The most underrated country in the world

“Why is it so hard to admit you like the good ‘ole US of A?” asks Ben Groundwater, resident Backpacker Blogger at the Sydney Morning Herald.

As a non-American who spends a lot of time in the US, I wept with joy when I read his latest blog “The most underrated country in the world“. OK, I didn’t weep but I did enjoy it tremendously.

He gets into analyzing the American psyche, which–let’s be honest here–has been the full-time job of many a backpacker worldwide. From my own modest experience psychoanalyzing the American “it”, I advise against it. Unless of course you take pleasure in pissing people off. (Gadling is hiring, by the way)

Anyway, back to Ben. He shares his own observations about America: “I first touched down in the US as a kid, a time when it’s impossible to hate the place….As you grow up, however, the place becomes harder and harder to love….My long-time travel buddy, the Hilton Hippy, has got the shits with the Yanks. Never going back there, he says. Doesn’t want to be fingerprinted by some half-witted goon in immigration. Doesn’t want to throw his tourist dollars into a place run by a glorified county sheriff….But let’s cut to the biggest perceived problem with the US: the people…..They’re meant to be loud-mouthed, rude, arrogant, and ridiculously insular.”

Hold on here, be patient. This is where Ben goes positive on us. “Thing is, the Seppos get a bad wrap because of their behaviour when you meet them overseas, but at home, they’re generous to the point of being overbearing. I’ve been driven across state lines by people I barely know, been offered directions by New Yorkers before I’ve even had a chance to pull out a map, had people beg me to come visit so they can show me their home town. Borat made those college kids look pretty damn stupid when he hitched a lift with them in the movie, but have a think about what was actually happening. Here was a bunch of kids heading off on holidays, picking up what was, to their minds at least, a middle-aged Kazakhstani hitchhiker, sharing their precious stash of beer with him and trading stories. Find me any Australians who would do that.”

He’s got a point there. Americans are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. (As a non-American I can actually say that and not sound like a totally clueless Yankee flag-waver.)

(Read Ben’s entire The most underrated country in the world” blog here)