In Japan, monkeys get together at a monkey sauna.

I’ve seen a photograph. I can’t remember exactly where or when it ran, but that picture would make a great fold-out for National Geographic. Or Pethouse magazine.

The shot I remember showed a boss monkey seriously hunkered down, mid-winter, in a steaming natural spring. Frost whitened his hair, and his face looked like a cold blue kabuki mask. Tendrils of warm steam rose from the hot springs and formed a happy heart in the air over his furry frozen little head.

About 20 other monkeys steeped themselves in the natural jacuzzi around him. That sauna water probably tastes… peculiar.

Monkey tea.

That’s why you wouldn’t drink the water. That’s why you’d bring an ice-cold Coke… and maybe ice-cold Cokes for the whole spa. (Hold the ice, please.)

Jigokudani Monkey Park would be my first stop on a world tour (and beyond) of Coca-Cola destinations – the hot monkey springs in Nagano Prefecture in mid-winter.

That leaves nine Cokes to go… in nine dream destinations.

1. The Great Wall

The Italians build a hot motorcycle. It has a four-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine. It goes 176 miles per hour.

As far as I know, none of its parts come from China.

I want to take it to China, though… or have it meet me there.

I want to uncrate it with a special set of Italian-motorcycle-uncrating tools. I want to roll it slowly into the daylight in the middle of Tiananmen Square. I want to stand proudly polishing my hot Italian motorcycle with a special chamois.

I want special "oohs" and "aahs" from everyone that passes by for an entire day.

The next morning, I want a special helicopter to drop down from the sky with a special harness that lifts my hot Italian motorcycle like a stork picking up a baby for delivery.

The helicopter will zoom us across China all the way to the Great Wall. 

The chopper will hover in the air while I descend, already mounted atop my hot Italian motorcycle, all the way down to the stone walkway on the wall. I’ll slip on my special hot Italian motorcycle gloves, then open a bottle of ice-cold Coca-Cola. My Adam’s apple will bob up and down until the whole bottle empties.

Ahh! Magic! 

Then I will flip down the visor and twist the bike handles and raise a blue smoke cloud you can see all the way to… well, China.

One-hundred-seventy-six miles per hour down the Great Wall on my hot Italian motorcycle.

Fully carbonated.

2. Cape Town

Let’s take a little walk. From Cairo. To Cape Town.

We’ll pack light but smart. Always a meal or two on hand. Plenty of water, and a map and GPS and a travel plan and clothes to match the meteorological mood. We’ll need a good smartphone that charges in direct sunlight.

The Nile will keep us company for the first 4,000 miles. That’s faithful companionship!

We’ll spend nights along the way in places called Delgo and Dongola. (Maybe Luxor too; I like the name.)

When we reach Khartoum, where the Blue Nile meets the White Nile, we’ll take color photos to see if a camera can really tell the difference.

We’ll keep the fire blazing bright on hyena nights, and we’ll keep our eyes on the stony ground as we pass near Olduvai Gorge. Who knows? We might find a tooth from Desi, the 4-million-year-old hominid mate of Lucy.

We’ll pass on down the length of the continent, leaving behind Dr. Livingstone’s meeting place with Dr. Stanley, I presume, and the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River of Kipling’s Just-So Stories, and the exact spot where Mufasa, the Lion King, got it in the back from his mean brother, Scar. 

After burning through a dozen pairs of athletic shoes and close to 1 trillion calories, we’ll promenade the streets of Capet Town and listen to cries of the street vendors and to the lively music that comes out the windows of the houses.

We’ll reach Cape Agulhas, at long last, the southern tip of Africa. Where the cold Atlantic and the warm Indian oceans meet, we will look out at the waves, open ice-cold Cokes… and drink in the journey of a lifetime.

3. Fly Me to the Moon

It’s going to be hard to get there.

The best bet appears to be hitching a ride with one of today's enterprising, uber-rich airline magnates. It won’t be long before all those smart people come up with something gravity can’t hold back. (Hey, Gravity! Don’t get your feelings hurt! We still love ya!)

I’ll reserve a window seat, not an aisle. I’ll select the chicken substance, not the pasta substance, for my in-flight meal. I’ll watch Alien as on-board entertainment.

After blastoff and escape from earth’s orbit, I honestly prefer the Sea of Tranquility for a landing. That should settle jangled nerves.

After we touch down, I’ll take my celebratory ice-cold Coke on a silver tray.

In a pouch. 

Our friend, Gravity, doesn’t pull a lot of weight on the moon.  

4. Mama’s

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. 

In Alabama, it’s a sweet home. I go see Mama there.

Here’s what we do in Mama’s living room.

We watch Bonanza. (If we’re lucky, we get the episode when Hoss chases little green men.) Then we watch Little House on the Prairie. (The episode doesn’t matter. They’re all the same.) 

After that, we watch The Waltons. And anything with Andy Griffith in it. And Mama’s favorite soap opera, The Young and the Restless. (The cast has been young and restless for 42 years now. Those people ought to be worn out.)

We count Mama’s pills… and look at old family photographs… and talk about Gray Boy, her fine Houdini tomcat, always disappearing to go courting. We reminisce about Daddy, and Mama tells what’s going on with all six kids and seven grandkids and three-going-on-four great grandkids.

Finally, it’s time for ice-cold Cokes.

She drinks Diet Coke.

Mine?I drink the real thing. 

It tastes sweet. Like home. 

5. North Pole

Before the Arctic melts away, I want to visit the polar bears. 

I want to walk among them and place an ice-cold Coke in each frosty paw. I want to tie red-and-white scarves around their necks and make selfies with every last one of them.

I want their polar bear autographs – they made me so happy doing those commercials for Coca-Cola through the years. Polar bears are so much more cool than dancing teenagers.

Cool. That’s the word.

What could be cooler than polar bears drinking Coca-Cola? I don’t see why they aren’t called Colar Bears. Why not give them a cool new name like that?

Anyhow, I want the polar bears to know they got a friend in me. And I want us all to stand under the Northern Lights and raise our Coca-Colas and salute the good old days. 

I want someone to show that photo to my great-great-great-great-great-grandkids one day… to prove we all were really there.

6. The Grand Canal

I played baseball in Italy for one season, back when I was 25 years old. Third base, Verona Arsenal. My knees worked, and even with astigmatism I got good wood on a fastball three times out of 10. (Curve balls? Forget it.)

We played on Sundays, Saturdays free.

Those days off, I developed a bad habit.

Venice.

About 8 a.m., always in a trance of stupefaction from too much Italian Friday night, I staggered to the train station. I bought a round-trip ticket to Venice, 53 minutes and three centuries away. I knocked back a scalding shot of espresso, strong enough to power the locomotive I rode.

By the time my head cleared, the train pulled into La Serenissima.

I will not discredit Venice or myself by trying to describe it. Just go look at any picture. You’ll save reading the 10,000 awesome words I might have written… words that still would not have come anywhere close to capturing the magic of that place.

One Saturday, I found myself on the Rialto Bridge. 

Under my feet chugged a vaporetto, a Venetian water taxi. Next, a gondola passed, the gondolier singing like Pavarotti as he oared that strange, coffin-black craft down the Grand Canal.

And then came a surprise.

A vehicle motored by, loaded with… crates of Coca-Cola.

Yes, Coke makes deliveries in Venice by boat.

Years now past youthful 25, I want to see Venice again soon and watch the Coke boat chug past on its way to supply the merchants and machines of this unique city.

I’d like, in fact, to step onto the deck of the little boat and hand the driver an ice-cold Coca-Cola and sing him an aria in my best Italian.

Just to remind him of la dolce vita… how good life can really be.

7. Under the Sea

I’d like to be… under the sea… in an octopus’s garden in the shade…

I’ll have that little ditty cued up for my first night in a five-starfish hotel now under construction at Fiji.

A hotel 40 feet under the ocean. 

The Poseidon Undersea Resort’s PR says that when builders finish their sleepery on the ocean floor… right in the middle of its own artificial reef... guests can enjoy air-conditioned, humidity-controlled, see-through, acrylic rooms and press buttons to feed the exotic fish that swim past.

I plan to soak in a jacuzzi, like those Japanese snow monkeys, and watch the hammerheads and clownfish. I’ll dine at the world’s first undersea restaurant with 63 of my closest friends. (Order the fish – it’s fresh!)

I might even attend someone’s nuptials in the world’s first undersea wedding chapel. Or, in the underwater library/lounge/conference room, I can research the divorce rates of couples who marry underwater.

And when I pour an ice-cold Coca-Cola 40 feet below the surface, I’ll watch the happy bubbles rise in my glass… and compare them to the solemn bubbles rising from that enormous grouper staring into my bedroom with its weird unblinking eyes. 

I sure hope the windows have Venetian blinds…

8. The Set of the Next Blockbuster Spy Movie

Hey, Mr. Bond! Let’s you and me vault the roulette table and jujitsu our way past a half-dozen heavies with curare-laced brass knuckles (we won’t get a scratch!)… then dodge a hail of Uzi bullets with simultaneous gymnastic rolls to safety behind a steamer trunk that’s packed with priceless jewels (including Mother Superior, the 6,969-carat mother of all blue diamonds) … then disable that homemade atomic bomb ticking away in the robot tummy of Velveta Ooze, the sexy Colombian female lead... and then make our getaway with a leap through the fortieth-story window, shattering the cut-glass window monogram (O, for Ooze, the international high-fashion syndicate)… and on the way down perform a synchronized reverse 3 ½ somersault with ½ twist to perfect soft landings atop our specially cushioned twin hot Italian motorcycles… and as we speed away, press buttons on the handlebars that fill two Waterford glasses with ice-cold Coca-Cola, mixed with a ½ twist of another sort.

And when the director yells "CUT! THAT’S A WRAP!", we’ll knock those Cokes back in long delicious swallows and fist-bump to celebrate saving the British Empire and a bunch of really pretty girls (like Velveta Ooze!) from the forces of evil.

Again.



Charles McNair

9. Colombia

The last place I’d like to drink a Coke? 

Here in my apartment. Bogotá. From Velveta Ooze’s magnificent honey-colored navel. (Hey! I just rescued her from the forces of evil!)

Hold the ice. No straw, please.


Charles McNair, a native of Alabama, lives and writes in Bogota, Colombia. He's the author of two novels, Land O' Goshen and Pickett's Charge.