"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Continents apart, new blog countries

Every time I give up on gaining new readers in new countries, I'm surprised, as I was today with readers in two countries, on two continents, Asia and Africa.
For the first time, people in Bhutan in Asia, and Equatorial Guinea, in Africa, clicked on this blog. I have no idea why, but I'd love to meet them.
They mark the 114th and 115th countries to have readers clicking on this blog. Amazing. The global reach of digital media is beyond understanding.
First, Bhutan, a kingdom at the eastern foothills of the Himalayas, bordered by Tibet (China) and India, grabs my attention.
It has long been a kingdom, but became a constitutional monarchy in 2008. It's a Buddhist country, closely linked with Tibet, and many people from the country of Nepalese ancestry have been refugees to America. It's a small country of somewhere between 700,000 to two million people--depending on how you count-- in an area half the size of Indiana (which is smaller than Oklahoma). It's also a scenic country of valleys and mountains, and one of the safest in the world,  with a very low crime rate, especially for tourists.
Its flag, dating from 1947,  is based on Tibetan Buddhism and the Thunder Dragon of Bhutanese mythology. It's fascinating to me, because a student in my international media class at UCO, visited there this past year, and will report on its media.
The other country, Equatorial Guinea, in Africa, is one of the smallest in Africa, and an almost complete opposite of Bhutan. It's the only country in Africa where Spanish is the main language, following colonization, and it's very small, less than Maryland, and barley covering most of central Oklahoma.
What makes it stand out is that since the 1980s, it's one of the top oil producers in sub-Sahara Africa, the richest in per capita income,  but most of the population of more than 600,000 never see those benefits--typical of many countries in the world including the U.S.
The country has one of the worst human rights records in the world, and international press groups rank the president as "Predatory" in regard to press freedom. Sex trafficking for women and children and forced labor are reported.
The flag, adopted on independence from Spain in 1968, has been changed by dictatorial leaders, but carries the phrase "Unity, Peace, Justice."  Sure.
But whoever you are who has clicked on this blog in a free country--amid all its faults, welcome, and thank you, and free people honor your for your courage. And in Bhutan, thank you also.

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