Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Stranger Danger

Forbes, a smidge late on the year-end list-making craze (did they have actual content in late December? Did nobody invite Forbes to any holiday parties?), has released a tantalizing list of the 14 Most Dangerous Destinations for 2006.

Their methodology compiles the country watch-lists from two risk-consultancy firms, and cross-references these with the U.S. State Department's Travel Warnings to come up with the Big Scary. Actually, I think they cross-referenced something with my Mother's subconscious because among other top-14 notables such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and other family-fun-time roving-death-squad getaways, we find, um, Georgia.

Now, you know me.

I'd love nothing more than to hoist high my martyr flag and carve a notch into my bedpost with my teeth because I'm so hardcore that I laugh in the face of unfathomable danger. But this is even beyond my powers of hyperbole. Georgia? My Georgia?

I can't imagine that a Travel Warning has been issued by the State Department for Georgia for at least a decade, since the civil war hostilities ceased. Yes, they warn against travel to the volatile separatist regions, but on a global scale, we're not exactly in Karachi, Dorothy. In fact, the State Department doesn't even allocate a danger pay allowance for Georgia, although it does for Serbia & Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzogovina in Europe.

I have lost my wallet, I guess, and have come to suspect a few erstwhile friends have attempted to assassinate me with vodka, but I don't think that quite passes the bar to put us into the car-bombing club.

At any rate, the Department of Tourism (which has, by the way, a surprisingly great site), is not going to be too keen on this latest honor. About two weeks ago I sat in on a focus group of expats that was meant to help the Tourism Department test-run a new marketing campaign. At one point, we were brainstorming new slogans to replace the horrific "Georgia - the flavour of magic wine." A few of my peers came up with some pretty catchy slogans, though I was much partial to somebody's "Georgia: Your Neighbors Haven't Been Here."

Still if Forbes has its way, we may have to opt for the motto that occurred to me when I was channeling Warren Zevon at the close of the session: "Georgia: Bring Lawyers Guns and Money."


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