24.05.2009 72 °F
All study abroaders go through it. I'm sure everyone must go through it. Life abroad is just too good, the weather too perfect, the people just too much fun. Why leave? No matter how many trips around the country and neighboring countries a student plans at the beginning of their term, inevitably there comes that stage when their study abroad "home" is too good to leave. It's the Homebody Stage of study abroad.
Such has been my situation the past four months. It's been an unseasonably sunny spring here in Bath, a pleasant change to typically rainy England I came expecting. Then I had to throw myself into my creative writing course here, which required a lot of my attention. But that's not to say it's been a chore. I love it. And then there's the company. Suffice to say that it's been bliss to finally be in the same country as Luke after four years of being in a long distant relationship.
With that paltry explanation for why I've been so silent these past few months, let me offer my apologies to you faithful family and friends who have asked about my blog. I really have led a quiet student life here in Bristol and Bath for the past four months with only a few trips scattered over that time. I have plans to recount those trips in the next few weeks as well as the trips that are in the works for this summer. But as of Friday when I handed in my final assignment, I'm free for the summer and itching to get back on the road. The first adventure starts tomorrow at 9:22 with a train bound for Bournemouth where I'll explore that beach town before jumping on a plane for Marseille. I'm back in Aix for the first time since January!
But rather than jump right in with an account of the beautiful weekend we spent in the gorgeous southern coast of wales (Pembrokeshire) a few months back, I thought I'd ease my way back into travel mania another way; with a book review. (Because I know you all need more summer reading recommendations like you need a heart attack!) But since my travel bug really has been hibernating these past few months, I thought I owed it to these authors to give them credit for the stories which have gradually nudged my wanderlust back to life. And as it's summer and people are beginning to count up their vacation time, I thought it only right to share these stories with anyone who thinks they might like to catch the travel bug too.
Here are a few books I've read lately that have helped me out of my Homebody Stage (glorious though it was). I can recommend them to anyone who would like to experience a new part of the world this summer, even if it's from your favorite armchair.
Honey and Dust: Travels in Search of Sweetness by Piers Moore Ede
While recovering from a near fatal motorcycle hit-and-run accident, Piers Moore Ede finds himself on both a physical and spiritual journey to find anew meaning in a life filled with pain. A restorative get-away to Tuscany where Ede agrees to work on a farm owned by a swiss expat opens up the world of beekeeping to him. Drawn in by the magic of honey, Ede soon begins an epic journey across the Middle East, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal in search of the most ancient traditions of beekeeping and honey-hunting. During this time he will go honey-hunting with a Nepalese tribe for hallucinogenic honey along the dangerous cliffs of Nepal and again in the deep jungles of Sri Lanka. Along the way, he will taste many rare honeys and take part in many traditions of beekeeping which, he discovers, are on their way out as bee colony collapse disorder, environmental crisis and war threaten to obliterate these most ancient traditions and unique honeys.
Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuscinski
The Polish foreign correspondent and author of The Shadow of the Sun and [i]The Other[i], Kapuscinski dedicated his life to exploring the world with uncritical eyes. Now with his final book, [i]Travels[i], Kapuscinski recounts the beginning of his career as a young Polish journalist in 1950s communist Poland. He explains that as a child of the German occupation and then Russian goulags, when he finally did arrive at a time in his life that he could consider traveling, all he really wanted to do was cross a border. Any border. Instead, his editor sends him to India. There is a fascinating moment when Kapuscinski describes his utter shock of going from the communist ideals of brotherhood and equality (though he by no means glorifies his communist homeland) to the intense hierarchical framework of Hindu society. All throughout Kapuscinski's early travels he has one constant travel companion: the early Greek explorer, Herodotus, and his [i]The Histories[i]. Kapuscinski recognizes in Herodotus an unquenchable curiosity and a determination to present the world as it is, without the preconceptions of western ideas about the "other". 2,500 year later, the young Kapuscinski in [i]Travels[i] will eventually become the world famous foreign correspondent and indefatigable champion of the same ideal.
[i]Maiden Voyage[i] by Tania Aebi
Thank you, Aunt Mary, for this recommendation years ago!
Whether you're a sailing enthusiast or your stomach turns at the thought of stepping on a boat, this book about an 18-year-old girl's solo circumnavigation of the globe in a 26 foot sloop will become a much-loved summer page turner. It will certainly rock your boat. At 18 Aebi is a New York City bicycle messenger with no real direction in life until her German-Swiss father gives her a little challenge: become the first woman to sail around the globe. Having only ever accompanied her father as a passenger on his sailing trips but with no real experience of her own, Aebi accepts the challenge. Writing with freelancer Brennan, Aebi recounts her adventures through tropical storms, impossibly heavy waves and endless oceans. The book is full of jaunty stories of people she meets along the way (including a romance with a French-Swiss sailor) and the countries she passes through. As a single female traveler, it must be said that this book is full of girl power as well as adventure. The reader is drawn into Aebi's, often, emotional world of having to constantly repair malfunctioning equipment and the, at times, intense loneliness of being on the high seas. A must read for anyone whose ever dreamed of captaining your own boat or secretly wishes they had the guts (or opportunity) to do so. As Nike would say, Just Do It!
On my list of must-reads:
[i]The Histories[i] by Herodotus -- Naturally, inspired by Kapuscinski.
[i]Blood River[i] by Tim Butcher -- Recommended to me by a friend I met in France who is leaving soon to do humanitarian aid work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I would like to know more about this tragic and enchanting part of the world, a land of mountain gorillas as well as genocide.
Do y'all have anymore?