I have to confess something: I love a good shithole. It’s taken me the better part of three decades to step on all seven continents and visit about 80 countries, including many of the those that President Trump would disparage. Last week, he reportedly called those poor (not-white) countries in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean shitholes, but the term has long been used to describe just about any country (and some of our own counties) that lacks the sorts of luxuries that many Americans take for granted.
But here’s the thing: so-called shitholes are the better places to visit. Not only can your dollar affect them the most, but the more beat-down a place is, the greater the potential it has to shake you out of your bubble and give the traveler’s holy grail—you know, this thing called “understanding.” I’ll suffer through skiing in Switzerland with chasselas-soaked chanterelles in my belly if I must, but I’d rather wander around the places our President writes off any day.
Why? The people. They’ve invited me into their homes, let me camp in their gardens between the ginger and frangipani, and given me bowls of goat they just slaughtered for no other reason than because they were curious and kind. Experiences like that make you grateful, and that’s the first step toward becoming decent. So, herewith, five of my favorite shitholes.