publisher: Pilgrim's Tales
ISBN: 0977053644 perfect bound paperback; 0977053652 hardcover
price: $16.95US; $26.95US
special deal from website: $30 for Dead Men Don't Leave Tips and Yak Butter Blues
I've read travel stories by Brandon Wilson before, so knew I'd be entertained, amused and instructed. His story of a crossing of Africa did not disappoint me.
Leaving domesticity in Hawaii, Brandon and his brand new wife Cheryl joined what proved to be the do it yourself safari from hell. From the hot dry hell of the Sahara to the humid hell of the jungle, through starving villages and squalid cities, we follow a picturesque group of pilgrims. Brandon's writing makes the reader feel the heat, the discomfort and even despair, while giving one laugh after another. Living it was difficult. Reading about it isn't. If I wrote about the travails of camping beside a swamp infested with malaria-bearing mosquitoes, I might bring tears to your eyes, and have you grit your teeth. Brandon gives you a belly laugh instead.
Not that it was all misery. It is clear that Brandon and Cheryl felt well rewarded for their endurance. His passages about wildlife, scenery and friendly people sometimes approach the poetic.
Like all good writing, this book does a lot more than entertain. One would expect to learn about Africa -- its people, animals, landscape -- from a travel book, but, without lecturing Brandon gets us to see social conditions; the gap between rich and poor, urban and starving. Racially, he is colourblind, with respect for all people, while sometimes justly indignant about cruel or exploitative behaviour.
The language is always lively and entertaining, clear and lucid with amusing little word-paintings: 'a Swiss cheese swatch of dirt road;' 'we were finally waved on our way -- and after only four hours;' and 'It was a sleepy place -- so quiet you could almost hear trouble simmering.'
Brandon is a writer with the eye of an artist, a basic decency and social conscience that in another book made him the champion of the suppressed Tibetan people. He has the humour of a cartoonist and the old fashioned ability to tell a good story. I strongly recommend this one to you.
BRANDON WILSON is an award-winning author and photographer, internationally published adventure writer, explorer and expert light trekker. A voracious explorer of over ninety countries, he's passionate about inspiring others with the possibility of discovery through long distance trekking.
The author has twice hiked the famed Camino de Santiago across Spain, the St. Olav's Way across Norway, he was the first American to complete the 9th century, 1150-mile Via Francigena trail from England to Rome, and he trekked 650-miles across Tibet from Lhasa to Kathmandu. That trek is the subject of his book Yak Butter Blues: A Tibetan Trek of Faith, an Independent Publisher IPPY award winner. The author is a member of The Explorers Club and Artists Without Frontiers.
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