Dear Rolf, Travel To The Middle East: Good Idea?

Friday, March 6, 2009


I’m just finishing up Rolf Potts’ “Marco Polo Didn’t Go There,” a collection of Rolf’s self-described postmodern tales from the road — postmodern, I think, in the sense that his stories lean more towards self-awareness than romanticism. Of course that term itself has such a blurry definition that I’m not really sure what it means when applied to travel writing, but the point is that it’s a good book, and you should read it.

In this week’s “Dear Rolf,” (everytime I see that name I think of “The Sound of Music“) Rolf is asked whether travel to the Middle East is safe. His answer is “yes,” as long as you don’t do something stupid, like wander around alone drunk in the middle of the night, or spend your time hanging out in tourist meccas that attract dodgy characters. He also suggests checking for travel advisories through the State Department, which he understatedly notes “tends to err on the conservative side.” You think? The last time I did that their web site advised me to abandon all travel plans and spend my vacation in my closet.

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