Travelers have a tendency to compete. Amid the storytelling, the you-won’t-believe-thisiness of the conversations, there’s an underlying scorekeeping. Imagine miniature gargoyles flipping scorecards up and up and up like at a high school volleyball match. Invited for tea at the lamasery in Nepal? Score for you! Unexpected alpaca shearing festival in the altiplano of Peru? Points! World’s biggest fishfry in Camogli, Italy? half a point (Italy’s too trodden, and the fishfry is in the guidebook.)
There’s things you’d like to win at. Most fortuitous, most genuine, most unique, most obscure, most unexpected, best photo. Then there’s categories you’d just as soon avoid: worst experience with health care in another country, worst injury, most scathing tonguelashing by a religious figure, most times relieved of your posessions. (though I’ve met my share of people who tell their near-death experiences with relish, experience dictates that this is an after-the-fact spin, and the during portion of the experience is just as pants-peeing for them as it would be for any human).
There’s a part of me that tries to stay out of the competition. How I feel about my travels is so much more important than how some stranger at a party feels about where I’ve been and what I’ve experienced. But the moral high road is lonely, and I’m only human.
So I present to you: the smallest, least convincing airport. Port Howard, Falkland Islands.