows with blood and severed genitals until their God is happy, or there are no more men left to sacrifice.

Not as comprehensive, or fatal but certainly not pleasurable, it was also best to avoid dalliances with the women of Truk Island, Micronesia. While they certainly are fetching and more than sexually accommodating, they were also in possession of a certain erotic behavior that can be quite distressing -- and very, very painful. During sexual intercourse, you see, the ladies of this idyllic island had a fondness for inflicting extreme, burning pain on their sexual partners, and so to further ‘inspire’ their fevered performance. Some time ago, they used to wield small pieces of red-hot charcoal, but with the advent of trade with the West they switched quite readily to cigarettes to prod their partners. On Truk Island, incidentally, a man with certain burn scars is considered sexually appealing, experienced -- so much so that self-burning has become commonplace as a way to enhance sexual allure.

For similar, though not exactly identical, reasons it is earnestly advised that male travelers avoid the Topinamba tribe’s regions of Brazil -- especially if they find themselves in an amorous situation with one of their females. Obsessed with penis size, they have taken to a severe means of enlarging the male organ that, while effective and pleasurable to the women, is conversely excruciatingly painful to the men. In the bedroom, you see, or what passes for such a space among the tribe, they introduce a small, rather venomous snake, which is then encouraged to bite their mates and partners on their members, thus causing severe swelling and much pain. It is rumored that the men tolerate this for two reasons, one being that it gives so much pleasure to their women -- but also because no man would ever turn down a way of making themselves bigger ... despite the pain.

In conclusion, I feel it necessary to also give a sincere warning to the females who also might travel to sexually dangerous areas -- one region in particular. Among the people of the Micronesian (again) island of Ponape it is customary to give the women enhanced pleasure through the application of a certain kind of stinging ant. While not as obviously painful as the use of a small, poisonous snake, the Ponape people still manage to rate in this article because of the placement of this ant: on the clitoris, which they report to cause some pain, but also some form of pleasurable sensation as well.

There are many wondrous places on this world worth visiting -- lands full of charming people and quaint customs. There are amazing sights, and fantastic experiences awaiting those willing to explore but there are all also dangers and risks that can reach up and bite you on the ... well, suffice to say that it’s always best to be a cautious traveler.

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