January 19, 2012

Travel List Challenge challenged, or, how'd Anne Pippy Longstockin Lewis get into Mecca?

Maybe you've seen the Travel List Challenge app on Facebook: 100 places deemed by the app's marketing team to be cool, important or impressive enough to merit must-see status. I ticked off 65; according to the app's "Compare Results" tab, Average User clocks in at 23. It's a good list, and I agree with most of the destinations, but two things about the list bother me.

First, whoever wrote the list and was presumably paid for it misspelled a number of entries. There's no easier writing assignment than making a list, so an error-filled one causes this writer to shake her head at the appalling quality of so much that's published online. With a few keystrokes to check his or her work the list writer could have caught such gaffes as Colloseum, Devil's Tower, Macchu Picchu and Sistene Chapel. The Web's awash in bad writing and bad information. Gives me pain. Caveat lector.

My other beef with the Travel Challenge is that the challengers lie. The aforementioned "Compare Results" tab shows you where you stand in relation to other challengers/globetrotters, but, unless lots of people pulled a Sir-Richard-Burton-in-1853, the "results" are, for some if not all of 162 of the challengers as of today's date, fabrications.

Why do I suspect that 162 people, give or take, lied? Because 162 people claim to have been to 100 of the 100 destinations, and one of those is the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Non-Muslims aren't allowed in Mecca. We can all go to Saudi Arabia, but a special exit sign on the highway to the sacred city directs non-Muslims where to get off before they reach it. Potential penalty for slipping into Mecca, trying to pass oneself off as Muslim, and getting caught runs the spectrum from deportation to decapitation.

So, Jake Scott, Lance Harvey, Mark Frazer, Ian Merry and Elaine Menini, are you still attached to your heads? Did you really visit Mecca's Grand Mosque? Maybe you made it to the Mecca bus station, outside city limits and open to all, but did you stand before the Grand Mosque with its sacred Kaaba, site of the hajj? You saw that? Anne Pippy Longstockin Lewis, how about you? And the chick named Siobhan? Blarney.

Maybe you're documented converts to Islam. If so, let me know, and I'll write an I-was-wrong post. (Christian Duffield, you'll never convince me.)