Thursday, July 27, 2006

roads less traveled (perhaps a little too lightly tread?)

Believe it or not i do like to travel. The problem is getting me out of the house (i have the same problem with going to the gym--i like it once i'm there--getting there is the problem ) and the older i get the more housebound it seems i become, but get me out of the house and i am up for just about anything--Really. I've been known to go out with a friend for a case of beer and not come back for two days (okay so we got a LITTLE sidetracked, and that was quite a few years ago and i do have a few more responsibilities now, but you get the picture) What i like most is the spontaneous trip, meeting new people, doing new unusual things and i'm not TOO big on the standard touristy things--especially shopping--which i hate under normal circumstances--though i often pick up a souvenir or two for the memoir factor. In the meantime i like to read the odd travel memoir and do my bit as the armchair traveler.
Roads Less Traveled: Dispatches from the Ends of the Earth by Catherine Watson seemed to fit my usual woman traveler bill. Overall its a fairly good collection although i couldn't make much sense of its organization (if there was sense to be made of it). Watson seemed to travel many places but i didn't get a real sense of who she was or how the places she visited shaped her--although in some of the pieces i got just the tiniest taste of it. Maybe this was because she is a travel writer for a newspaper, maybe it is just her style, i don't know, but it felt like just so much surface (maybe it was just supposed to be dispatches?) the other problem i had was that i felt like whenever she was describing "native" peoples they were always "happy smiling faces" who were just ever so overjoyed to see an American, now maybe that really was her experience, but it felt just a little politicized to me. Now this was an enjoyable read--but it did not make me feel like i was there, nor did i feel enlightened afterwards like i prefer my armchair traveling to be. (The pieces i did like were: Mexico City: Taking the Cure; Malta: Hunting the Falcon; Machu Picchu: Reunion in the Andes; Alaska: No Place Like Nome (just because i grew up in Anchorage); Germany: Glass as Good as Gold; Antarctica: the White Continent; Egypt: Kingdom of the Dead; England: Great Expectations; Russia: After the Fall (always wanted to go to Russian--even more so the USSR); and Kilimanjaro: to the Top of Africa (i am really obsessed with mountain climbing books--don't ask me why).
Other books i would recommend: Unsuitable for Ladies: an anthology of women travelers edited by Jane Robinson; More Women Travel edited by Natania Jansz; and Gutsy Women: Travel Tips and Wisdom for the Road by Marybeth Bond.

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