(h/t to @sarsaparilla and that user's Fun with Flags series of puzzles earlier this year)

"Hi Pat."

"Hey, did you get my note about our next trip?"

"If by 'note', you mean 'generic insane scribbling', yes I received it."

"What? This trip is going to be great!"

"Pat, you sent me a tour description written by a Nigerian spambot. You also sent a picture that looks like you got drunk at a Model UN. Based on history, I assume none of these flags tells me the actual destination?"

"The flags indicate EXACTLY your destination, and how you're going to get there! Call me back when you figure it out."

My friend Pat...who am I kidding? I hate Pat. Pat is the bane of my existence. And not just me...Pat is even stalking me on PSE and contacting other users. But the tours are good and cheap...

Anyhow, the latest "generic insane scribbling" from Pat is a brochure. On the first page is the following text:

Very few spots remain! Book soon for summer!
I have a well-rounded, special tour package:
gentle relaxing breezes and a big desire to
negotiate the waves will escort you to your
exotic island destination. 7 sunny days and
ribald mid-nights await you! A free seaside
enviable upgrade for the next five to order!

On the inside of the brochure is the picture below. I've got nothing. Can you please help me figure out where Pat wants to send me this time, and how I'm going to get there?

^#**#!@ flags

For the color-blind...again apologies. This one definitely requires ability to distinguish color, and honestly pretty good eyesight will help.


Make sure to look at ALL the tags. Note also that I was limited in the number of tags I could apply, but I could also have included geography and knowledge.

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    $\begingroup$ So far I've found: (rot13) Gur svefg naq ynfg yrggref bs gur grkg fcryy "ivtrarer" naq "erbeqre". Gur jrveqyl-bevragrq syntf ner synt frzncuber sbe "fnvyf". $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Jul 21 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ To add on to what Deusovi said, rot13(Gur "N" vf grpuavpnyyl vapbeerpg nf gur synt fubhyq or snpvat gur bccbfvgr qverpgvba (jvgu gur cbyr ba gur evtug), naq gung irefvba bs gur HF synt vf sebz gur rneyl gjragvrgu praghel sebz jura vg unq sbegl-svir fgnef. Va nqqvgvba, gur Fcnavfu naq Obyvivna syntf ner gur "Pvivy" irefvbaf jvgubhg gurve frnyf.) $\endgroup$ – kristinalustig Jul 22 at 18:25
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    $\begingroup$ Could you put the flags on a background that isn't white? Perhaps some light, neutral color not contained in any flag (beige?). Japan especially is blending into the background. $\endgroup$ – bobble Jul 22 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ @bobble Understood, but let me assure you I did consider the legibility of the diagram and made a conscious choice to run with this version. $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Dover Jul 22 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ @kristinalustig: You are correct that the United States flag is slightly out of position, but by substituting the larger flags for the normal ones, there simply wasn't room for it to sit the correct way, and there really wasn't much risk of its position being misinterpreted. Regarding the other finds...interesting! The use of variants was deliberate. $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Dover Jul 22 at 19:36

Pat (oh, Pat.) is sending you to:


Here's how you get there:

First, note that, as Deusovi mentioned, the letters in the invite spell out "VIGNERE" and "REORDER" which tells you that you'll probably need to reorder the flags in some way and then find a key for the Vignere cipher.

Once you figure out that the flags spell out "SAILS", that's the only obvious key. So, how to order the flags?

enter image description here

Because some of the flags are not the flags in current use, it's important to identify when the flags were brought into use. I figured that the smaller flags would be a hint to figure out how to order the larger flags, but couldn't quite figure out how I arrived at my answer. I actually ended up brute-forcing it a bit once I got to this point, as I'd narrowed it down enough for brute-forcing to be a viable option.

KE = Kenya, GN = Guinea, ZW = Zimbabwe, LT = Lithuania, and PK = Pakistan. When you use "SAILS" as your key for that list of letters, you get "SEYCHELLES."

Reverse-engineering it a bit, and with hints, I figured out that each of these groups of two countries have fought in wars against each other. US and Spain was first in 1898, Russia and Japan next in 1904, then Paraguay and Bolivia in 1932, El Salvador and Honduras in 1969, and finally Tanzania and Uganda in 1979.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Excellent! The location is correct, and the key tells you how it got there. There is a systematic way to do the reordering, though, which is similar to, but different from what you described. There is a clue for this in the puzzle, but as an extra hint it relates to the history tag. Awesome job! $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Dover Jul 22 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ I added in a bit more explanation... I was able to make it work, but am still not sure if it's right. Thanks for the fun puzzle! :D $\endgroup$ – kristinalustig Jul 22 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ Can I just say: You are an excellent addition to the Puzzling.SE community, and I am thoroughly glad you've joined us :) I will watch your Puzzling 'career' with great interest! (extends hand) (apologises awkwardly if any of this sounds at all creepy) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jul 22 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ D'aww, thanks @Stiv I'm glad to be here. :-D $\endgroup$ – kristinalustig Jul 22 at 23:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Stiv Agree...welcome kristinalustig! Of course I have to be pleased with anyone who expresses such happiness with my work :-), but you've really crushed a few! As a quick final note to this puzzle, rot13(vs lbh ybbx ng gur trarevp vafnar fpevooyvat va n svkrq-jvqgu sbag, lbh zvtug frr na nqqvgvbany pyhr). $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Dover Jul 22 at 23:32

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