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Wednesday, 01 May 2019

The Salt Path

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The Salt Path by Raynor Winn is a memoir about a couple who looses their home, savings and business on the Welsh countryside in an unlikely foreclosure. Then two days later her husband, Moth, who is just 50 years old, is told that he has a deadly disease and may only have months to live. Faced with both of these tragedies at once they need to decide where to go quickly. Instead of living on cardboard in the streets like other homeless people they run into, they cobble together basic hiking gear – a tent, sleeping bags, backpacks, a camp stove and guidebook and decide to walk the 630 mile South West Coast Path from Somerset to Dorset wild camping all the way. They start out slowly as Moth is quite ill, but gradually he regains strength and his condition improves even though he's been specifically told by his doctors…
Omo by Lynne Doran is a book of photographs highlighting the various indigenous tribes of Ethiopia's Omo Valley. She is able to witness some rare celebrations like weddings and coming of age ceremonies and portrays close ups of some of the most fascinating cultures left in the world. Doran travels with Steve Turner, owner and guide of Origins Safaris, to these remote areas which are extremely difficult to reach. On his website, he says “The Omo River of south western Ethiopia is nothing less than the last great tribal land left in the world today, a real kaleidoscope of vanishing cultures.” In her short introduction some of the more interesting customs are mentioned, though many are not and the stories are just told through the pictures. The portraits themselves are excellent and compelling, and though some people are smiling, many more are staring intently right at the camera. One interesting…
Sunday, 01 May 2016

The Cubans

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The Cubans by Jay Seldin is a book of atmospheric portraits of the Cuban people taken while they're going about their daily lives. Though outsiders expect Cuba to be a colorful place, surprisingly, the book is all in black and white and this lends to the moodiness of the photos. It also gives the feeling that Cuba is perhaps stuck in a different era. This is supported by the old kitchens, cars and cameras in the photos. The people look surprisingly resilient amidst the fraying buildings. Boxers, ballerinas and believers are all captured by Seldin, who traveled to Cuba many times over 10 years. From tobacco workers to May Day celebrants to schoolchildren he gives us a rounded look at the Cubans. Even though I've known about the embargo my whole life, I was alarmed by the amount of squalor in the photos. In some, people's homes are crumbling around…
Saturday, 09 April 2016

Top 10 Paris

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DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 series offers invaluable guides that are easy to fit in your carry on. I used the Paris guide a month ago on my latest adventure and it proved helpful and extremely readable. Its the kind of book you can open to any page and find something of interest like Top 10 Cafe's & Bars, 'Off the Beaten Track', or 'Paris for Free'. It begins with the Top 10 Paris Highlights, and though everyone seems to have differing opinions about what must be done in Paris, their list is comprehensive, and the top four, at least, are must-see's: Musee du Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Notre-Dame, and the Eiffel Tower. They then mention the top 10 things to see at each, which seems like another big task - especially to chose ten of the Louvre's 35,000 pieces of the world's best art! Still, it does give you a…
Sunday, 01 March 2015

When all the Lands Were Sea

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In When all the Lands Were Sea Tor Eigeland tells us the story of his 1967 mission as a photojournalist to chronicle the lives of the Ma’dan people, also known as the Marsh Arabs. They lived between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in traditional Mesopotamia where the ‘Garden of Eden’ was said to have been. Their 5,000 year old culture was seldom seen by foreigners and he explains all the red tape he had to go through to eventually get the permit. When he finally does hire a boat and get out to the marshes the people treat him as an honored guest and he gets to really see their culture and way of life. Water buffalos are an integral part of life for the Marsh Arabs - they use their dung as fuel for their fires and they make dairy products from their milk. The Ma’dan spend much time…
What a fabulously written book. As soon as I opened to the first page I was hooked by his words. John Waters has a nature ability to bring the written page to life. He begins by telling the reader why he wants to hitchhike from his home in Baltimore, Maryland to the other side of the country. He seems to be trying to convince himself of his adventure as much as the reader and succeeds. The story begins with him on the highway, thumb out, waiting for someone to pick him up and someone definitely does. The man begins by asking John about his movies (he recognizes him) and why he isn’t making one now. John explains the recession killed his last project and can’t find someone to back him. The ride gets better as Harris, the man who picked John up, tells him he’s a drug dealer and will…
From the moment you start to read this book you will be transported to another place, The Winchester Hotel, but that’s pretty much where the traveling ends. The rich details of suite of 702 come alive, but that is only the beginning. The author has flawlessly weaved together characters that stay a night or a weekend at the Winchester Hotel. You will meet a famous basketball player who is seeing a shrink because he can’t control his anger on court and can’t seem to get it together in his marriage; a couple who are trying to have a baby and another couple going to prom and lose their virginity at the hotel. Life and death are created in these four walls. A man who faces suicide gets an important phone call, to a movie star that has an overdose and the insensitive world around him that wants to take advantage…
Friday, 27 September 2013

On the Trail of Genghis Khan

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Just as it says on its book cover, On the Trail of Genghis Khan, An Epic Journey through the Land of the Nomads by Tim Cope is indeed precisely that, epic. From the very first sentence one is swept into Tim Cope’s journey to walk 6,000 miles, the same miles Genghis Khan walked many years before. This proves not to be the easiest task yet it becomes a rewarding experience, one he and the reader will not forget. He will take you from Mongolia to Russia all the way to Hungary. Each land and the lands in between bring its own challenge. He did this on the back of a horse and his dog for three years. And he did this alone. By alone he started this with just his dog, that’s not to say he didn’t meet interesting and unforgettable people along the way. By the end of his…
Wednesday, 03 July 2013

Paris to the Pyrenees

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Ever wondered what it would be like to walk The Camino or as it’s also called “The Way?” David Downie, the author of Paris to the Pyrenees asked the same question. Travelers from all over the world trek The Camino for different reasons seeking answers. While his reason was not of a spiritual nature he still asked the age old question before his hike of “what is life all about.” Before his walk across France to the Pyrenees David was diagnosed with viral hepatitis; he was undergoing liver failure. He had had his life touched with other health scares in the past but this time he took pause to his diagnosis and questioned his health habits and lifestyle of being a travel and food writer. He had eaten delicious food over the years and not headed the warning it would one day harm him until now. And this is where…
Sunday, 28 April 2013

Walking Home: A Poet’s Journey

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A poet, Simon Armitage, decides to take on the Pennine Way in Britain and hike all 260 miles in one stretch. It took him almost three weeks to do so. Unlike Cheryl Strayed in “Wild” he isn’t doing this to escape one life and find a new one waiting for him. He does this to see if he has the ability and if he can do it without a penny to his name. Each night he reads poetry to the locals, passing around a hat (or a sock) and waits to see if there is enough money to carry him until the next night which includes a place to sleep. When he first set out, he wanted to write a memoir filled with poetry but instead he writes about his experiences on the Pennine Way. How people started to come from different places to hear him read his poetry and…

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