Visiting a third-world country

It can be a shock leaving a first-world country and going to a third-world one.

We are to travel on our destination country’s bankrupt national airline. We leave the plush lobby in the gleaming steel and glass airport we’re departing from to board a decrepit 30-year-old plane. The inside of the plane is a harbinger of what’s to come: depressing, dirty, and dark. The aircraft rumbles shakily down the runway, barely making it into the air and nearly shaking itself apart in the process. After nine hours in the air and two skipped meals—one hardly wants to look at, much less eat, the substances that culture calls food—our plane swoops down into the teeming, steaming metropolis that is our destination.

How sad it must be to live in a country like this. We can’t even leave the plane when it lands because the immigration people haven’t showed up for work yet. Once we do disembark, the airport seems to date back to the 70s, if not the 50s. Grime is caked on the walls and floors. Ceiling panels dangle. Paint is peeling. Sullen, bored immigration officials stamp our passports without making eye contact, after we have waited far too long in unreasonably long lines. Even then, our baggage still has not made it from the belly of the plane to the claim area—doing that in less than half an hour is apparently beyond the capabilities of this country and its lethargic denizens. Finally, the luggage does start to flow onto a cramped carousel, piling up everywhere, until obese locals materialize, grabbing the bags and tossing them onto an empty spot or dumping them unceremoniously on the floor.

We finally manage to escape the airport and wander out into the dank, muggy air of our destination country’s second largest urban conglomeration. At the taxi stand, natives are lounging on and around their filthy, broken-down vehicles, and we grab the nearest one. No more than a block from the airport we encounter the first of the ubiquitous street dwellers and beggars, looking so rancid one can almost smell them from within the taxi.

How did this country find itself in such dire straits, blessed as it is with bounteous natural resources and a hard-working populace? One major problem: the country’s autocratic leaders spend an inordinate proportion of the country’s wealth on their military, perhaps because they’re scared, perhaps because they want to push around other countries, or perhaps because it’s a good way to funnel money to their friends (and back to themselves). The country can drop one of the precision bombs it bought on an enemy—but it can’t get the homeless off its streets. They build up the military, which tempts them to use it, thus “justifying” yet further build-up.

What wealth wasn’t taken by the country’s military establishment was plundered by the rich and corrupt who have taken over its government, democratic in name only. Big companies—whether in the area of natural resources, manufacturing, or drugs, simply buy the legislation they want and the business they desire. The ultra-rich, living in their mansions in gated communities, pay virtually no taxes, due to bizarrely skewed tax laws.

The entire country is on the verge of a horrific health crisis. Hospitals are underfunded and understaffed; many are closing. People can’t use the hospitals that do exist since they have no way to pay for the services—neither the government nor sometimes even their company, should they happen to be lucky enough to be employed, offers medical insurance. Infant mortality, of course, is sky-high—higher even than in Cuba!

The younger generation—the hope for the future—is stuck in a massively dysfunctional educational system, most of them not even graduating from high school, even the ones that do unable to read and write their own language.

What country is this? What has happened to my country?

3 Responses to “Visiting a third-world country”

  1. Rich Reader Says:

    The third world country which you are touring is the U.S.

  2. hayley ponder Says:

    dear sir/madem

    i am finnishing collage in about 6 weeks and will hopefully get mt BTEC in photography i really want to go to a third world country to learn and to experiance what they live like. also to try and bring happiness to some of the kids who live there. i think that it would be a good strat to my photography experiance but dont know how to go about it could you please e.mail me some imformation about how i could go about this please thankyou.


  3. OfeliaGold Says:

    The goal for my entire life is to inspire people, to shock them and expose third world countries.To be a journalist. It sounds cheezy but, when I saw The Blood Diamond, it inspired me even more. What they showed wasn’t even a slice of what is actually going on. It’s worse, and I realize it. When I see pictures so touching and dear, I cry. Because nobody on this intire earth, good or bad, deserves to be treated the way they are now. You see people who want to go to hawaii. You think in your head, instead of going to hawaii, why don’t you give that money to someone else, or come back to reality, and instead of going to HAWAII go to a third world country. Or try Afganistan, or Pakistan, or Africa. Think about other people instead of yourself, that’s what I think. And while I waste myself in school, more and more people are dying. Thinking about quiting school is an option, but I need the schooling. Everyone thinks I’m crazy. That I can’t take the blood, and the suffering. the countries I’m thinking of going to are violent. I might get shot at, but I don’t care. At least I would have died fo a reason.

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