This week, I thought we might play a game I am trying to develop. It is called "Create a Country." The rules are simple: We design a country from the ground up, describing some of the components we would like to see in our country.
Our country must not be too large; let's keep the population under 400,000, with no more than 2 million seasonal visitors. But let's limit when they can come.
If we plunge our country into darkness for 20 hours each day in the winter, that should give us some peace and quiet and discourage off-season visitors.
We need the very best political system. Best to have a woman as prime minister; most of the really stable and successful nations have a woman at the top. For our largest city, let's put in a comedian/punk rocker as mayor who ran with the slogan, "Since most politicians are comedians, why not put a professional comedian in charge?"
To add character to the place, let's have colorful, abandoned fisherman cabins adorn the landscape and pass laws that they cannot be destroyed.
Let's give every resident comprehensive health care and full college tuition. And let's make sure that there are plenty of jobs for everyone when they graduate.
Let's not have any crime. It is a waste of time. In our country, it should be typical for mothers to enter a bar with friends, leaving their bundled-up babies in their carriage right outside the door. It will be cold in the winter, but let's have warmer winters than Chicago or New York.
No guns will be necessary. None at all. Not even our policemen will be armed.
Let's not have any military at all. Let's make our country an island with friends on both sides. But we will add some airstrips so we can charge the U.S. military to practice landings.
Food -- oh, yes, this is important. Our country has to be largely organic, with an endless supply of fresh fish, lamb, chicken, fruits and veggies and grass-fed beef. But mostly fresh fish! Given that we are an island with bountiful natural food products and a population heavily into farming, we're bound to attract some world-class chefs from other places.
We don't really need liquor stores; OK, maybe one in the entire country and another at our international airport. Bars are, of course, fully OK.
We would like to populate our country with some fairly bright, contemplative residents; writers, if you will. So, let's make our country a publishing center. Let's have one of every 10 residents be a published writer and publish more books per capita than any existing country.
I am thinking that our country might be friendlier if we never used last names. Let's just call everyone by their first names, even teachers, doctors or -- if we actually have them -- celebrities. Our phone book will be a bit like a puzzle, with first names listed first, but that will foster informality and bonding in our population.
I was having fun designing my "Create a Country" game until I discovered that the ideal place I described above already exists.
Four days ago, I returned from a circumnavigation of Iceland, and some of my notes from this journey aboard Tauck's Le Dumont-d'Urville Ponant Yacht charter appear above. My family was accompanied by 46 clients on a July 4 departure that was Covidly flawless.
I found that the villages and the fjords we were passing, the sun reflecting off the mountain snow, brought out the disco in my guests. We had all waited far too long to be together and it was time to party. But that is another story for another time.