When the Comments Section Is Even Better Than the Story

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Albert Podell, the 78-year-old author of Around the World in 50 Years, a book chronicling his travels to every single country on Earth, is replying to nearly all of his readers in the comments section of his new essay on “the nine countries for which I had the hardest time obtaining visas.” Five money quotes from Albert:

Why would anybody pay to get into Camden? Out I can understand.

Poor. Backward. Unattractive women. Crap food. Lousy infrastructure. Deadly drivers. Not much to do.

Balls of steels, or brains of mush, it’s hard to say which.

Israel will forgive a Saudi stamp in your passport, but not the other way around.

As with sex, reading, and scuba diving, you can either go fast or go deep. I prefer to go deep. You should try it some time.

Take a dive yourself—it’s very likely he’ll respond to your comment.