In my previous post, I contrasted my list of “must-see” sites around the world with that of Patricia Schultz, author of the best selling bucket list guidebook, “1000 Places to See Before You Die.”
With an eye specifically on baby boomers, and without wanting to be too grim about it, I wanted to accentuate places that are themselves at least somewhat in danger of dying or being considerably altered in coming years, for a variety of reasons.
So far, we’ve covered five regions of the globe — Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia/New Zealand/Pacific Islands. Now let’s tackle the U.S./Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean area.
U.S./Canada: There are so many possibilities in North America, but I’ll pick Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming/Montana over Schultz’s Monument Valley.
Yellowstone is not only a remarkably diverse collection of sights — from shooting geysers and steaming mudpots to deep green forests, wandering wildlife and much more — but scientists predict that at some point this bubbling cauldron of volcanic activity may well explode into one of the most devastating eruptions in the history of the earth. In the meantime, though, enjoy!
Latin America: Schultz’s choice, Ecuador’s Quito, is a charming colonial city. But I wouldn’t rank it above Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands — site of the most easily viewable wildlife on earth — or Chile’s Easter Island, site of the mysterious moai, the giant carved heads found around the island that defy explanation as to the how or even the why. But both the Galapagos and Easter Island are far out in the Pacific, so for my Latin America pick I’ll go with the Amazon River and basin.
The “Amazon” is actually a huge area that encompasses parts of Brazil, Ecuador and Peru, but no matter which parts you explore — I’ve done Ecuador and Brazil — its vast rainforests, vital to the earth’s ecology, are not to be missed. Alas, the rainforests there are fast disappearing, cleared for agricultural and other uses. So see it now, whether you choose to go by boat (I recommend Amazon Nature Tours) or stay in a jungle lodge such as Ecuador’s Sacha Lodge.
Caribbean/Bahamas/Bermuda: Dominica is a lush island, certainly a gem of the Antilles, but I have to go with the Panama Canal (which leads from the Caribbean to the Pacific), one of the man-made wonders of the world, which changed the course of human commerce by eliminating the necessity of having to navigate treacherous Cape Horn, at the tip of South America. The canal is now celebrating its 100th anniversary and undergoing expansion, but you can still see it via cruise ship or, better yet and more intimately, via day trips on small ships.
If you don’t want to include Panama as part of the Caribbean, I’d go with the historic colonial city of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic — the first city in the Americas, with a raft of “firsts” that are still well preserved but always in danger of over-development in this rapidly growing country.
I’d love to hear from readers about their own choices of must-see sites, and whether you agree or disagree with my picks.
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