The year is 2060.

“Hello, a dear inhabitant of Earth, this is Ezra from the Schiaparelli Hotel & Casino speaking. We are delighted that you have chosen to fly with us, and your room is being prepared right now. While you wait, you are invited to the Dome to see the view from here, and if I may say, I strongly recommend you to. Enjoy Mars! Hey, Two, who’s at the tennis courts? Don’t you know the director will be here any minute and that he will want to play?” asked the neurotic, funny-looking receptionist. Mental problems are something usual today, as for the last 25 years, newborns have been automatically assigned a psychotherapist. 

Elon Musk's “City-State” on Mars: An International Problem - Modern  Diplomacy
Credits: SpaceX

The atmosphere inside the Schiaparelli Hotel & Casino was, well, agitated. Dozens of colorfully dressed space tourists were moving around, in and out, out and in, people hurrying to get spots for the latest attractions. There were businessmen, ready to acquire the next big building, to create the next tourist resort, business people who have been around ever since the Great Year, when humans first reached Mars. That must have been in the 30s or so.

It’s funny that social classes have grown to be hundreds of miles apart from each other, now more than ever, and while for some, the Great Year was the most important year of their lives, for others, life on Earth was just the same as before. The economy on Earth is working worse and worse, but lower-class people could do nothing about it. So, while there is seemingly nothing to do now, may this poor writer’s letter go back in time and find the people of the 20s with nothing but peaceful thoughts and with this alarming message. 

In the Schiaparelli Hotel & Casino, there were not only businessmen. However, they made a good part of the people there, but also artists, journalists, writers such as myself, and families on holiday. It was a beautiful place to be in, far from the city’s outskirts where obviously things were not as happy as in here.

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While I wait for my name to be called at the Tourist Department, I cannot help but notice a strange man reading something on paper. Actual paper! As a self-called intellectual, a dying species, I know something about such things, but they weren’t even created on Earth anymore, not to mention Mars. On the other hand, Schiaparelli was the only place you could expect to see other members of this weird species of humans reading from papers. 

“Amara, welcome to Mars. Your room at the Schiaparelli Hotel & Casino is ready. You will find that the hotel is aptly placed near the center of the city so that you can easily get where you need. We strongly suggest not leaving the recommended areas of movement, since we can no longer help you in case you need it if you do so” the voice sounded in my head with some screeches, as I haven’t repaired my system in a long time.

“Since you bought the Full Tourist Pack, let me present to you the main attractions on Mars. Some are in the proximity of the hotel, while for others, you must leave with one of our custom-made helicopters”. Now that’s cool. 

Olympus Mons

Obviously, it is one of the main attractions. “Olympus Mons is the tallest volcano in the Solar System. It could be active, as it is one of the youngest volcanoes on Mars, but we will know when it will erupt. That is the reason for which building living areas around the mountain is strictly forbidden. Because it is on the other side of the planet, a plane will be waiting for you tomorrow morning for the trip.”

Ever since the Ingenuity helicopter, which had its first flight in 2021, the field of Martian aircraft rose abruptly, with better and better planes being created with each new year. Funnily enough, Ingenuity is kept at the Schiaparelli Hotel now, in the Museum. 

Mars Tourism
Credits: Wikipedia

“Olympus Mons is about 22 kilometers high, and it is nearly three times Mount Everest on Earth. We must be careful, however, when visiting it, as it is an exciting and promising place for scientists to discover microbial life, and several areas on and near the mountain are restricted.” 

Tharsis volcanoes 

“While we are in the Tharsis region, one must also visit the other volcanoes in the region. Tharsis is home to 12 volcanoes: besides Olympus, three other significant ones are Ascraeus Mons, Pavonis Mons, and Arsia Mons”, the voice said. More than half a century ago, some band called The Flaming Lips predicted the unlikely trip in the song “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon.” “Funny enough,” I thought.

4. Tharsis Montes
Credits: Lunar and Planetary Institute

“These volcanoes are up to 100 times larger than everything seen on Earth!” finally said the voice.

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Valles Marineris

“Here we have it, one of the greatest attractions of Mars! Valles Marineris, my dear Ama-ama-ama-amara. East of the Tharsis region runs this deep system of canyons we are about to visit. As it will be the end of the day, by the time we finish our trip to Valles Marineris, you will have the chance to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets one can see on Mars. Now, some things about Valles Marineris: it was first discovered almost 100 years ago by Mariner 9, a Mars orbiter, and that is where its name comes from. It stretches for about 4000 kilometers over the surface of Mars, so it is definitely something more special than the Grand Canyon on Earth.”

Fascinating. “Some scientists have proposed a theory which says that Valles Marineris was created from the lava resulted in an eruption of Pavonis Mons.”

File:016vallesmarineris.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Credits: Wikipedia

“Regarding sunsets on Mars, there is a phenomenon known on Earth as Rayleigh scattering. Because of the composition of Mars’ atmosphere, light is scattered so that it produces a blue color. Hence, we call them Water Sunsets. Of course, this is not the only place on Mars where one can see this Water Sunset, but the full experience is given by the beauty of Valles Marineris’ dunes and cliffs.”

Obviously, I already knew all of this. It was not my first time on Mars. For people like me, such visits are almost regular. I don’t have a family, but then, families have become a rare thing in the world I live in today, so there is nothing to keep me on Earth. Instead of getting more profound, during the last decades, people only got dumber and dumber, much more narrow-minded, and they all need everything to be directly inserted into their minds.

The smart people got so much better at inserting stuff into their heads, as they realized it is the only thing that they can do, as nobody paid attention anymore to things that lead to something else other than money. However, Mars is a beautiful place. I enjoy the people here, and yes, I do like to relive my first visit here by buying that same Full Tourist Pack each time. After all, what else could I do with my money?

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