One of my goals is to visit every country before I die. At this stage in my life (44 years old) and travels (120 countries), it’s not something I worry about. In fact, I am utterly confident of achieving it. My other travel-related goal of being conversant in every major language? Probably unobtainable, but I’m going to try.
Robert Major was obsessed with the number of countries that he had visited. On the bus ride from Bonito to Iguazu Falls, we had gotten into a spirited, but light-hearted discussion about what countries “counted” and which countries didn’t. (Initially impressed by our total, he later expressed skepticism at some of our inclusions: “Hong Kong was British before 1997, and Chinese after 1997. It was always a colony of some other country, and shouldn’t count.”) In fact, Robert was in competition with a friend back home. In the next few days, he would be visiting two new countries. He was already planning to send text messages to taunt his friend as he added to his total: